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May I get some cover advice, please?

2851 Views 24 Replies 21 Participants Last post by  NicWilson
I published Warrior's Tale late last year, the first in a planned trilogy. My plan is to make this book perma-free after book two, the novel I am working on right now, is published, tentatively by this May. I am by no means a graphic designer, but I spent a fair amount of time on this cover and feel it is decent. However, that is obviously not an objective opinion!

May I get your thoughts? Does it scream indie? I'm thinking about scrapping the cover and having a professional do it, but if I get consistently positive feedback on this, perhaps it will not be worth the $$. I am more than willing to upgrade this and spend the $$, but would like to get some feedback on this current cover before proceeding. Please feel free to be brutally constructive. No offense taken.

I appreciate everyone's time. Thank you.

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Really, Steve? Wow, never saw that coming... :eek:  I appreciate your feedback!
I was already to beat you with a stick metaphorically, then I saw the cover and actually really liked it.  It's not my genre, but I actually find it pleasing to the eye.
Things I like:  The artwork.  The fact that there is a huge sword, and 'Warrior' in the title, does not scream sci-fi to me, but that's just me.  I like the placement of the title and the series.
Things I'm iffy on: I can't tell if I like that stripe of blue or not.  Also, the placement that seems the least professional to me is the author name.  It doesn't scream indie to me, it just seems less professional than the other placements.

I really don't think it needs to be scrapped though, not at all.  I hope designers can chime in on ways to tweak it a bit, I think that's all it needs.
I like it. I think it looks good in a thumbnail, the title and author name can be read clearly. I also think it clearly represents the genre you're going for. If I try to be extremely critical the only thing I can say is maybe it's a bit generic? Then again, the target audience will know what it's getting.

I'll be interested to see what a professional cover designer has to say.
Steve Vernon said:
I dunno, Jason. For some reason I get scifi vibes when I look at that cover.
Yeah, but it's not sci-fi for me. For me it's reminiscent of historic novels, maybe something about the rosicrucians like Foucault's Pendulum or something. But you're right, it doesn't scream fantasy to me. Maybe I'm just so used to illustrations that a real sword throws me.
(I'll preface this with, my sales suck so I probably don't know what I'm talking about)

The cover looks great to me... except the Author name. I don't know if it's the font, the size or the placement, but THAT makes it look indie to me. If I scroll up a bit and cut the name off, the cover looks pro to me.
Very cool artwork. No question this is fantasy. ;)

Not sure about the typography. Especially on your author name. First, the font doesn't really "match" the title font. Second, the placement is too close to the top of the sword (plus it's off-centre). And third, it's too close to the same size as the title. I'd find a more classic font, make your name smaller by about 20%-30%, and then right justify it above the sword.

As for the title, I think it would look better if TALE was the same width as WARRIOR'S. Don't stretch the font, but play with size, weight, and kerning and see how it looks. Also, not really keen on the drop shadow. I like to add a more subtle darker layer behind the text instead.

And, lastly, I think the blue bar works pretty well. You picked up the blue from the shadows on the sword, so it's not just a random colour. How would it look semi-transparent?

Really, it's a pretty good as is.

Hope that helps!

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I've seen covers that scream indie before. Hell, two of them were mine!

This, to me, doesn't even whisper indie. :)

It does come off as more than a little generic, but as whatdanwrote said, the target audience will know what it's getting. I personally like the blue stripe at the bottom. It gives a nice but calm contrast to the bright orange of the fire. I think the size and placement of the sword is fantastic. It gives off a sense of beginning, as though it is trying to encourage the hero to grab the hilt and take their true position in the world.

In the end, unless you have a specific vision of the cover that is beyond your ability to create, I'd say stick with this.
I really like the simplicity of it. I get the sense that a pro would do a better job on the typography, but I really don't understand typography myself. All I can do is look at it and think Hmmm ... probably could be better, but I have no idea how or why. Maybe you could have a pro do an upgrade of what you've done, focusing on the typography?
I agree with everything Ruecole said about the typography. That's really what gives it away as indie, especially the typography of your name.

That being said, I don't have any strong feelings about your cover either way. It's by no means awful but it's not particularly special either. I think if you take the time to look at how titles, subtitles and author names are positioned on some of the more successful titles in your genre you may be able to put this together in a more pleasing manner and it may do something for the impact of your cover. At the very least, put your name in a serif font and move it to the bottom of the cover, under the blue bar. I think that alone would really improve the layout.
jason, i like it. and i immediately thought fantasy. then maybe historical fantasy, if that's a genre.  i agree with the font comments. fonts are so hard.
CEMartin2 said:
The cover looks great to me... except the Author name. I don't know if it's the font, the size or the placement, but THAT makes it look indie to me. If I scroll up a bit and cut the name off, the cover looks pro to me.
^^ This
Hi Jason,
I think the cover image looks good, but I agree with Becca and Rue. I think the typography could use a bit of tweaking. The font for your name reminds me of pirates for some reason, and the rustic title font gives a different impression, Gallic perhaps? Maybe keep the fonts more similar as Rue suggested.

