Author Topic: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?  (Read 3419 times)  

Offline Adria R.

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Hi all,

I'd love some feedback on this draft for the cover of my debut novel (I'm not yet done writing it, but hopefully soon). I am aware that the cover still needs work especially when it comes to retouching the image of the model.



I am also aware that the cover is incredibly important, and I am definitely prepared to pay for one if this is not good enough. I just thought that since this is my first novel, I'd rather pay extra for a developmental edit in addition to line and copy editing (especially since English isn't my first language) and attempt to save 500 bucks by making my own cover.

A few infos for context: The book is a fantasy romance. The story takes place in a magical world parallel to our own, ruled by families who have ascended to power through careful genetic breeding of desirable magical traits and powers. The romance is a strong component, but the story focuses more on the heroine than the hero, and the world building is quite integral to the story. In that, the book is more similar to urban fantasy than romance.

My thanks in advance for any and all feedback or suggestions for improvement!

Offline This_Way_Down

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I rarely say this, but that's a great homemade cover. The font on the title needs to pop a bit better, but good job.

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I agree - if you can make the title stand out far more, than it's great.

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Offline RightHoJeeves

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I was gearing up to get all critical, but you caught me off guard with a really awesome cover.

Agreed about the title font, needs to be a little sharper (although I see what you're going for with the out of focus thing)

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Offline Steve Vernon

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Great cover - although you REALLY ought to be looking at a thumbnail, because that is what the bulk of your potential readers are going to be looking at the first time they see it.

I'd look at a different color for the title font. Something that stands out a little sharper - ESPECIALLY in thumbnail.

Yellow, maybe?

Don't worry about the subtitle. You just want that title to shriek at potential readers.

But the rest of it looks great.

Offline elalond

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It looks great. Although, as previous posters mentioned, the title needs to be more sharpened, since in the blurred form as it is now, it won't be readable in thumbnail.

Offline Huldra

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What everyone else has said. Sharpen up the title and I think you'd be hard pressed to get any better if you paid for it

Offline Kate.

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Wow! It's a thrill to see a professional home-made cover. =) It's also appropriate for the genre you described. Great job!

I was expecting the title to be nearly unreadable in thumbnail, but it actually looks much better.



Maybe still give the letters some more definition/brightness to improve the large size? But, overall, it's a beautiful cover.

Offline EllieDee

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I'll echo everyone else that the title needs to pop more.  You might try experimenting with sharpening it vs keeping it blurry but with a paler color to the font, and see which one's better.  I think the fine text in the upper right looks weird at thumbnail size, so maybe think about losing that.
Over all, this is a cover you can be proud of.  The fantasy romance feel comes through clearly.  Well done!   :)

Offline michaelsnuckols

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I love this cover.  As others have mentioned, the title does need to pop a little more - but definitely go with this.

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Offline tensen

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2017, 06:32:27 AM »
Wow! It's a thrill to see a professional home-made cover. =) It's also appropriate for the genre you described. Great job!

I was expecting the title to be nearly unreadable in thumbnail, but it actually looks much better.



Maybe still give the letters some more definition/brightness to improve the large size? But, overall, it's a beautiful cover.

I agree with what others said. This is a rather good cover for a home-made one. I've seen a lot worse on some professional ones. I wouldn't necessarily suggest further books to be all home made. But in this case you can save the money and use it to get the best editing you can.

I disagree with what others said about making the title pop. In the thumbnail the subtle nature of it is working. I would however do something with the font on your name, as it breaks up in the thumbnail. It needs to be a tad thicker.

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2017, 06:35:28 AM »
I would just put a bevel on the title font to make it pop, maybe a light drop shadow to help it stand out, and you're good go. Very nice.

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Offline rikatz

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2017, 06:42:21 AM »
Think this looks terrific. As many have suggested, you might try sharpening up the fonts a bit, both on the title and on your name, but I'm not sure that's necessary. Try it both ways and go with the one you prefer.

If I might ask, what program did you use to make it? Also, where did you get the graphics from?

Excellent job.


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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2017, 06:49:16 AM »
I would just put a bevel on the title font to make it pop, maybe a light drop shadow to help it stand out, and you're good go. Very nice.

Don't put a bevel on the title. On a skinny, delicate font like Desire it won't work well at all. (Although I'd recommend staying away from bevel anyway, unless there's a really compelling reason that you just have to use it.)

I'd also recommend losing the fancy H's on the tag line. Or, if you're really attached to them, at least make them the same style of H.

As other people said, the title needs to be sharper, and less transparent.

Oh, and that is a really gorgeous cover, btw. Very nicely done.
     

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2017, 06:51:27 AM »
Wow. I've been experimenting doing my own covers and they don't look anything like yours. Great job. Just make the tweaks the people here are suggesting.

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #15 on: June 08, 2017, 06:52:56 AM »
Nice work. I'm curious - what fonts are you using?


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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #16 on: June 08, 2017, 06:56:34 AM »
Don't put a bevel on the title. On a skinny, delicate font like Desire it won't work well at all. (Although I'd recommend staying away from bevel anyway, unless there's a really compelling reason that you just have to use it.)

