Poll

What genre does this cover evoke to you?

Romance
2 (3.2%)
Fantasy
4 (6.3%)
Urban Fantasy
34 (54%)
Dark Fantasy
7 (11.1%)
Mystery
0 (0%)
Paranormal romance
12 (19%)
Sci-fi
4 (6.3%)

Total Members Voted: 63

Author Topic: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark  (Read 1463 times)  

Offline VirginiaMcClain

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Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« on: March 13, 2018, 12:35:12 AM »
Update: Taking this cover back into my workshop. As I stated initially, this is an early draft. It's about to undergo a major overhaul thanks to the input I've gotten here. The unanimous feedback that there is too much text and that said text is difficult to read is very useful and will be addressed accordingly. The poll shows that the cover hits the intended genre fairly well, so I'm actually pretty happy with that, but may redesign multiple aspects of the cover anyway. Thanks everyone! Doing covers for my own books is like staring into a mirror so long that my face doesn't make sense any more, it can be difficult to maintain perspective--hence the poll!



(FWIW This is an early draft. One of the reasons I am reluctant to work on my own covers--despite doing cover design professionally--is that I start to wonder if the things I think are problematic actually are or if they are fine but the things I think are fine are problems. Also, I worry that I'm taking my story too literally. Oddly, these are problems I rarely have with other people's books... Anyway, thanks to all these doubts regarding designing my own cover, I'm seeking advice from the collective.)

Yes. I definitely left some red herrings in the poll. Presumably, if the cover is doing its job, no one will pick them. (Now watch you all pick them just to spite me!) ;-)

Bonus points for commenting with your best guess at what the book is about. (Bonus points for what? I have no idea. Winning at life?)

Also welcoming comments on whether or not you can read the title, subtitle, author name etc.

I'm headed to bed and won't get to check on this thread until tomorrow afternoon sometime, so don't be discouraged if I don't reply to anyone for a while. Looking forward to everyone's feedback. Thanks in advance!
« Last Edit: March 14, 2018, 07:51:26 AM by VirginiaMcClain »
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Offline Evenstar

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2018, 02:06:52 AM »
To be honest I would have picked Sci-fi (which isn't on the list). All those stars and the alien eyes, I thought she was in space until I scrolled down to the wolf/panther and thought "Oh, it must be shifters, which means paranormal romance?"

So in the end I clicked fantasy.

Offline scott.marmorstein

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2018, 02:19:36 AM »
It's a striking cover, and well put together. It's also a little difficult to read the title at thumb-nail level. I picked 'Dark Fantasy', but, like Evanstar, it's difficult to tell what genre it actually is.

Maybe you're over thinking the whole thing. I do that with my book covers too.
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Offline MelanieCellier

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2018, 02:20:04 AM »
To be honest I would have picked Sci-fi (which isn't on the list). All those stars and the alien eyes, I thought she was in space until I scrolled down to the wolf/panther and thought "Oh, it must be shifters, which means paranormal romance?"

So in the end I clicked fantasy.

That's pretty much exactly where my mind went! "Sci-fi, no wait, shifter. Does she have paranormal romance on the list? Ok, I'm really not sure."

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2018, 02:20:44 AM »
Science Fiction.

I can't read the title very well.

The hand-written font in combination with the girl's stubborn look makes it look like comedy.

I didn't notice the wolf/leopard until I saw the above reply. OK now I can see them, but the eye is not drawn to them at all.

Oh. It says Marmot. I think. I don't think you mean this type of marmot?


Offline C. Gold

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2018, 02:26:33 AM »
To be honest I would have picked Sci-fi (which isn't on the list). All those stars and the alien eyes, I thought she was in space until I scrolled down to the wolf/panther and thought "Oh, it must be shifters, which means paranormal romance?"

So in the end I clicked fantasy.
Yeah, I was looking for the paranormal option as well after going through your sci fi, wait, no thinking. There wasn't one, so I didn't pick a category. It doesn't say romance to me. The thriller font with wolf+cat/green eyes and mention of the average teenage girl/dark matters says this will probably be about some teen shifter paranormal investigation story.

