Author Topic: Help me come up with a theme for my cover and determine what my story genre is.  (Read 995 times)  

Offline Gregg Bell

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I thought I had things nailed down with the cover and title, but you guys pointed out I didn't.

This was the cover and title.



Feedback was the cover was amateurish and non-fiction-looking. The general notion was the cover was about a team of Navy SEALs in a chopper sent to rescue someone. And that is not what was happening in my story. In my story, that is a Coast Guard helicopter hunting down my protagonists (former Navy SEALs).

What I was trying to do was use the Navy SEAL colors (navy and gold) and "Navy SEAL" in the title to appeal to readers interested in Navy SEALs. I justified/rationalized the cover in that it reflected a scene from the book.

I feel my blurb does convey the real story of the book. Here it is.

The US president's seven-year-old nephew has been kidnapped. The nation is horrified, but the crime turns out to be just the break that disgraced former Navy SEALs Shelby Ryder and Earl Bernstein need. If they're able to rescue the boy, who's being held somewhere in the Florida Everglades, the president assures them he'll restore their SEAL trident pins. But something's not right. The president could send massive forces for the boy, but instead he's sending them. Support people don't show. Others won't reveal their real names. Many seem more mercenary than military. Shelby and Earl are suspicious, but they're desperate to be SEALs again, and there's a boy out there in need of rescue. And so, into the depths of the humid, alligator-infested Everglades they go, to start a mission they were never intended to survive.


And here's the story in my own words. My protagonists, two former SEALs, have been unjustly kicked out of the Navy (and thereby losing their SEAL trident pins) for something they didn't do. (Still, they're crazy to be SEALs again.) So they have chips on their shoulders and serious doubts about the president's offer to give them their pins back if they succeed in rescuing his nephew. Those doubts only increase when they get to the Everglades and find a lack of support, and they start receiving misleading intel from Washington. Little by little it becomes increasing likely that the kidnapping is a hoax to prop up the president's sagging poll numbers because he's been accused of breaking the law and is on the verge of being impeached. When an airboat they were supposed to be on explodes, they're sure the president is trying to kill them. Nevertheless, they manage to rescue the boy and now they're on the run from the government.


It's a good story. Twisty. But here's the deal--I am not a vet and have no specialized military knowledge. I have had some military people advise me and a friend who is a gun buff has helped with weapon details. But like a reviewer said of an author of a military thriller:

Quote
The author has used his considerable (and specialized) military knowledge to...

I am not that author and cannot compete with those writers with such knowledge. Still, the book is a thriller. But what kind of thriller? What genre would a book like this be?

And what sort of a theme would it have on the cover?

What sort of title?

I know it sounds like I'm asking you to do my work, but with this book I feel overmatched, and I'm looking for any kind of direction to get me started in nailing it down. Thanks.




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    Offline Kathy Dee

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    I would dump the idea of the blue/gold colour scheme. It is not working and the connection is too tenuous anyway. I think your book is a thriller of some description, so your cover should look every bit as good as these ...

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/E-H-Reinhard/e/B00R6B3BIE/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

    For the title, I notice a lot of the above author's are single words, so that could work for you. Something like: DELIVERED.
    « Last Edit: July 28, 2020, 10:36:25 pm by Kathy Dee »

    Offline Decon

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    https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/soldier-shooting-his-weapon-rifle-sunset-676715194

    Try this if you can manipulate images. This image is a woman soldier in long grass which has the appearance of the everglades.. You could take out the orher soldiers if needed. Use a filter to maybe make the image blue grunge with a dark mask surrounding the border of the image. Add the shape of a silhouette helicopter small over a light part of the background, maybe with a search beam so it looks to be in the distance.



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    Offline Gregg Bell

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    I would dump the idea of the blue/gold colour scheme. It is not working and the connection is too tenuous anyway. I think your book is a thriller of some description, so your cover should look every bit as good as these ...

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/E-H-Reinhard/e/B00R6B3BIE/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

    For the title, I notice a lot of the above author's are single words, so that could work for you. Something like: DELIVERED.



    Thanks Kathy. You got my wheels turning. I think I may have a title (Betrayed in the Everglades) and maybe a theme for a cover too. I'll post back again soon.