I'd also recommend losing the fancy H's on the tag line. Or, if you're really attached to them, at least make them the same style of H.

As other people said, the title needs to be sharper, and less transparent.

Oh, and that is a really gorgeous cover, btw. Very nicely done.
I love bevels.

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #17 on: June 08, 2017, 07:19:58 AM »
I love bevels.

I used to, too, when I was first starting out. But I tend to avoid them now, unless there is a really good reason to use them, or if a client asks me to, because in a lot of cases they don't look very professional. The one exception to this that I can think of off the top of my head is metal or stone FX, which are great for things like epic fantasy covers, or some sci-fi stuff.

In the case of the OP's cover, she's going for a certain look that wouldn't be well served by a bevel, I suspect. Not to mention, it would make the font look thinner, and therefore harder to read at thumbnail.
     

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #18 on: June 08, 2017, 07:22:07 AM »
Nice work. I'm curious - what fonts are you using?

Not the OP, but the fancy title font is called Desire, by Letterhead Fonts.
     

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #19 on: June 08, 2017, 07:24:59 AM »
I used to, too, when I was first starting out. But I tend to avoid them now, unless there is a really good reason to use them, or if a client asks me to, because in a lot of cases they don't look very professional. The one exception to this that I can think of off the top of my head is metal or stone FX, which are great for things like epic fantasy covers, or some sci-fi stuff.

In the case of the OP's cover, she's going for a certain look that wouldn't be well served by a bevel, I suspect. Not to mention, it would make the font look thinner, and therefore harder to read at thumbnail.
I guess I just prefer being unprofessional.

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #20 on: June 08, 2017, 07:31:14 AM »
I guess I just prefer being unprofessional.

To each their own. [emoji41]
     

Offline Red Riley

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #21 on: June 08, 2017, 07:36:37 AM »
It's awesome!
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Offline Beth_Hammond

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #22 on: June 08, 2017, 07:42:47 AM »
It's lovely. The only thing that bothers me is that the title is not centered. I see that you did this to keep the swirl in the image but it bothers my eye. Not sure if most will even notice though.

I'm still figuring this out.
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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #23 on: June 08, 2017, 07:53:00 AM »
That is a gorgeous cover! I definitely don't think you need to be paying anyone else. If I may make a couple tiny suggestions you might like to try out, just see if you like them? From what I can tell, it looks like you've overlayed a smoke layer over most of the design, including the title, and that's what's making the title look a little blurred and faint, and also, perhaps you've played with the opacity of the title itself? I would suggest putting the title on the top layer of the design, on top of the smoke, and make sure it's at a full 100%, no blur effects, just like your author name, tag line and series title.

If that works for you, then I'd suggest going to your title layer (assuming you're doing this in Photoshop, and since you clearly know your way around it, just laying out the steps I'm proposing for full clarity, not an assumption of your lack of familiarity with it) - then go to Layer--Layer Style, and add a Color Overlay. When that box pops up, open up the color palette from it, and then use the eyedrop tool to pick out either the yellow from the fire reflected in her eye, or maybe a bit of the red from one of the sparks floating around. Either should work to give the title a pop of color that fits with the rest of the design and doesn't distract from it. If the color is too bright or too sharp, you can go back into the color overlay style and adjust the opacity of not the whole title, but just the color you laid on top of the white, fade that just a touch so you end up with a blend of it and the white underneath, a slightly more muted version of the color you selected from somewhere else on the cover.

Other than that, the only thoughts I have are to check the alignment on your author name and series title - maybe make sure they're both centered, and specifically that the series title is centered over the author name, it looks like it's distributed a little more to the left of the cover so it just feels a tiny bit off.

But seriously gorgeous cover, not only does it look sharp and professional, it perfectly conveys a feel and hits genre expectations.

Offline Elizabeth Ann West

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #24 on: June 08, 2017, 07:56:13 AM »
I would suggest making your name bigger at the bottom. The title will always be visible when the thumbnail is presented on Amazon... the author name won't be. That's why it's important for the author name to be read even in thumb. :)

Large author name = readers can see it, and remember who it was they loved reading. Titles come and go, author names stay the same, they are the brand.


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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #25 on: June 08, 2017, 08:03:48 AM »
It's lovely. The only thing that bothers me is that the title is not centered. I see that you did this to keep the swirl in the image but it bothers my eye. Not sure if most will even notice though.

I think keeping the title off-center is actually the better option. It creates balance between the girl's face and the title, and takes up some of the negative space on the left. If the title was centered it would cover up too much of the girl's face, and make the left/right weighting uneven.
     

Offline Rick Gualtieri

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #26 on: June 08, 2017, 08:06:43 AM »
I very much like this cover, but the smokey title font makes me keep checking to make sure my glasses are actually on.  :)


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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #27 on: June 08, 2017, 08:08:04 AM »
Title off center is fine, but don't make the font smokey transparent! It is better to be legible than "cool." The only way you might get away with smokiness is if it is behind a fully opaque version.



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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #28 on: June 08, 2017, 08:58:06 AM »
Beautiful work - well done!