The text is hard to read at the smaller cover sizes.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2018, 02:31:04 AM by C. Gold »

Online Dennis Chekalov

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2018, 02:38:07 AM »
Urban Fantasy (a girl and shifters).
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Offline StellaD

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2018, 02:43:35 AM »
I also thought her a sci fi alien girl until I looked at the pool options. I hard a hard time reading the title on my phone, and my eyes keep thinking Victoria Marmot is the author name.


Offline tdecastro31

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2018, 05:58:58 AM »
I went with Dark Fantasy, because I see nothing urban about the cover at all.  Though it is modern, can Dark Fantasy be modern. I have no idea.  Nonetheless, I love your cover.

Offline Herefortheride

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2018, 06:19:45 AM »
Urban fantasy, easy to identify.
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Offline catlife

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2018, 07:13:03 AM »
I thought PNR and I wan't sure which was the author name till I looked at your avatar.
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Offline Lilly_Frost

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2018, 08:19:13 AM »
Amazon has conditioned me to assume anything with an animal on the cover is a miscategorized erotic paranormal romance/menege thingy.
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Offline StacyC

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2018, 08:51:47 AM »
I thought PNR (but voted UF) and also thought that the title was the author name. I wondered why anyone would want to hide the author name. Even more, I wonder why you would cover part of the title. The title font should be smaller in order to see all of it, and it needs to be darkened/brightened for readability.
  

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Offline joyceharmon

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #13 on: March 13, 2018, 11:49:39 AM »
I picked urban fantasy. As I understand it, 'urban' fantasy doesn't necessarily mean cities, but refers to fantasy that's set in our world - am I right on that?

Offline horst5

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2018, 11:57:57 AM »
No, sorry, almost impossible to read.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2018, 12:10:44 PM by horst5 »

Offline C. Gockel

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #15 on: March 13, 2018, 12:02:48 PM »
I didn't take the poll. I think the cover needs work. I can't tell what is the title and what is the author's name and I can't read whatever is at the top very well at all.

Contrary to popular wisdom here you don't need the perfect cover to sell well (though it helps a lot.) But I do think legibility is probably the most important aspect of a cover, even above pegging it to the proper genre.


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Offline locker17

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #16 on: March 13, 2018, 12:19:42 PM »
I see too much text everywhere and mis-matched fonts. Needs de-cluttering, and make some of the text smaller. All this is an opinion, I'm not an expert.

I don't know much about the conventions for each genre so I didn't take the poll.

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Offline MartaT

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #17 on: March 13, 2018, 12:31:22 PM »
I picked urban fantasy. As I understand it, 'urban' fantasy doesn't necessarily mean cities, but refers to fantasy that's set in our world - am I right on that?
Of the options, I was leaning toward urban fantasy, but my take is urban fantasy should be at least partly set in a city. There's nothing in the cover that suggests that setting, and there was no paranormal option, suggested by the eyes and two animals often associated with paranormal stories.

I agree with other posters about the fonts.

Offline Kathryn Jankowski

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #18 on: March 13, 2018, 01:40:15 PM »
I would peg this as Urban Fantasy.

My initial response is that it's nearly impossible to make out the author's name and the title. So if I were browsing Amazon, I'd pass in favor of easier-to-decipher covers. Sorry.

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Offline VirginiaMcClain

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #19 on: March 13, 2018, 02:12:42 PM »
Thank you to everyone who has taken the poll and/or commented. All of this is valuable feedback. I'm off to make the title more legible and do something to it to make sure no one thinks it's the author name. As for genre, my 3am brain failed to include Paranormal Romance in the list, but that's not incorrect (it's an Urban Fantasy Parody that includes lots of PNR tropes as well, so either of those genres is an accurate impression). So, I am reassured that my concern about the title being difficult to read is well founded, and that the genre is actually fairly on point. (Bonus points to whoever said they thought it looked like a comedy--it is!--but it also has its own serious elements.)