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    Offline Gregg Bell

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    https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/soldier-shooting-his-weapon-rifle-sunset-676715194

    Try this if you can manipulate images. This image is a woman soldier in long grass which has the appearance of the everglades.. You could take out the orher soldiers if needed. Use a filter to maybe make the image blue grunge with a dark mask surrounding the border of the image. Add the shape of a silhouette helicopter small over a light part of the background, maybe with a search beam so it looks to be in the distance.



    Thanks for the photo, Declan. At this point I'm thinking of something that needs less manipulation. But it is a cool photo.

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    Offline Decon

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    Greg, with every respect and in view of the number of threads you have posted on here here, I don't think you want to change the cover or the title despite  the majority saying the current cover doesn't denote the genre.

    What I am surprised by is that no cover designers on here have come forward to offer advice. You are not going to come up with a genre specific cover without manipulation of a number of stock photos and design effects.

    The reason your title doesn't work is because you are making it do the job a well-designed cover would do without spelling it out in a long title and adding such as (A Novel) What you describe title wise is a mission and a two word title including Mission would do it if you stopped trying to depict a scene that clearly isn't workng.

    If you are sticking with Military Thriller, then give it a military theme. Use a woman sdldier in action with a helicopter in the background and you will have nailed it.

    There must be desigers on here that would help from around 120 dollars +. I wouldn't waste my time trying to find a stock photo the doesn't require manipulation.

    Trust me, I'm rooting for you to come up with something as your outline of the story appeals to me.
    « Last Edit: July 30, 2020, 02:16:48 am by Decon »


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    Offline Gregg Bell

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    Greg, with every respect and in view of the number of threads you have posted on here here, I don't think you want to change the cover or the title despite  the majority saying the current cover doesn't denote the genre.

    What I am surprised by is that no cover designers on here have come forward to offer advice. You are not going to come up with a genre specific cover without manipulation of a number of stock photos and design effects.

    The reason your title doesn't work is because you are making it do the job a well-designed cover would do without spelling it out in a long title and adding such as (A Novel) What you describe title wise is a mission and a two word title including Mission would do it if you stopped trying to depict a scene that clearly isn't workng.

    If you are sticking with Military Thriller, then give it a military theme. Use a woman sdldier in action with a helicopter in the background and you will have nailed it.

    There must be desigers on here that would help from around 120 dollars +. I wouldn't waste my time trying to find a stock photo the doesn't require manipulation.

    Trust me, I'm rooting for you to come up with something as your outline of the story appeals to me.

    Thanks Declan. No, I am definitely getting rid of the title and the cover. I'm thinking of going to a two-word title too. I think cover designers are avoiding commenting since I've been so confused. Either that or they hate me. It's probably both.

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    Offline Cecelia

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    I like Betrayed or something along those lines.

    I think if it's a thriller, darken the blue, to almost black using a filter. I don't really like the way the chopper blades almost touch the edges. Shrink the images, so there is more margin.

    My arts & design training leads me to question a lot of mass produced covers. Final decisions are up to you.

    Offline Gregg Bell

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    I like Betrayed or something along those lines.

    I think if it's a thriller, darken the blue, to almost black using a filter. I don't really like the way the chopper blades almost touch the edges. Shrink the images, so there is more margin.

    My arts & design training leads me to question a lot of mass produced covers. Final decisions are up to you.

    Thanks Cecelia. I think you're part psychic because I changed the title to Betrayed Heroes. I'll post new covers.

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    Offline Gregg Bell

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    Same book. New title. New covers. Any feedback is welcome. Thanks.
    #1)

    #2)

    #3) (same as #2 but no series name under my name)



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    Offline ImaWriter

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    Those images are pretty. Serene, even. I don't think that's what you want to convey. I'd expect to see these integrated into a Women's Fiction cover.

    Offline Gregg Bell

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    Those images are pretty. Serene, even. I don't think that's what you want to convey. I'd expect to see these integrated into a Women's Fiction cover.

    Thanks ImaWriter

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    Offline CRRCrawford

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    I think your choice of font is also letting you down and creating the 'non-fiction' feel.  Check out some book covers from your genre and try to use similar colours, fonts and design to those.  Good luck!