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #29 on: June 08, 2017, 09:19:22 AM »
I would suggest making your name bigger at the bottom. The title will always be visible when the thumbnail is presented on Amazon... the author name won't be. That's why it's important for the author name to be read even in thumb. :)

Large author name = readers can see it, and remember who it was they loved reading. Titles come and go, author names stay the same, they are the brand.

Plus, a big author name makes you look important. I don't think readers notice it consciously, but the association with can't miss authors doesn't hurt. Though big names can take up a lot of real estate and limit your design options.

Offline Adria R.

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #30 on: June 08, 2017, 09:26:38 AM »
Oh my, thank you so much everyone for taking the time to weigh in on my cover! It has been incredibly helpful. I made an attempt to incorporate the suggested changes into the cover. This is the result so far:



And here's the thumbnail:



Everyone seemed to agree that the smokey font makes their eyes hurt, so I tried to improve on that without losing the sinuous feel. Some things still bother me, such as the "n" in "Sensual", I'll definitely have to replace that. Thankfully, the font has several variants. But tweaking that will take a little while longer since the title is composed of seven layers with layer masks that I'll have to adjust to match. :)

(...) I think the fine text in the upper right looks weird at thumbnail size, so maybe think about losing that.
Over all, this is a cover you can be proud of.  The fantasy romance feel comes through clearly.  Well done!   :)

Thank you, Ellie! To be honest, I'm not quite sure yet how to deal with the tagline. I have seen that a lot of covers have either a tagline, or an endorsement from a more well-known author. Since I won't be getting the latter, I thought the tagline would be a good idea. Maybe I need to make it larger or change the font...

Think this looks terrific. As many have suggested, you might try sharpening up the fonts a bit, both on the title and on your name, but I'm not sure that's necessary. Try it both ways and go with the one you prefer.

If I might ask, what program did you use to make it? Also, where did you get the graphics from?

Thank you, Robert! I used Photoshop. i bought the image with the girl on iStock for 3 credits (around $24 if I'm not mistaken). The smoke image is from Unsplash. I placed it on an exclusion layer, copied it multiple times and shifted it around. The sparks are from another stock image. Again, I needed to do a bit of copying, scaling and lens blurring to suggest depth. :)

Don't put a bevel on the title. On a skinny, delicate font like Desire it won't work well at all. (Although I'd recommend staying away from bevel anyway, unless there's a really compelling reason that you just have to use it.)

I'd also recommend losing the fancy H's on the tag line. Or, if you're really attached to them, at least make them the same style of H.

As other people said, the title needs to be sharper, and less transparent.

Oh, and that is a really gorgeous cover, btw. Very nicely done.

Hi Amanda, thank you for your suggestion! I was going for a light, delicate feel, and the swirls in the font don't look good when beveled. ^^

Shayne, thanks for weighing in! I was conflicted about the H's, so thank you for pointing that out. I replaced them. I feel like the tagline is still missing something, but I may just be using the wrong font (Adobe Devanagari).  :)

I would suggest making your name bigger at the bottom. The title will always be visible when the thumbnail is presented on Amazon... the author name won't be. That's why it's important for the author name to be read even in thumb. :)

Large author name = readers can see it, and remember who it was they loved reading. Titles come and go, author names stay the same, they are the brand.

Thank you, Elizabeth, that's a very good point! I'm hoping to achieve the same effect by making the author name thicker, but I'll need to change the font for that and I haven't yet found the right one. I tried making it larger, but it messes up my negative space and seems to unbalance the whole cover. I'll keep working on it.  :)

That is a gorgeous cover! I definitely don't think you need to be paying anyone else. If I may make a couple tiny suggestions you might like to try out, just see if you like them? From what I can tell, it looks like you've overlayed a smoke layer over most of the design, including the title, and that's what's making the title look a little blurred and faint, and also, perhaps you've played with the opacity of the title itself? I would suggest putting the title on the top layer of the design, on top of the smoke, and make sure it's at a full 100%, no blur effects, just like your author name, tag line and series title.
(...)
Other than that, the only thoughts I have are to check the alignment on your author name and series title - maybe make sure they're both centered, and specifically that the series title is centered over the author name, it looks like it's distributed a little more to the left of the cover so it just feels a tiny bit off.
But seriously gorgeous cover, not only does it look sharp and professional, it perfectly conveys a feel and hits genre expectations.

Hi Kalen, thanks for the in-depth suggestions! I put the title on top now, but faded it out a little at the edges and added a bit of glow. I hoe it works better now. I did try out the color overlay, but no matter how faint it was, it looked wrong with the light and smoke in the background so I've removed it for now.

As to the alignment, I'll have to measure the distance to the edges a little better once I've settled on a font. The Photoshop guides tell me that the series title is centered above the name (it's even a little too far to the right), but when I look at it, it looks like it's not, probably because of the "A" in "Adria". I'll keep tweaking it, thanks again!

And finally, to answer the font question: as Shane already wrote, the title font I use is called "Desire". I bought the whole font family, it cost me around 80 euros with tax. I very much hope I'll be using it a lot in the future... *sweatdrops* The other font is Adobe Devanagari, it came with Photoshop.

