Book Cover - The 3Rs- Rethink, Re-badge, Redo From Start

Biskit

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Many of you kindly (you have to be cruel to be kind) commented on my book cover last year and a re-think has been lurking for a while. @Theophania Elliott kindly gave me input on types of urban fantasy that were in the same ballpark as Demonyka and links to several cover websites and other advice on covers. Working from that, the new plan is to change a few details: the series name, the title and the whole cover. Other than that, no change...

The main contenders for the new look are now lined up for demolition. I shall be hiding at the back, waiting for comments.


[GALLERY=media, 2135]Option 1[/GALLERY][GALLERY=media, 2134]Option 2[/GALLERY][GALLERY=media, 2133]Option 3[/GALLERY][GALLERY=media, 2132]Option 4[/GALLERY][GALLERY=media, 2131]Option 5[/GALLERY]
 
A cover needs to communicate something to its audience - an invitation to something familiar yet different.

I'm not sure what this cover is trying to communicate. My initial impression is that it looks like a non-fiction piece. If I say anything more that would be unkind.

Honestly, you have to make more effort with your covers or get someone else in who understands something about design, especially book design.

If you have to stay cheap and do it yourself then at least look at other book covers in your genre - it's a pretty big one - and may be look at how you can take elements from those to produce a simple and effective design you can manage to pull off effectively.
 
Option 5 looks more centred. But I gotta say that the "demon trader: book 1" looks out of place in all of them. If you go with option 5, you need the demon trader bit centred as well, or it will look off. I also agree that the cover doesn't really convey much of anything. Maybe the guy's shadow could be a demon or something at least? Carry a briefcase (as stereotypical dealers often do)? Have a demon flying in the sky?

I don't particularly dislike the cover, but I just don't know if it has anything to do with the story, at any level.
 
I think it's important to understand that for the past ten years at least, secondary education has been training kids in business media and art and as such the level of this kind of artwork is high from an early age.

With that in mind, people expect a much higher level of polish and finish in these matters. Your artwork is uninspiring and possibly irrelevant to your story.

Imagine how much work you put into a story and then equate these designs to that effort. Are they honest representations of that work? That effort?

I say this as someone with a working knowledge of Photoshop and I'd still never produce my own cover if I were to self pub.

I think you're doing yourself - and all those design pros - a disservice in this desire to make your own.

Harsh comments, but I'd expect the same honesty from Chrons who critiqued my prose, so I'd expect the same here.

pH
 
I don't like any of those. At least the last one said something funny was inside -- these just say self-pubbed on the cheap, and blah. I wouldn't give any of them a second glance.
 
Here's my confusion - you worked hard on the book. You took all the hours to write it. But you don't want to spend the money that might allow you to get some return on it.

That confused hell out of me :(
 
Here's my confusion - you worked hard on the book. You took all the hours to write it. But you don't want to spend the money that might allow you to get some return on it.

That confused hell out of me :(

If I had the spare cash, I would probably start by spending it on paying someone to do our stock fence repairs, and there's one of the big field gates with a post starting to rot. After that, there's a long list of other things. A book cover is way down on the list. Spare time is easier to find:).
 
Of those, I much prefer option 1. It's the only one that doesn't make me immediately think "Why has he laid it out like that?" And contrary to the prevailing opinion, I think it's reasonably effective, certainly more so than a lot of SP (and even some pro) covers I've seen. That said, it is still obviously SP, and done on the cheap.
 
If I had the spare cash, I would probably start by spending it on paying someone to do our stock fence repairs, and there's one of the big field gates with a post starting to rot. After that, there's a long list of other things. A book cover is way down on the list. Spare time is easier to find:).
I think that entirely depends on whether you want to make money from writing or not.... :)
 
For me it doesn't convey a sense of what the book is about. It looks like non fiction - perhaps a book on deal making or trading or something similar. Only the Demon Trader Book 1 text indicated what the book is about, which is fine, when the title reflects the contents. However when the title is fairly generic it can be hard to parse the possible content.

The images look really grainy and they don't shout SFF to me. Because of your title I think your cover needs to scream SFF otherwise it could just get lost in the crowd.
 
You could take your picture and frame it like this.
upload_2017-4-28_9-4-40.png

That might push it away from other genres.
And tug it closer into something out-of-this-world.
 