    Offline Decon

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    The green is definately wrong for the genre.

    The 1st stock has possibilities as a background but its missing other  images, even as silhouettes, and a dark blurring surrounding it to bring it into line that would jump out as a thriller rather than using sub text which will not be seen as a thumbnail. Maybe try a filter that would grunge the image or to change the color rather than it looking like a photo.

    Look up - Military Silhouettes - in stocks and see if anything inspires.

    I like the new title and series name. I'm okay with the font used for the title and the placement of text
    « Last Edit: August 01, 2020, 03:55:27 am by Decon »


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    Offline thegreenheron

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    I'm far from a cover designer, but I'm a serious hobbyist photographer, so I am a visual person. If you don't want to hire a cover designer to do a custom cover, how about looking at pre-made covers? I think Declan is on the right track with making the cover look more like a military thriller. Something like ...

    https://bookcoverzone.com/customize/ThistleGreen/7096

    Or...

    https://bookcoverzone.com/premade-book-covers/Locust/2082

    The images you picked are pretty images that appeal to me as a nature photographer, but they don't feel right for a military thriller/advenutre story. They are too pretty, too sedate, too bright.
    The little green heron is a secretive and intelligent predator, and one of the only birds to use tools.

    Offline Decon

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    I'm far from a cover designer, but I'm a serious hobbyist photographer, so I am a visual person. If you don't want to hire a cover designer to do a custom cover, how about looking at pre-made covers? I think Declan is on the right track with making the cover look more like a military thriller. Something like ...

    https://bookcoverzone.com/customize/ThistleGreen/7096

    Or...

    https://bookcoverzone.com/premade-book-covers/Locust/2082

    The images you picked are pretty images that appeal to me as a nature photographer, but they don't feel right for a military thriller/advenutre story. They are too pretty, too sedate, too bright.


    This one with a female soldier $35. This one is quality even though it says romance. https://bookcover4u.com/premade-cover-design/Romance/man-military-armed-forces-heart-book-cover-design-love-couple/N1573873439B

    This one $140  female in camouflage http://beetifulbookcovers.com/cover/out-of-the-abyss/


    This one at $60     https://www.rockingbookcovers.com/premade-book-cover-shop/decisive/
    « Last Edit: August 01, 2020, 04:26:11 pm by Decon »


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    Offline Gregg Bell

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    I'm far from a cover designer, but I'm a serious hobbyist photographer, so I am a visual person. If you don't want to hire a cover designer to do a custom cover, how about looking at pre-made covers? I think Declan is on the right track with making the cover look more like a military thriller. Something like ...

    https://bookcoverzone.com/customize/ThistleGreen/7096

    Or...

    https://bookcoverzone.com/premade-book-covers/Locust/2082

    The images you picked are pretty images that appeal to me as a nature photographer, but they don't feel right for a military thriller/advenutre story. They are too pretty, too sedate, too bright.
    Thanks greenheron. Those are both exceeent images but neither really gets my story. I think calling my book a "military thriller" is misleading. It has military elements as my protags are former Navy SEALs but that's about it. They're not in uniform. Those two images in the links look like hard-core military assault type things.

    And here's the story in my own words. My protagonists, two former SEALs, have been unjustly kicked out of the Navy (and thereby losing their SEAL trident pins) for something they didn't do. (Still, they're crazy to be SEALs again.) So they have chips on their shoulders and serious doubts about the president's offer to give them their pins back if they succeed in rescuing his nephew. Those doubts only increase when they get to the Everglades and find a lack of support, and they start receiving misleading intel from Washington. Little by little it becomes increasing likely that the kidnapping is a hoax to prop up the president's sagging poll numbers because he's been accused of breaking the law and is on the verge of being impeached. When an airboat they were supposed to be on explodes, they're sure the president is trying to kill them. Nevertheless, they manage to rescue the boy and now they're on the run from the government.

    So it's a kidnapping/psychological thriller with tinges of military.