I hope I didn't forget to answer any questions. Thanks again, guys, you're all wonderful!

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #31 on: June 08, 2017, 09:51:41 AM »
Gorgeous!

You might want to consider making book covers on the side, for a little supplemental income!  :)

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #32 on: June 08, 2017, 09:57:07 AM »
Stunning! I think, with the changes you made, you're good to go, Adria.

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #33 on: June 08, 2017, 09:59:50 AM »
If you're still looking for a good font for your name, you might want to check out some sans fonts. They usually stand out better than serif fonts at small sizes because they're not so delicate. Bebas Neue is a nice sans, and it's free. I think you can find it on fontsquirrel.com, if you'd like to give it a try.
     

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #34 on: June 08, 2017, 10:00:00 AM »
Oh my, thank you so much everyone for taking the time to weigh in on my cover! It has been incredibly helpful. I made an attempt to incorporate the suggested changes into the cover. This is the result so far:



And here's the thumbnail:



Everyone seemed to agree that the smokey font makes their eyes hurt, so I tried to improve on that without losing the sinuous feel. Some things still bother me, such as the "n" in "Sensual", I'll definitely have to replace that. Thankfully, the font has several variants. But tweaking that will take a little while longer since the title is composed of seven layers with layer masks that I'll have to adjust to match. :)

Thank you, Ellie! To be honest, I'm not quite sure yet how to deal with the tagline. I have seen that a lot of covers have either a tagline, or an endorsement from a more well-known author. Since I won't be getting the latter, I thought the tagline would be a good idea. Maybe I need to make it larger or change the font...

Thank you, Robert! I used Photoshop. i bought the image with the girl on iStock for 3 credits (around $24 if I'm not mistaken). The smoke image is from Unsplash. I placed it on an exclusion layer, copied it multiple times and shifted it around. The sparks are from another stock image. Again, I needed to do a bit of copying, scaling and lens blurring to suggest depth. :)

Hi Amanda, thank you for your suggestion! I was going for a light, delicate feel, and the swirls in the font don't look good when beveled. ^^

Shayne, thanks for weighing in! I was conflicted about the H's, so thank you for pointing that out. I replaced them. I feel like the tagline is still missing something, but I may just be using the wrong font (Adobe Devanagari).  :)

Thank you, Elizabeth, that's a very good point! I'm hoping to achieve the same effect by making the author name thicker, but I'll need to change the font for that and I haven't yet found the right one. I tried making it larger, but it messes up my negative space and seems to unbalance the whole cover. I'll keep working on it.  :)

Hi Kalen, thanks for the in-depth suggestions! I put the title on top now, but faded it out a little at the edges and added a bit of glow. I hoe it works better now. I did try out the color overlay, but no matter how faint it was, it looked wrong with the light and smoke in the background so I've removed it for now.

As to the alignment, I'll have to measure the distance to the edges a little better once I've settled on a font. The Photoshop guides tell me that the series title is centered above the name (it's even a little too far to the right), but when I look at it, it looks like it's not, probably because of the "A" in "Adria". I'll keep tweaking it, thanks again!

And finally, to answer the font question: as Shane already wrote, the title font I use is called "Desire". I bought the whole font family, it cost me around 80 euros with tax. I very much hope I'll be using it a lot in the future... *sweatdrops* The other font is Adobe Devanagari, it came with Photoshop.

I hope I didn't forget to answer any questions. Thanks again, guys, you're all wonderful!

Beautiful, very well done.
The thumbnail looks good, but I would still reduce the size of the glow on the title font a smidge.

Offline Georgia

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #35 on: June 08, 2017, 10:14:09 AM »
I've worked as professional designer off and on for a few decades. Good, but the blur effect on the main title isn't working; it's a cool idea, and there might be a way to make it work, but basically, that's the top of your visual hierarchy and you're undercutting it.

also, if you look at the initial caps on the two lines of type up top, you'll see how the strokes in the H are too heavy and are messing up the type. Squint at it. The type disappears and you're left with little hash marks. So fix that, a very basic treatment of those lines, no flash initial cap, will work better.

Your sparks aren't reading yet, the bits of red. they look like an accident or mistake, again, squint at it, and they're gone. Bump them up in the heirarchy, I see how the color picks up the color in the eye; possible the main title type is rimmed in a similar effect of reddish sparks....

Overall: fantastic job for a non-professional. In a few months working full time at a design studio you'd be a professional. If you'd like me to use your PSD as the starting point, I could charge you hourly for a few variations. Direct message me if interested.

I used that font on a historical cover I did last year... https://www.amazon.com/Duel-Congressmens-1838/dp/1530732336/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=


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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #36 on: June 08, 2017, 10:16:02 AM »
Unless there's a compelling reason for the title to be "A Sensual Magic" vs. "Sensual Magic" -- I think the cover would feel more balanced with the latter. With the "A" being almost centered, my focus is drawn toward it and away from the rest of the cover, including her awesome eye. Maybe play around with it by losing the "A" and then pulling the other two title words up a notch.

Slight niggle for me that "Book one" doesn't have both words in caps. Might look more intentional and finished if "book one in the" and "series" are all lowercase. Alternately, you could use "1" instead of the word.