Anyway, as I said earlier, this is an early draft, so changes are afoot, but everyone's feedback has been enormously helpful, and off I go to fix the things that multiple folks have mentioned. I'll post an update when I've got it, but if anyone else feels like chiming in, or taking the poll in the meantime, it's much appreciated! (And I will add paranormal romance so that folks can change their answers to that too.)
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Offline VirginiaMcClain

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #20 on: March 13, 2018, 04:10:24 PM »
Ok, folks! Here is the next attempt, making use of a various bits of feedback received here. The title should be vastly more legible (although yes, her heads still blocks part of Marmot, this doesn't bother me as I think her head is a more important element for the cover, but let me know if it really bothers you--only one person mentioned it last time). Meanwhile, I added a colon after Marmot (it was supposed to be there originally but the font I was using before didn't have colons in its symbols--hence the font change), and I changed the font on the series title because someone said it looked too cluttered before. I'm not sure if that was an improvement or not, so please let me know what you think of it.

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Offline DCRWrites

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #21 on: March 13, 2018, 04:49:15 PM »
It's more legible, though I am one who the head-block bothers. My biggest issue is that it's all words, I want more uncluttered picture on a title. The other thing (which may be because it's an early version) is that the girl, wolf, and panther all look like disparate elements laid on top of the same background rather than a whole. Part of it is that I've seen that wolf image before so that may be throwing me off.

It's just too busy, and the mix of styles hurts it too.

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Offline MelanieCellier

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #22 on: March 13, 2018, 05:17:59 PM »
Sorry, but I agree that the head blocking the words is an issue. And I am also in the too cluttered camp in general. I am not sure what is going on in the sky with the stars, etc that made a bunch of us think sci fi at the beginning, but it is even harder to discern in the new version and I think is contributing to the cluttered feeling.

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Offline Crystal_

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #23 on: March 13, 2018, 05:21:58 PM »
I thought UF until I saw the animals, then I thought PNR. But it doesn't look quite like either.

Offline Ryan W. Mueller

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #24 on: March 13, 2018, 05:35:00 PM »
I'd go with young adult urban fantasy, maybe with some science fiction elements.

For paranormal romance, I'd expect less clothing

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #25 on: March 13, 2018, 05:47:01 PM »


Unfortunately, the cover doesn't work for me. If the book is supposed to be UF, I think it could use a more fantasy-oriented font, and the font should have much more color and 'glow' to it vs. being tall and thick and set to lighten. I'd definitely keep her head behind the font...but also if you change the font to something less action/adventure it will naturally not have to cover the head at all because it won't be taking up so much space. It's really taking up a TON of space, and overall the cover could use a bit less stuff in it overall.

I'm not sure how rough it is, but she definitely needs more overpainting/blending with her background. Similarly, I'd suggest making her much more of the central focus, and keep the animals down to either one off to one side, OR both of them (if they both just have to be there) but behind her and much smaller, definitely not competing for the front focus.

Back to the fonts, the latest version has two very similar fonts (tall sans serifs). I'd make one of those a serif font of some sort.

Good luck :)


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Offline C. Gold

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #26 on: March 13, 2018, 05:55:05 PM »
I hate the amount of cover space the text occupies. I think it would look much better to shrink the title and subtitle and have it fit above the woman's head. I'm not so much bugged by the head over Marmot as I am the subtitle over the woman's chin, neck, and chest. This reminds me of a magazine cover with text all over the place and even they try to work the text around the main art elements.

The reason the animals look stuck on is because they lack any lighting to show depth perception.

Why is there an asterisk? That kind of bugged me last time, but now it's even more prominent and confusing.

I don't see anything that looks like parody here and definitely nothing paranormal romance-y about it. That's where the typography could come in useful. Maybe if you made a stamp out of 'average teenage girl' and slapped it diagonally across the title it would add a touch of humor and you could get rid of the colon which in that font looks really weird. I'd also stick a full moon in the sky instead of a sci-fi galaxy. That's such a staple of shifter stories that any parody should have one.

Offline ShayneRutherford

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #27 on: March 13, 2018, 06:57:46 PM »
Just wanted to mention a couple of points. 1) Using two fonts that are too similar but not part of the same font family is generally frowned on. So, like, you could use a tall sans font for the title, and a geometric sans font for the author name, but you don't want to use two different, tall sans fonts on the same cover. 2) Your series title and sub-title are both too big compared to your title. The sub-title should be a bit smaller, and the series title should be smaller than that. 3) The edge of one of your layer masks is visible just across the top of AVERAGE.
     

