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Discussion Starter #1
Without knowing anything about the book, which of these covers would inspire you to click on the thumbnail?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts or feedback.

Number One


Number Two


Number Three


Number Four


Number Five
 

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Completely brutally:

None of them would remotely interest me. 
They tell me nothing. Nothing at all.
The colors are eye-bleedingly bad.
The second one's glow is really bad.
The latter few look cheesily done.

And just as a heads up that may not effect a huge percent, but will affect some of your readers: A color blind person can't really make out your cover very well. These colors don't contrast enough. My wife looked over and saw colors that weren't there, and described shapes you don't have. She's shade-blind and sees a lot of blurring and the shape is not distinct and it's not clear to her at all.

From this cover, I don't know what the genre is. I have no idea what kind of book it is. I'd pass these all by. And the yellow is hurting my eyes. >_<

I'm sorry...  I wish there was more positive to say here, but I really don't see something I'd take interest in.
 

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None of them move me. The symbol stands out better on the bottom two. It took me a while to notice what it was in the first few. The color and the shading makes it unpleasant to look at.

The symbol is interesting. You should keep it in a new cover, but choose a different way of showing it. I was picturing a dossier on a desk with papers spilling out of it, and the symbol being prominently displayed on the dossier.

I'd suggest contacting an illustrator to make a cover for you. That would be money well spent. My personal recommendation would be for them to recreate a scene from the story, with that symbol well displayed in the image.
 

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Yeah. I hate to, but I have to agree with the others.

I was trying to figure out why they didn't work for me, so I went and looked at the best selling sci-fi covers that were abstract. There are many that work for me, Hugh Howey's covers and William Gibson's The Peripheral, for example. They didn't tell much about the stories, but were still compelling. It seemed like they had more depth (visually), though. Your options all feel very two dimensional to me.

Also, are the dimensions right? The book looks wide to me.
 

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Slight variations of your color combination (yellow/gold on gray) have been hot in ads the past year or so, and I've seen it work on a few book covers, but those covers all had something more--an image or a subtitle that hints at what the story is about, where it takes place, etc.--to help entice the viewer to click or open the cover. If you decide to stick with this design, experiment by making the gray a little darker, and maybe make the symbol in the center smaller so you can insert a teasing subtitle.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I've come to expect nothing but brutal honesty from kboards.

I've found several stock images I'm game to try. This was an attempt on my part to use what little photoshop skills I pretend to have.

My motivations of doing my own cover are three fold:

Owning all the rights to an image.

No chance of a similar cover showing up around my book.

Cost.

Yes I know it's money well spent to get a cover made. I've not found an illustrator willing to do a cover for less than $200. Life circumstances have dictated that I don't have that kind of expendable income.

$20 for a stock image I may be able to get, but I'm not quite sold on the benefits of stock images.

Should I be swayed to spend a bit on a stock image to help or continue to improve what I have at the moment?

 

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Ronald Long said:
I've come to expect nothing but brutal honesty from kboards.

I've found several stock images I'm game to try. This was an attempt on my part to use what little photoshop skills I pretend to have.

My motivations of doing my own cover are three fold:

Owning all the rights to an image.

No chance of a similar cover showing up around my book.

Cost.

Yes I know it's money well spent to get a cover made. I've not found an illustrator willing to do a cover for less than $200. Life circumstances have dictated that I don't have that kind of expendable income.

$20 for a stock image I may be able to get, but I'm not quite sold on the benefits of stock images.

Should I be swayed to spend a bit on a stock image to help or continue to improve what I have at the moment?
Just a couple of quick thoughts about your concerns:

1) Its not too hard to find cover designers who are willing to relinquish all rights to the final design to you. I do - the only rights I ask to keep are the right to display the work in my online portfolio - and I'm not the only one by far.

2) Any time stock images are used there is some danger of those same images appearing on other books, true. But if you're going to try something with stock images yourself, you're better off investing in a designer who'll purchase the stock themselves as part of their fee (most usually have subscriptions to at least one of the major stock sites), as a professional designer is far better equipped to transform or incorporate those images into a larger design that makes the overall cover totally unique.

3) This last one might be the sticking point for you, as it depends entirely on your budget. Yes, a professional quality cover will cost - though there are many high quality premades out there for very reasonable prices. A custom cover is going to cost even more than that, but you can still get a professional looking custom design made for less than $200 (though as you pointed out, its likely going to be made of photomanipulations and stock art rather than illustrated). HOWEVER, if you only have a very limited budget to work with, such as $20 for a stock image like you mentioned, I highly suggest you save your money and wait until you have an extra $20, and spend that time hunting for a quality premade that suits your story. Without a design skillset and lots of practice, your chances of taking a single stock image and making something unique and professional grade out of it yourself aren't high enough to justify spending a limited budget that way, I'm afraid. If that's the only budget you have to work with, I'd advise you to wait until you can add to it - I don't think any gains you make from a DIY cover made from a single stock image are going to justify the expense right now.
 