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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #37 on: June 08, 2017, 10:27:24 AM »
Unless there's a compelling reason for the title to be "A Sensual Magic" vs. "Sensual Magic" -- I think the cover would feel more balanced with the latter. With the "A" being almost centered, my focus is drawn toward it and away from the rest of the cover, including her awesome eye. Maybe play around with it by losing the "A" and then pulling the other two title words up a notch.

Slight niggle for me that "Book one" doesn't have both words in caps. Might look more intentional and finished if "book one in the" and "series" are all lowercase. Alternately, you could use "1" instead of the word.

I agree about the Book One/1 thing.

I hadn't actually noticed the problem with the A - I was too impressed by the cover as a whole - but now that you pointed it out, I can't un-see it. I think the issue could be fixed if the OP were to move it to the left and down by about... a half inch or so, so that the gap between the top line and the middle line will be the same as the middle line and the bottom line.
     

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #38 on: June 08, 2017, 10:36:57 AM »
Wow, much better than my paltry efforts. Good job. (But do lower the A just a squinch.)


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Offline Victoria LK

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #39 on: June 08, 2017, 11:26:27 AM »
Absolutely Beautiful! You don't need to hire anyone for your covers!

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #40 on: June 08, 2017, 12:02:51 PM »
This is a GORGEOUS cover and, honestly, if this writing thing ever doesn't give your bank account the sort of regular feeding you'd like it to have, you should try your hand at cover design.  You've got an incredible eye.

So, don't hate me, but when I take a look at the thumbnails (and, truly, thumbnails are what will sell your book), I think you may have had it right the first time.  I would actually suggest using your original cover for your Kindle version and your adapted version for your paperback.  *ducks as the real designers chucks things at my head*  Here's my thinking: the smoky title causes people to give it a second, closer glance to go, "What's going on?"  And that second glance is where you get them.  Just food for thought...

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #41 on: June 08, 2017, 12:29:37 PM »
Absolutely Beautiful! You don't need to hire anyone for your covers!

Totally agree. :)
     

Offline Adria R.

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #42 on: June 08, 2017, 12:57:09 PM »
New version, thanks again for pointing out the problems! Resized the author name and the tagline, changed part of the title and moved it further up.



And the thumbnail:

(...)
Your sparks aren't reading yet, the bits of red. they look like an accident or mistake, again, squint at it, and they're gone. Bump them up in the heirarchy, I see how the color picks up the color in the eye; possible the main title type is rimmed in a similar effect of reddish sparks....

Thank you, Georgia, for the detailed feedback! You're absolutely correct, the sparks aren't reading right yet. I tried scaling them, but then the space between them increases (which was to be expected) and it changes the effect. I'll probable have to scale at least some of them individually to achieve the effect I'm after. I'll also do some more font tweaking once I've locked in the layout. :)

Unless there's a compelling reason for the title to be "A Sensual Magic" vs. "Sensual Magic" -- I think the cover would feel more balanced with the latter. With the "A" being almost centered, my focus is drawn toward it and away from the rest of the cover, including her awesome eye. Maybe play around with it by losing the "A" and then pulling the other two title words up a notch.
Slight niggle for me that "Book one" doesn't have both words in caps. Might look more intentional and finished if "book one in the" and "series" are all lowercase. Alternately, you could use "1" instead of the word.

Thanks, Mercedes! You're right about the caps, I changed that. And the "A" used to bother me a lot when I started the cover, and then I just forgot. I guess it wasn't as glaring with the smokier font, but still, I can't believe I did -- as Shayne said, it's so obvious now that you've pointed it out. I tried to change that as well. Alas, I can't bring myself to give up the "A" (yet?), but I tried to make it suck less.  :)

Gorgeous!
You might want to consider making book covers on the side, for a little supplemental income!  :)

You're entirely too kind! I'll leave that to the professionals who can actually make good covers in a reasonable amount of time. It takes me absolute ages to come up with something decent.

This is a GORGEOUS cover and, honestly, if this writing thing ever doesn't give your bank account the sort of regular feeding you'd like it to have, you should try your hand at cover design.  You've got an incredible eye.

So, don't hate me, but when I take a look at the thumbnails (and, truly, thumbnails are what will sell your book), I think you may have had it right the first time.  I would actually suggest using your original cover for your Kindle version and your adapted version for your paperback.  *ducks as the real designers chucks things at my head*  Here's my thinking: the smoky title causes people to give it a second, closer glance to go, "What's going on?"  And that second glance is where you get them.  Just food for thought...

Thank you for the lovely comment! In the new version I tried to find a middle ground between a too-bright title and the smokier first version. It will still need to be tweaked, probably a lot, but I'm working on it.  :)


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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #43 on: June 08, 2017, 02:32:15 PM »
The cover is gorgeous, and shows that you have a natural eye for aesthetics, as well as some Photoshop skills!  :)

I tend to prefer the brighter title. The smokier title is pretty, but the first priority of the title is to be readable. First and foremost, you want the title itself to catch the eye and be memorable, not for how pretty the title looked.
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Offline JulianneQJohnson

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #44 on: June 08, 2017, 03:42:08 PM »
I love the new version.  My only comment is that the thumbnail actually looks better than the full size.  I think it's because the Title still looks a bit too smokey and the thumbnail is putting it into better "focus" and because your sparks are toned down in the smaller one.  If you could get your full size to read like your thumbnail, I think you have one kicking cover on your hands.  Very well done!
              