I agree with Tinkerdan and think if you are going to frame it then frame it in Hellfire. Much more SFF/hellish.

I also think having the text Demon Trader Book One, below the novel Title is a big improvement. It just reads better and makes more sense.
 
Even these covers aren't going to do you any favors. And believe me, I know how hard it is to do covers with zero (or sub-zero) money. I do my own, and it's not easy to find something I can afford stock image-wise, or to find free images I can make work, and making a cover at least fall within genre expectations.

Readers don't care if you are broke, on the street, struggling with health issues, family problems, or one step ahead of the Devil himself. All they want is a good book they can be excited about reading, and to even get them to stop, you have to have a cover that matches what's in the genre.

At the least, do something like tinkerdan showed you. You need color and the right font, at the least. Arrange things to look good. I don't know what program you're using to make these covers, so I can't help with ideas about grunge brushes, shadowing or whatever. I play around with Photoshop myself, but I started out with GIMP.
 
I had a thought and whilst I'd not step on your toes trying to change your design, or suggest my own ideas, I recalled how effective the movie promo poster for Horns was.

horns-poster-daniel-radcliffe.jpg


On a budget, silhouettes are professional looking and effective.

You 'could' have a big silhouette of a demon, and then the man you have on the steps as a much smaller silhouette below.

I don't mind having a go over the weekend if you're really desperate, btw, but I'm not trying to push my ideas on you ;)

pH
 
You 'could' have a big silhouette of a demon
But that would hit me with the complaint (already received in a different context) that the reader was expecting big-horned demons and there aren't any.

To a large extent, I have been trying to follow the 'style' of current covers for authors writing similar kinds of book. So the top one on the 'can I mimic that' list is Mike Carey. Overall, there seems to be a loose trend for a central figure and a long-perspective background.
The book is at the lighter end, so I certainly want to avoid any hint of horror.

I've been trying to match what appear to be the current approach for Kindle urban fantasy. It is staggeringly complex - the same book sometimes has different covers in different formats, and they change over time with reprints:devilish:.
 
@Biskit

Send me some examples of successful covers in the genre and I will see what I can do. All I ask in payment is to review some of Tickety Boo's books that you would normally read. I will send ebooks for free. This way everyone wins and I get to practice more.

You could also send me the synopsis as well or a scene from the book.

Here are some of my covers.
 
Tangentially, I always thought of it as the 4 Rs:
Rethink: That's good and that's salvageable, but the rest ... hoo, boy.
Rewrite: Okay, everything's in place except the prose isn't working, yet.
Revise: Just need to tweak this ... and this ... and this ... and, nuts, this ...
Repent: What the hell was I thinking with this anyway????

It's one of the things I like about writing. It's hard to repent speech without someone having heard it first.


Randy M.
 
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I see; and if you were going for dark mystery I'd agree.
To a large extent, I have been trying to follow the 'style' of current covers for authors writing similar kinds of book. So the top one on the 'can I mimic that' list is Mike Carey. Overall, there seems to be a loose trend for a central figure and a long-perspective background.
The book is at the lighter end, so I certainly want to avoid any hint of horror.
:: your work is more like Buffy[without the vampire slayer]. Though I haven't read any Mike Carey so for all I know he might have a bit of levity in his writing.
Yours could be dark, but it doesn't quite make it and then even though it has an element of mystery at first it hits a point where it becomes more of a global apocalyptic type story, although it is limited to a small community. The fact of an ongoing and possibly some insidious global reaching plot-which I'm still not sure was resolved at the end, makes me want to place this in some paranormal and twisted even--romance--category.

Then there is that middle ground space between dimensions and all. I rather thought my cover--covered it well.

Plus your demons tend to look so normal so much of the time--it's difficult to find a scary silhouette that works.

You would do well to take Gary up on that offer.
 
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I think your best bet, Biskit, is to drop Gary a line and take him up on his offer - he's done some really awesome covers. However, if you're really set on doing the whole shebang yourself, I think Option 1 is the best in terms of layout - though I think the series info ("Demon Trader: Book 1") looks odd with the text left-aligned. I think it would be much better centred across the cover.
For me it doesn't convey a sense of what the book is about.
Yeah, that was my first thought, too. The only way I knew it was fantasy from the cover was the "Demon Trader" series title.
 

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