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Reality Check Feedback on Book Cover Design

Paul Whybrow

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I’ve praised the Book Designer website several times on the Colony. Run by Joel Friedlander, it’s not just about the aesthetics of how a book looks, but tackles a range of subjects to do with publishing. His weekly aggregator of the best stories from other sites is worth subscribing to.

In May, I sent off my book cover design for the first story in my Cornish Detective series, Who Kills A Nudist? to The Book Designer to be judged in their monthly eBook cover design award. Some of the covers have been done by the authors, others are the work of professional artists.

I’ve designed all the covers for the 52 eBooks that I’ve uploaded to Amazon KDP. I couldn’t afford to pay an artist-designer, and, as I have a background in art and photography, I have a fair idea of what to do.

I thought I hadn’t been chosen, as my cover didn’t appear last month, but he must have had a backlog, as it was there today. The comments were so-so but I value them.

The Book Designer - Practical advice to help build better books

PAUL WHYBROW submitted Who Kills A Nudist? designed by PAUL WHYBROW. “The seagull appears in the story as a symbol of the fragility of nature, as well as the hostility of the wild world. The titular nudist victim is discovered by a witness in Chapter who sees a gull land and hop across to peck at his eyes.

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TP: The colors of the cover are very nice, but the choice of fonts isn’t too good. There are too many different fonts that were used and they don’t work too well together. It would also be good to use this image from a different angle maybe.

I should write to Joel Friedlander to ask about the problem of designing an image that looks great full-sized and tile-sized – which is how readers first see the book cover on a sales site. I always include an image, a shape that can be discerned in tile size. I agree with the comment about fonts, though funnily enough, I think that I used only two different fonts and that was based on advice from The Book Designer site! This is a very exacting area of book promotion and, even though I’ve been reading their newsletters for four years, I still haven’t worked out which fonts are considered best for each genre.

Why not have a go at submitting to their monthly award?

iu


J. Pepper Bryars
 

CageSage

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“The seagull appears in the story as a symbol of the fragility of nature, as well as the hostility of the wild world. The titular nudist victim is discovered by a witness in Chapter who sees a gull land and hop across to peck at his eyes.
I'm not a picture/designer person, but I am a reader, and I read in the crime/detective genre, so what is it that stops me picking this up?
A: The cover doesn't show anything about the genre. If it's a story about a detective and a dead body, where is the detective, or the body, or the seagull pecking at the body (or holding an eyeball in its beak)? How can this cover represent either of these things, rather than a bird that looks upside down? I also don't like that the title of the story is less clear than the author's name. The title and the picture are the first impressions for the reader.

Did he say anything about the actual image used and how it did or didn't fit the genre expectations?

I have problems with covers and always get help these days (I'm not going back to fix the others, though). The biggest problem for me is hitting the genre expectations of the readers -- is this cover going to make them read the preview? If I don't think it will, even if it fits the story to a T, I can't afford to use it.

Sorry if I'm talking out of turn, but this is an area I'd like/need to understand for marketing to the right readers.
 

Paul Whybrow

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Thank you for your feedback @CageSage. I'll be modifying the design soon. I use the free IrfanView software, which is easy to understand. I tried various colours for the lettering, to decide what was legible. I searched for many hours to locate an image of a dead body or a seagull standing beside a nude sunbather without success. Detached and about to be eaten eyeballs are more for the horror genre. Unless a crime story is of the slasher sub-genre, then there's more suggestiveness used than explicit gore.
 

KateESal

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It took me a second look before I realised what I was seeing and it's quite unsettling. I'm not quite sure what to make of it, but that wouldn't necessarily put me off reading it.

I have to admit, it's not an area I've given a great deal of thought to in the past, but it's certainly interesting to consider what kind of design makes an attractive book cover...and the considerations of title/author name placement etc.

When browsing, an arresting book cover will certainly attract me to pick it up and flick through. Then other things will come into play, like blurb, do I know the author, have I had it recommended to me etc. But if a book has caused me to pick it up purely because of the cover, the thing that will encourage me to part with some hard-earned cash will be a few random pages of reading and whether the style grabs me or not and whether the dialogue feels clunky or the style stilted. The cover can be the best ever, but I'll put it straight back down again if it doesn't pass those tests! Mind you, it shows how important it can be (potentially) to have a book cover that attracts a casual browser to take a closer look.
 
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