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #45 on: June 08, 2017, 03:43:58 PM »
You made that?
I love it! I want to read that book!


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Offline Adria R.

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #46 on: June 09, 2017, 05:38:01 AM »
The cover is gorgeous, and shows that you have a natural eye for aesthetics, as well as some Photoshop skills!  :)
I tend to prefer the brighter title. The smokier title is pretty, but the first priority of the title is to be readable. First and foremost, you want the title itself to catch the eye and be memorable, not for how pretty the title looked.

I love the new version.  My only comment is that the thumbnail actually looks better than the full size.  I think it's because the Title still looks a bit too smokey and the thumbnail is putting it into better "focus" and because your sparks are toned down in the smaller one.  If you could get your full size to read like your thumbnail, I think you have one kicking cover on your hands.  Very well done!

Greg and Julianne, thank you both! I was a bit too close to the cover to see it, but the thumbnail does look better than the large cover, and it's largely because of the brighter-looking title, and the fact that the sparks don't look as 'busy'. I tweaked the cover to reflect that, thanks again for chiming in!  :)

You made that?
I love it! I want to read that book!

*blushes* Thanks! The book is still a work in progress. I'm aiming at 90k or thereabouts and want to be done with the first draft by the end of next month. We'll see how well that goes...  :)

Offline JayandFunGoo

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #47 on: June 09, 2017, 05:50:06 AM »
good job!

           Just don't blur the fonts!

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Offline emprazeman

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #48 on: June 09, 2017, 08:16:44 AM »
That is a gorgeous cover! I definitely don't think you need to be paying anyone else. If I may make a couple tiny suggestions you might like to try out, just see if you like them? From what I can tell, it looks like you've overlayed a smoke layer over most of the design, including the title, and that's what's making the title look a little blurred and faint, and also, perhaps you've played with the opacity of the title itself? I would suggest putting the title on the top layer of the design, on top of the smoke, and make sure it's at a full 100%, no blur effects, just like your author name, tag line and series title.

If that works for you, then I'd suggest going to your title layer (assuming you're doing this in Photoshop, and since you clearly know your way around it, just laying out the steps I'm proposing for full clarity, not an assumption of your lack of familiarity with it) - then go to Layer--Layer Style, and add a Color Overlay. When that box pops up, open up the color palette from it, and then use the eyedrop tool to pick out either the yellow from the fire reflected in her eye, or maybe a bit of the red from one of the sparks floating around. Either should work to give the title a pop of color that fits with the rest of the design and doesn't distract from it. If the color is too bright or too sharp, you can go back into the color overlay style and adjust the opacity of not the whole title, but just the color you laid on top of the white, fade that just a touch so you end up with a blend of it and the white underneath, a slightly more muted version of the color you selected from somewhere else on the cover.

Other than that, the only thoughts I have are to check the alignment on your author name and series title - maybe make sure they're both centered, and specifically that the series title is centered over the author name, it looks like it's distributed a little more to the left of the cover so it just feels a tiny bit off.

But seriously gorgeous cover, not only does it look sharp and professional, it perfectly conveys a feel and hits genre expectations.

Kalen took the words right out of my mouth. I do cover design for others I would never do my own because it's too hard to be objective and so I was poised to be kind but to tell you to hire a pro. You totally don't need to hire a pro. You've pulled off the impossible. Leave the smoke/blur in. That gives the title a lot of character. But do add a 'clean' layer on top of it to define the title a little more. You may want to keep a little transparency, but not too much.

Offline emprazeman

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #49 on: June 09, 2017, 08:21:55 AM »
I almost forgot ... double-check the kerning. It looks okay, and Desire (that is Desire, right?) is awesome when it comes to pretty well not needing any kerning adjustments, but the space between the n and s in Sensual might be a little awkward ... if you don't 'get' kerning then don't worry about it. Also, for the l in Sensual to 'read' a little better I'd be tempted to have the hair behind it, and then leave the hair in front of the a in Sensual to weave the illustration into the title.

Having said all this, you can leave it the heck alone too. And don't make the title yellow! Leave the color palette alone. It's perfect, IMHO

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #50 on: June 09, 2017, 08:49:53 AM »
Really a nice cover. I agree with the others that you should make the title font crisper.

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #51 on: June 09, 2017, 11:12:28 AM »
The title font is still way too smokey. If you're worried about it getting too dark around the eye region, apply a mask so that section fades out.

I also would consider putting it in front of her hair. It's hard for me to read it as is. I have to think about it. I like books that make me think, but not title fonts!


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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #52 on: June 09, 2017, 11:19:02 AM »
Op, nice work on your cover. It looks professionally done. I agree with others here about making the title stand out more but besides that it's really good and fits with the genre you're aiming for. Good luck.
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Offline Heather Hamilton-Senter

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #53 on: June 09, 2017, 11:46:42 AM »
Beautiful! Duplicate the text layer and eliminate the blur completely. Then rasterize the blurry one and mask out some of the areas so you just leave wisps here and there, but the titling is clear.