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I'll throw my hat in with the others and say none of them.  Problem with a symbol is that it needs to invoke a response with people.  A swastika, the bat symbol, the Empire vs Rebel Alliance symbols etc...  This symbol could be popular later but it would require a movie, tv, game franchise and merchandising to produce it.  The title doesn't tell us anything either so all a customer would know about the story is by what category it's under.  Unfortunately that isn't going to cut it.  People have to click based up on the cover, title, and price; before they ever get to a blurb.
 

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Have you checked premade covers? If you want to go abstract, I would look at something like GO ON WRITE abstract premades (http://www.goonwrite.com/book-covers-abstract_pre-made.htm). Not knowing anything about your book, there are several that would work for a sci-fi book. At $40, it's money well spent. If nothing else, I think they are good examples of what you should be shooting for visually.

And, of course, there are many other cover designers that have similarly priced options. I have about 20 on my list of designers that I check for each of my stories.
 

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Try premade cover sites.  Covers range from around $30 - $80 on most of them.  About 90% of my premade covers are composite covers made of more than one image, so the covers are quite unique.  You are welcome to ask me about how a particular cover was made also to make sure it is a composite if that is what you are looking for.  At present I have a few abstract symbol covers in my fantasy section (please scroll down a bit - they are in between the fantasy romance covers) :

ebookindiecovers.com/premade-ebook-covers-fantasy/

and you may also find something in the scifi section:

ebookindiecovers.com/premade-ebook-covers-scifi/

There are other premade sites too...just browse around...but ask if the cover was made from a single image or more if you are concerned about wanting a composite image and avoiding someone else having the exact same image.
 

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I have to agree with the previous posts -- none of your covers would make me click, and that you should go with a premade cover. There are plenty of reputable premade cover sites that will sell you exclusivity of design. Since the title of your book is either a Latin or a made-up word, your image will have to do the heavy lifting in helping potential readers want to know more.
 

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May I humbly suggest my designer. I scrimped and saved to get my first professional cover and it came from my imagination using his design skills. It cost me $240USD but with the exchange rate it was closer to $300 AUD. I never begrudged paying this because I've had wonderful feedback from people. He does offer premade covers in two prices $30 and $60 and he will gladly "tweak" any of his premade designs to incorporate any other elements you'd like to add. For my next short story, I'm using one of his $30 covers with some additional images to tie in with the story and make it more intriguing. Visit his site and you can see all the other custom designed covers GX has produced (I'm very proud that mine is amongst them ;D)
https://graphiczxdesigns.com
 

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Ronald Long said:
I've come to expect nothing but brutal honesty from kboards.
When I respond to someone's request looking for a critical and objective eye, I want to give nothing less than my best effort to help. It is incredibly hard to accept criticism. It takes a lot of guts to lay it out there and ask people to take apart what one feels was the pinnacle of work.

When I-or any of us, I suspect-respond with complete and clear honesty, there is no maliciousness in my heart. It's quite the opposite. What I want is nothing less than to see you wildly succeed. If I can even help in the smallest way to keep you on the path to success, that's enough reward for me.

As writers, we all know how hard it is to make a living as a writer and produce quality work that readers will respond to and enjoy. We all know what it takes to get there.

Ronald Long said:
I've found several stock images I'm game to try. This was an attempt on my part to use what little photoshop skills I pretend to have.

My motivations of doing my own cover are three fold:

Owning all the rights to an image.

No chance of a similar cover showing up around my book.

Cost&#8230;
I had precisely the same thoughts when I created my cover.

I know my cover is weak and needs to be changed. Happily, that change will be coming over the next couple of months as I found an artist to work with. Via Kboards no less!

As far as cost, I am having the same issues. It's going to take me a while to raise the funds needed to pay the artist for two covers. But if that extra $200 can mean the difference between $6 per month or $2,000 per month, it is money well spent. That's certainly worth eating peanut butter & jelly sandwiches for a few more weeks.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks for the feedback everyone.

I think I may end up going with a pre-made cover, as you all have suggested.

$40 sounds reasonable and something I can save toward.

I really appreciate the thoughts on what I worked on. It's very helpful for sure.
 

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I echo those who suggested investing in a pre-made cover. I recently discovered this option, and buying the cover I'm about to use (going live this week!) for Gravitas: Valkyrie in the Forbidden Zone, my first self-pubbed short novel, gave me inspiration to finish the book. (The cover was $40 from GoOnWrite.com.)
 

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At the risk of repeating myself, I have to testify that I looooooove the $40 cover I found at www.GoOnWrite.com

If you look at my sig line it's the one on the far left you can see it's very cool. I'm going back to them in future and might even change up some earlier covers when finances permit!

Write on!

Lynne
 
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