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    Offline Gregg Bell

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    This one with a female soldier $35. This one is quality even though it says romance. https://bookcover4u.com/premade-cover-design/Romance/man-military-armed-forces-heart-book-cover-design-love-couple/N1573873439B

    This one $140  female in camouflage http://beetifulbookcovers.com/cover/out-of-the-abyss/


    This one at $60     https://www.rockingbookcovers.com/premade-book-cover-shop/decisive/

    Thanks Declan. They're all nice images. The Beetiful book covers one is closest to my story, but the protag is never in camouflage uniform and there's no sustained military fighting. My protags are tracking down a kidnap victim in the Everglades and then the government turns on them.  What I need to do is look through those premade sites and see what I can find.

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    Offline Lorri Moulton [Lavender Lass Books]

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    I'd say military thriller with political overtones.  Maybe a thriller type cover with two men and palm trees in the background? Go with silhouettes or darker colors and make it look slick and edgy.  Burn Notice meets Bad Boys II for example...it sounds like a great story!

    ETA:  Here are the Best Sellers in Military Thrillers on Amazon.
    https://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Kindle-Store-Military-Thrillers/zgbs/digital-text/6361464011
    « Last Edit: August 02, 2020, 04:52:30 pm by Lorri Moulton [Lavender Lass Books] »

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    Offline Gregg Bell

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    I'd say military thriller with political overtones.  Maybe a thriller type cover with two men and palm trees in the background? Go with silhouettes or darker colors and make it look slick and edgy.  Burn Notice meets Bad Boys II for example...it sounds like a great story!

    Here are Best Sellers in Military Thrillers on Amazon.
    https://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Kindle-Store-Military-Thrillers/zgbs/digital-text/6361464011

    Thanks Lorri. Good suggestions.

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    Offline Lorri Moulton [Lavender Lass Books]

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    Thanks Lorri. Good suggestions.

    Hope it helps, Gregg.  Covers are tricky!

    If you find something you like, it will make it easier for people to recommend pre-made covers or even help you with an original cover.  I don't design covers for anyone else, but I do think it's easier if you have a clear idea of what you want. :)

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    Offline ImaWriter

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    Thanks Declan. They're all nice images. The Beetiful book covers one is closest to my story, but the protag is never in camouflage uniform and there's no sustained military fighting. My protags are tracking down a kidnap victim in the Everglades and then the government turns on them.  What I need to do is look through those premade sites and see what I can find.

    I think this is your problem. Your cover does not need to portray a scene in your book. It needs to portray genre. It needs to portray atmosphere.

    Your story is about the military so someone wearing military clothing on the cover is spot on, even if they never actually wear it in the book.

    Offline Corvid

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    Hi, Gregg...

    A few covers I found on the bestsellers lists that you could use for inspiration, and whose tone might fit your book quite well. I think ImaWriter is correct to say, you want your cover to clearly, and in a snap-second, convey to any prospective buyer what your book is when it comes to genre/atmosphere. When it comes to covers you definitely don't want ambiguity, but you also want something akin to what other top sellers are doing in terms of design.



    Offline Lorri Moulton [Lavender Lass Books]

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    Hi, Gregg...

    A few covers I found on the bestsellers lists that you could use for inspiration, and whose tone might fit your book quite well. I think ImaWriter is correct to say, you want your cover to clearly, and in a snap-second, convey to any prospective buyer what your book is when it comes to genre/atmosphere. When it comes to covers you definitely don't want ambiguity, but you also want something akin to what other top sellers are doing in terms of design.



    Great examples!

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    Offline Gregg Bell

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    I think this is your problem. Your cover does not need to portray a scene in your book. It needs to portray genre. It needs to portray atmosphere.

    Your story is about the military so someone wearing military clothing on the cover is spot on, even if they never actually wear it in the book.

    Thanks ImaWriter. You're right. I think of this video I saw where they said the cover is a "stop sign." That's all. Get them to stop and say 'that's the genre I'm interested in.'

    Where I get hung up is questioning what my genre is. It's about ex-military who are nearly rebelling at their own government. To show a sniper in full tactical gear doesn't reflect my story. (I think readers may stop to read my blurb but then think that the blurb doesn't match the cover.) My story is about the protags being betrayed by the government. So how do you show that? Or is just having (like Declan's suggestion) having the girl in uniform enough?

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