Offline Adria R.

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #54 on: June 09, 2017, 12:54:51 PM »
New version:
And thumbnail:

Again, thank you so much to everyone who commented! You guys must be getting sick of seeing this by now.

What I did:
1. (Hopefully) fixed the blurriness issue enough that it's no longer problematic (Thanks JayandFunGoo, Harvey, C. Gockel and Rosie!). My hope is to make the title look as if it's frozen in mid-disintegration. I'd like it to look like a freeze-frame in a movie trailer.
Heather: I already had the blur, text and glow effects on separate layers, thanks! :) I played some more with the mask, hope it's better now.
2. Tried to fix the kerning -- thank you for pointing that out, emprazeman! And yes, that is Desire. :) I don't have the best eye for kerning and I feel that Photoshop doesn't handle fonts very well, but I tried.
3. Shifted the hair around, though I'm just now noticing that I did that the other way around from what emprazeman suggested. I'll try it the other way in a later pass, right now I'm back from a long day at work and my concentration is shot...  :(
4. Centered the author name and other text. It still looks misaligned even though Photoshop measurements say different. Oh well.

Offline Gina Black

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #55 on: June 09, 2017, 01:00:04 PM »
It looks fabulous. :)

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #56 on: June 09, 2017, 03:23:56 PM »
Beautiful! A few thoughts:

1. Change the title to LOVE STORY. That book sold lots of copies back in 1970.
2. Instead of smoke, how about adding a chocolate frosting filter? People love chocolate frosting.
3. Put the model in witch hat. I've heard that books with main characters who are witches sell very well. Or, add a space ship. Everyone loves space ships.

4. IGNORE everything I've said and use the cover EXACTLY as it is, because it rocks, big time! 

G

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #57 on: June 09, 2017, 06:57:18 PM »
I like it. The only thing that bothered me about the original was the fuzzy/out of focus title (I think it's a cool concept, but as a glasses-wearer, it felt like I'd forgot to put my glasses on).

Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #58 on: June 09, 2017, 07:32:22 PM »
Impressive cover. Great title and tagline. It is rare IMHO that authors can do a professional-looking cover, but this is very, very nice. Good job!

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #59 on: June 09, 2017, 07:41:50 PM »
Nice job! Great cover, title and tag. Being professional at all stages really pays off.

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #60 on: June 09, 2017, 08:28:05 PM »
New version:
And thumbnail:

Again, thank you so much to everyone who commented! You guys must be getting sick of seeing this by now.

What I did:
1. (Hopefully) fixed the blurriness issue enough that it's no longer problematic (Thanks JayandFunGoo, Harvey, C. Gockel and Rosie!). My hope is to make the title look as if it's frozen in mid-disintegration. I'd like it to look like a freeze-frame in a movie trailer.
Heather: I already had the blur, text and glow effects on separate layers, thanks! :) I played some more with the mask, hope it's better now.
2. Tried to fix the kerning -- thank you for pointing that out, emprazeman! And yes, that is Desire. :) I don't have the best eye for kerning and I feel that Photoshop doesn't handle fonts very well, but I tried.
3. Shifted the hair around, though I'm just now noticing that I did that the other way around from what emprazeman suggested. I'll try it the other way in a later pass, right now I'm back from a long day at work and my concentration is shot...  :(
4. Centered the author name and other text. It still looks misaligned even though Photoshop measurements say different. Oh well.

Ack, I hate to be so critical of an already awesome cover, but you did ask. :-)

I think you went too far in clarifying the title in this one, because those bright letters are all I see now. The slightly blurry but not totally blurry title in Reply #42 seemed perfect to me.

But it's all opinion, so at this point you should probably just go with your gut.

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #61 on: June 09, 2017, 10:41:27 PM »
I love it. Can't say any more, but it would definitely make me stop and look further. Well done.


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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #62 on: June 09, 2017, 10:45:50 PM »
I like the original font you had on the top 'he came to kill her, etc', but it still looks good.


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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #63 on: June 09, 2017, 10:50:46 PM »
I just noticed, there appears to be an extra space between 'He' and 'came'. Or else the kerning is off.
     

Offline Adria R.

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #64 on: June 10, 2017, 11:03:21 AM »
My heartfelt thanks to everyone who commented. I think this version is mostly it. I will tweak it a bit more in the coming weeks once I've gained some distance, but your comments helped make the cover a lot better than it was. I can't thank you enough!

Tweaked version:

And the thumbnail:


I just noticed, there appears to be an extra space between 'He' and 'came'. Or else the kerning is off.

It was the kerning, oddly enough. It was set correctly, so I had to tweak it manually. Thanks for catching that!

I like the original font you had on the top 'he came to kill her, etc', but it still looks good.