Your cover is definitely not an unprofessional cover, if that's what you mean by indie. I am reading an indie epic historical fantasy series whose cover is more rudimentary than yours: When Women Were Warriors Book I: The Warrior's Path. When I first saw the covers for these stories I thought they were generic, but it didn't stop me from picking them up and reading them. The story rocks and now I kinda like the covers. Good luck with your revisions.
Sad to say I am getting the generic vibe strongly off this cover. As much as I like the sword in fire image, the cover feels like it needs more meat. The title probably doesn't help in that regard, as they're kind of feeding off each other. Except for the blue stripe, this feels like something I'd see in a portfolio of premades. You probably have strong reasons for choosing the title, but the rest can be changed.

The only issue I really have with the sword and flame is that it's one-note. I'm no artist but it feels incomplete. If you could have something backgroundy behind or around it, perhaps a landscape or city or the interior of a house, that might help. Most of the artists I've seen who use stock photos always use three or four images and composite them, but this is like a single piece of stock. That's what stands out most to me.

I'd lose the blue stripe. It's clashing too much with the rest of the cover.

One thing I've noticed about a lot of indie covers is the author's name being prominently at the top. As a rule I think this is backwards: Big publishers do this for their A-listers because it garners more attention, but for most books the title needs to be more prominent. I think it's better, usually, to put the title at the top. The series can go either below the title or below the author, whichever works best.

By this same logic, the title needs to be bigger than your name. Ordinarily I'd also say the title needs the splashier font, but I very much like the font you used for your name.

Finally, the font you're using for the title and the series isn't working. It's too thin, and has a typewriter quality in the uniformity of the letters. (The descending style of the W is nice, though.) The weathered look doesn't do any good to the typeface, and it's also hurting the way the series name looks at a smaller size. Just doing a quick glance over at FontSquirrel, I see better choices among Artifika and Caudex; there may be other good ones, especially if you use a small-caps approach so your lead letter is always slightly bigger. Make the title thick and readable, and it will handle the transition to a thumbnail size better while also doing more to catch the reader's attention. If you do this for the title, make it bigger and move it up, then nestle in the series name below it, I think you'll end up with a much better look as far as the text is concerned.
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My two cents:  I too like the cover image, and I too agree it says "fantasy."  I like the sword descsending into the fire (or forge).

I totally agree that your name needs a new font.  Maybe a bit smaller font that will allow your whole name across the top of the cover in a single row.  Also the title font is fine, but there are ways to tweak it to make it look like part of the image.  I know the current font is shadowed and 'distressed' but I still think it needs a little somethin'-somethin', as right now it looks like it's just an overlay to the image, and not really connected to it.  (Says the girl who stinks at covers.  8) )
As usual, the kind KB writer community responds in force, and it is impossible to properly express my gratitude, other than to say to you all, "Thank You!"

Ugh...typography. I hear you, though. I haven't a clue what I am doing there. I spent hours looking for fantasy/medieval fonts. I might tweak a bit more, but simply don't have the expertise. What I found over the last year in publishing my stuff is that I simply want to write. Spending so much time on covers is just such a waste for someone like me, because when it is complete, it still doesn't come close to a truly high quality standard. I just lack the skills, and need to focus on cranking out those words. Awhile back I saw professional covers going for $300+, but now I see some for $100+, and the covers at the latter prices look just as good (some are downright gorgeous). I have e-mails out to a few designers in hopes of finding someone I can work well with.

Again, thank you all. This was a great learning experience.

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It looks good how you have it. I don't know that extra $ invested to do a slightly better cover would make any difference.

If you're going to upgrade, go big and get an illustrated person/people on the cover, like a David Dalglish cover.  :D
Covers are definitely more competively priced now. My artist, Stephanie, is amazing and her prices are very reasonable. I recommend her every time. You can show her the cover you've been working with and tell her what you were trying to do and she'll work her magic for you.
It's pretty good. The artwork is great, and I don't get a sci-fi vibe from it at all -- more of a Conan the Barbarian vibe.

A couple of niggling points - the author's name and book title are in different fonts, and in this case the font used for the author's name is more decorative than the one used for the title. I would prefer that they be in the same font, or if not, that the title receive the more decorative treatment.

The lettering might also benefit from receiving a beveled look.

Just my two dog biscuits for the day...
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