Offline VirginiaMcClain

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #28 on: March 13, 2018, 07:49:08 PM »
Just wanted to mention a couple of points. 1) Using two fonts that are too similar but not part of the same font family is generally frowned on. So, like, you could use a tall sans font for the title, and a geometric sans font for the author name, but you don't want to use two different, tall sans fonts on the same cover. 2) Your series title and sub-title are both too big compared to your title. The sub-title should be a bit smaller, and the series title should be smaller than that. 3) The edge of one of your layer masks is visible just across the top of AVERAGE.
These are all good points except that that's a shooting star in the sky (not that that helps, it still looks like a mistake, point taken) not a layer mask, I was planning on buffing it out eventually, but as mentioned earlier, this is an early draft.
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Offline RJRugroden

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #29 on: March 13, 2018, 08:00:02 PM »
I don't think the subtitle "*Average Teenage Girl" is needed. That doesn't tell me anything about the book or entice me to read it, and since there is so much text on the cover already, I think it could help provide space if it was taken out. Also, the asterisk doesn't make sense to me. I don't know what it's there for.

Love the stars and the effects in the sky, and how the title is overlaid on that.

The author name is hard to read with such a thin font. I think it would look better if it was squashed a bit.

I don't know how you are planning to publish, but maybe keep in mind that a lot of people encounter books first in a list, where the title and author are listed next to the cover, instead of getting the title from the cover, so it's not as important to have the text so big. (This is usually how I encounter books as a reader. My apologies if no one else is like this.)

Even with the rough version, though, the colors and the stars drew me in and I felt like I knew what to expect out of it.

Offline Jan Hurst-Nicholson

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #30 on: March 14, 2018, 06:12:13 AM »
As an author becomes more famous their name takes precedence over the title of the book because their name becomes the main selling point, and it usually appears at the top of the cover. I think readers might assume that Victoria Marmot is the author's name (as I initially did). I think it might work better if the title was in the middle of the cover (or not, as I'm not a graphic artist, but am looking at it from a reader's point of view)  ::)

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Offline Carol Davis

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #31 on: March 14, 2018, 06:29:50 AM »
I agree with other folks that there's far too much text.

And for me, the girl's expression is very off-putting -- too angry and belligerent. It drives me away from wanting to find out more about her.

I think overall, this cover says to me "Keep out. Stay away."

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Offline kcole99294

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #32 on: March 14, 2018, 07:29:07 AM »
The common theme seems to be "hard to read" which would defeat the purpose of the cover.

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Offline StacyC

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #33 on: March 14, 2018, 08:17:07 AM »
All that text is an eyesore, sorry. Plus you're not doing yourself any favors covering part of the title.
  

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Offline Herefortheride

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #34 on: March 14, 2018, 08:24:22 AM »
It's a wall of text. Something about it really bothers the eye.

Does all the text need to be that large?
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Offline tdecastro31

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #35 on: March 16, 2018, 08:32:25 AM »
I still love the cover, but I agree it has gotten more legible. So maybe if you listen to everyone else it will continue to improve ;)

Offline VirginiaMcClain

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #36 on: March 16, 2018, 11:57:03 AM »
I still love the cover, but I agree it has gotten more legible. So maybe if you listen to everyone else it will continue to improve ;)

Thanks, TD! It's nice to know that someone likes it. :-)
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Offline C. Gold

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #37 on: March 16, 2018, 05:28:33 PM »
I agree with other folks that there's far too much text.

And for me, the girl's expression is very off-putting -- too angry and belligerent. It drives me away from wanting to find out more about her.

I think overall, this cover says to me "Keep out. Stay away."
I like the angry girl glare. To me it says she's a bad*ss and is not taking any guff from anyone. I'd probably call it :Angry Teen Girl rather than Average, lol!

Offline VirginiaMcClain

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #38 on: March 17, 2018, 11:05:34 AM »
I like the angry girl glare. To me it says she's a bad*ss and is not taking any guff from anyone. I'd probably call it :Angry Teen Girl rather than Average, lol!

Ha! Indeed. In fact, anyone who is turned away from a book cover by a female that isn't smiling is not my target audience. :-)
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Offline C. Gockel

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #39 on: March 17, 2018, 02:06:03 PM »
I can't read the title. Which I didn't know was the title until it was explained to me. You've really got to take it out from behind the girl's head and make it legible and more prominent than your name. Is it supposed to say Marmot? Or does it say something else?