Thank you, I'm still debating whether I should try something similar but a little more subdued with the tagline. The problem with the original version was that the character widths don't match. Desire is a lot slimmer than the other font I used. :)

Ack, I hate to be so critical of an already awesome cover, but you did ask. :-)

I think you went too far in clarifying the title in this one, because those bright letters are all I see now. The slightly blurry but not totally blurry title in Reply #42 seemed perfect to me.

But it's all opinion, so at this point you should probably just go with your gut.


I agree with you. While the title is at the top of the visual hierarchy, it shouldn't be so bright that it completely overpowers the background image.  :)

Nice job! Great cover, title and tag. Being professional at all stages really pays off.

Thank you! I certainly hope so!  ;)

Impressive cover. Great title and tagline. It is rare IMHO that authors can do a professional-looking cover, but this is very, very nice. Good job!

Thank you so much!  :)

I like it. The only thing that bothered me about the original was the fuzzy/out of focus title (I think it's a cool concept, but as a glasses-wearer, it felt like I'd forgot to put my glasses on).

And you were right. I hope it's better now. :)

Beautiful! A few thoughts:

1. Change the title to LOVE STORY. That book sold lots of copies back in 1970.
2. Instead of smoke, how about adding a chocolate frosting filter? People love chocolate frosting.
3. Put the model in witch hat. I've heard that books with main characters who are witches sell very well. Or, add a space ship. Everyone loves space ships.

4. IGNORE everything I've said and use the cover EXACTLY as it is, because it rocks, big time! 

G

Those are all excellent suggestions! Calling the novel LOVE STORY is sure to suggest a satisfying HEA ending. Also, I would add a witch hat and several space ships because you can never have too much of a good thing. And now I'm hungry for chocolate frosting...  :D

It looks fabulous. :)

Thank you! <3

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #65 on: June 10, 2017, 11:51:56 AM »
All I can add is maybe move that "S" a smidge in from the left. The reason is that if you ever decide to go KDP Paperback, they reject it if any text is too near the edge.

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Offline Seshenet

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #66 on: June 10, 2017, 05:53:48 PM »
I love cover threads, and thanks for sharing the development of your cover. It looks great!

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #67 on: June 10, 2017, 06:14:53 PM »
It looks terrific! I hope it does well.
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Offline Penny Reid

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #68 on: June 10, 2017, 07:03:57 PM »
Great cover!! And I love the tagline.

Offline Tstarnes

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #69 on: June 10, 2017, 08:31:53 PM »
I just saw this and was going to say, I really like it but the title needed to be a bit more prominent.  Turns out, you did that and now it's amazing.  Very stylish without being cluttered.  I also like the little bit you added to the "he came to kill her" part.

I am seriously envious of your design skills.

Offline Steve Margolis

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #70 on: June 11, 2017, 11:52:51 AM »
As is, that is an amazing cover.   :D
My only comment would be the "l" in sensual is hard to see.
Make sure to post the final design!
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Offline Adria R.

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #71 on: June 13, 2017, 09:50:40 AM »
Ack, I feel bad pushing this thread up again by replying, but here goes.

All I can add is maybe move that "S" a smidge in from the left. The reason is that if you ever decide to go KDP Paperback, they reject it if any text is too near the edge.

Thank you, I'll definitely keep that in mind should I do a paperback edition. I would do a wraparound cover for Createspace/Ingramspark/whatever I end up using, but I'll definitely adjust the cover accordingly so no text bleeds into the spine.  :)

I love cover threads, and thanks for sharing the development of your cover. It looks great!

Thank you, Seshenet!

It looks terrific! I hope it does well.

Thank you so much, Rosie! I hope so too.  :D It will take a while until it's released though.

Great cover!! And I love the tagline.

Thank you! It seems to me like taglines and blurbs are harder to write than the actual novel.

I just saw this and was going to say, I really like it but the title needed to be a bit more prominent.  Turns out, you did that and now it's amazing.  Very stylish without being cluttered.  I also like the little bit you added to the "he came to kill her" part.

I am seriously envious of your design skills.

I'm terribly flattered, thank you!  :)

As is, that is an amazing cover.   :D
My only comment would be the "l" in sensual is hard to see.
Make sure to post the final design!

Thank you, Steve, I will definitely post it once it's done. It may take a while though. Right now, I'm focusing on getting the novel done and ready for publication, then I'll do the final cover (and website) tweaks.  :)

Online Jan Hurst-Nicholson

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #72 on: June 13, 2017, 11:17:12 AM »


I also would consider putting it in front of her hair. It's hard for me to read it as is. I have to think about it. I like books that make me think, but not title fonts!

I tend to agree with this. A first quick glance in thumbnail made me think the hair was actually a line/wrinkle across her face.
Otherwise - a great job  :).

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Offline Crissi Langwell

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #73 on: August 10, 2017, 07:34:16 AM »
I worry about the title being so blurry. That said, I would totally read this book.


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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #74 on: August 10, 2017, 08:46:09 AM »
Another vote for you - well done! I agree that you need to sharpen the text, but otherwise, very good indeed.

Offline A.D. Collins

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Re: Feedback on self-made cover - okay, or pay for a professional artist?
« Reply #75 on: August 12, 2017, 02:29:04 PM »
I love everything about your cover. It makes me want to buy the book.