 You might want a name that is about the feeling / theme of the book, rather than your main character's name. "Girl's Name: Average Teenage Girl" could be about anything, but most likely YA coming of age no magic.


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Offline GeorgiaCM123

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #40 on: March 17, 2018, 03:01:02 PM »
I'm in the PNR camp because of the wolf and the panther.

I'd try reducing the font size of the title so that the cover doesn't look so busy. Is the asterisk there for a reason? An asterisk is generally used for footnotes or for text breaks.

It doesn't come across as a parody--not to me anyway. In fact, on the basis of the cover alone (without the blurb), it may mislead some readers expecting a book written for either UF or PNR, but finding a book that makes fun of it instead.

Online klerner

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Re: Testing to see if this cover hits the mark
« Reply #41 on: March 17, 2018, 06:16:49 PM »
Yep, agree with the majority: this is problematic for me.

1) The title is waaay too big and made me assume it was the author's name.

2) Also, it's obscured by the gal's head and I had no idea what the 2nd name was (Marriot?).

3) The asterisk is de trop. :)  Asterisks don't do solo acts, they come in pairs--you need another one at the end of "Marmot," assuming it's intended to be a footnote sorta thing.

4) The font choices clash, and the gradient for the subtitle and author name renders them hard to read. They seem to disappear into the background.

5) Agreed that the three figures look unrelated; kinda makes me think of collages I used to make out of magazine photos when I was younger. (Muuuuuuch younger. I'm old as hell! :D) I bet you can do a better job with melding the elements so they seem less random.

6) The girl is bad*ss and that's a good stance for your heroine. The vivid green of her eyes seems out of place, though.  Not sure why. I guess it looks a little cartoony/cheesy, somehow?

7) Let's talk about the title for a sec, if that's okay. With great respect and understanding for how much your heroine means to you as her creator, she doesn't yet matter to your potential readers. So I think emphasizing her name isn't the optimal choice for your title. Until she's a household name, you're not telling your readers anything helpful about the story to draw them in.

It'd be different if the full title were "Victoria Marmot: _____" or "Victoria Marmot and the ______" -- where the words in the blank could offer some hint as to the plot/theme/genre.  With the Percy Jackson and Harry Potter series, even before they were famous, the full titles included intriguing hooks. (Respectively: "Ooh, how can someone steal lightning?" and "What's a philosopher's stone, it sounds mystical/ancient!" Okay, some well-read kids might know what a philosopher's stone is, but still.) 

Here, we got nothin' except that apparently Victoria's an average teenager. I fear that's not much of a draw. Heck, it's kind of the antithesis of a draw!  Although obviously you intended it as snarky, especially since you told us that this is a satire. But "Average Teenage Girl" by itself doesn't signpost satire or genre.

Maybe adding "Totally" to that would lean further in that direction?  "Totally Average Girl" seems like someone desperate to fool us or distract us... or it's sarcastic. Either way it's more clear that we shouldn't exactly believe what we're reading.

Still, we're missing the genre. That title could belong to a teen spy, treasure-hunter, super-genius or detective, for example.

So my real suggestion would be to get rid of Victoria's name altogether (maybe make that the series title instead?) and do something punny. If it's clever enough, you'll make it clear it's humor/satire, and you'll let us know the genre.

Like... I dunno, since you're targeting the shifter audience, why not "Shifty-Eyed Girl" or "The Late Shifts" (helps if you've got some deaths in there!), or something along those lines?

Anyway, I'm sorry these are all negative. Honestly, if this were a videogame or a movie poster, and "Victoria Marmot" was a more well-known entity, I think the transparent lettering would be pretty damn cool.  (And if her last name were well known, her head obscuring the last letters wouldn't be such a problem.)  Plus, as I said, I do like the heroine, who looks like a real "don't mess with me" type. She gives me a Faith (from Buffy) vibe.

But I want you to do well--I think the genre is hella ripe for satire! :D--so here's hoping some of these comments help you get there.  Good luck!
« Last Edit: March 17, 2018, 06:25:01 PM by klerner »