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  1. #46
    It could be worse. ~tmso Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
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    Okay, well, here's my current book cover for my very first novel. Here's what I would like to know:
    1. Would you be embarrassed to carry around a book with a cover like this?
    2. Does it make you at all interested in the contents?
    3. Is it readable?
    4. Would it also work for an ebook cover/image/thumb print/thingy?


    Also, keep in mind, the following:
    • I'm not very visually creative
    • I don't know any graphic software but CorelDraw and that's what I used
    • Because I don't want to waste money on a good cover for a book whose content will not live up to a paid cover, I've decided to do it myself knowing the above - which means I want to KISS.


    Thanks for any feedback you can offer...

    Full spread; back (with filler blurb - I'm working on that), spine, and front:


    Front only:

  2. #47
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    A little more contrast on the line drawings with the black cover would be good, though that may just be my computer. I would suggest making the title a bit bigger because it's hard to see the moon clearly. Some people might miss it and it's kind of tiny compared to the large map. Love the bat on the back -- is this print you're doing?

    Big thing for me is being able to see whatever art is there. Black covers can be great, but it needs to work with contrast. You are doing something kind of subtle there, so you need to make sure it doesn't get washed out.

  3. #48
    It could be worse. ~tmso Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
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    Yes, I do want to go subtle. I don't want folks to realize there is anything there unless they look closely. But, of course, I don't want them to have to look too closely.

    I will make the title and moon bigger.

    Thanks!

    Yes, this is for print and ebook versions.

  4. #49
    LaerCarroll.com
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    Covers nowadays must work as both Web and print versions. Amazon uses images 300, 160, and 100 pixels on the vertical side. Here is my cover.

    ________

    For my print edition I will use the following but apply a photorealistic skin.



    The background is from a photo I took in Kilrush, Ireland, one morning on the edge of the Shannon River, where my protagonist spent the first two years after she returned from the dead a shapechanger.

  5. #50
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    That's better, I think, Laer. I'm tempted to say get rid of the bench because now it's blocking that nice landscape from the photo. You can see more of her facial features, which I think works better.

  6. #51
    Life is fantastic, yes? CMTheAuthor's Avatar
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    I think that the byline might be a bit of a problem. With it just being "Shapechanger Tales" rather than the earlier "A Shapechanger Tales novel" or some alternative, it could make people think that it's a collection of short stories, rather than a novel. I think we can agree that would not be good, particularly for getting new readers.

    I still think you could also stand to left-shift the word "Birth" on the cover, but that's just me being my nit-picky self.

  7. #52
    Riyria Revelations Author sullivan_riyria's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tmso View Post
    Okay, well, here's my current book cover for my very first novel. Here's what I would like to know:
    1. Would you be embarrassed to carry around a book with a cover like this?
    2. Does it make you at all interested in the contents?
    3. Is it readable?
    4. Would it also work for an ebook cover/image/thumb print/thingy?


    Also, keep in mind, the following:
    • I'm not very visually creative
    • I don't know any graphic software but CorelDraw and that's what I used
    • Because I don't want to waste money on a good cover for a book whose content will not live up to a paid cover, I've decided to do it myself knowing the above - which means I want to KISS.


    Thanks for any feedback you can offer...
    I don't think red text on black background works well - too little contrast and in small thumbnail format will be difficult to ready.

    Personally I would take the moon out of the text and make it a major graphic. I agree with Kat on the contrast of the book.


    Here are some covers I did for a series of thriller novels that featured "moon" - now granted its a different audience but I think these "show well".



    And yes I realize one is red text on a very dark background but that was a color choice of the author and I made my case and he still wanted it so there you have it.

  8. #53
    Life is fantastic, yes? CMTheAuthor's Avatar
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    Contrast tends to stem more from brightness versus darkness than specific colors. Red against black works just fine, as long as you make it bright red. (And since you'll ask, I did the same, although I had the advantage of a fairly large blue-colored image amidst the black.)

    Anyway, I went ahead and used Paint.NET to look at a shrunken version of Tmso's (let me know if I should call you something else) cover. While it looked pretty good, there are two issues. The first issue, as Kat pointed out, is that the maps become nearly invisible. If you want them seen, you've got to modify them. I don't think this is that big a deal, but it's your call, being your book.

    The second, and more important, is that the byline (running vertical on the left side) also becomes unreadable. You'll have to figure out how to handle that yourself, but that is a problem if you're trying to promote it as part of a series. (Judging from reading the byline, you are.)

  9. #54
    LaerCarroll.com
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    Shapechanger's Birth just showed up on the Barnes & Noble site. I discovered that they display covers in two sizes. The small size is for pages containing several cover images.

    ________

    The large size is for pages for a specific book, which has just one cover image.

    ____

    These are actually created by B&N from the larger JPG image you give them. Its horizontal dimension must be no smaller than 750 pixels, the vertical no larger than 2000 pixels.

    So ask yourself: does your image look good in both sizes?

  10. #55
    LaerCarroll.com
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    A consistent look across all or most of your books helps readers recognize your work.

    Here are covers for the five books I've published or plan to publish on Amazon and B&N in the coming year or so. Some are minimal, but all show the typography and general image structure. The blue background on some is like the TV/film "green screen" (Chroma Key) process, which is used to put up virtual backgrounds behind actors.

    ____________
    The title colors of the first three covers are the same because they are all part of a trilogy. Notice the parallelism of the titles: Shapechanger's Birth/Progress/Destiny. The colors of the last two will NOT be red and green, but they will be different from each other and the first three.

    The next book to go online is this one. It is symbolic. Sasha Canaro goes to the Olympics to support a friend Judo Olympian, not to compete. (Sasha is superhuman.) That friend and a couple dozen others are kidnapped by terrorists, the friend badly hurt. Feel sorry for the terrorists when Sasha catches up to them.


    I could not come up with a good face for my were-seamonster, who is a sort of sexy female Creature from the Black Lagoon. So I show her from the back. Nude. With noticeable curving claws. Up to her knees (and over my byline) in water.


    Some tricks of the trade which you might use. Some were suggested to me by two acquaintances who are commercial artists.

  11. #56
    It could be worse. ~tmso Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
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    Cool beans, everyone. Thanks for taking the time to offer feedback. I will modify accordingly. (Starting from scratch. The landscape idea is a good one...)

    Laer, I do like the consistent look across your books, but I feel the images of the girls need to be more...complex. Maybe it's the lighting?

    Other than that, I think they work well. What background image were you thinking of using for Progess?

    Good luck and congrats on getting the first one out!

  12. #57
    LaerCarroll.com
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    Background for the second Mary McCarthy book? Maybe a photo I took during my few weeks in Ireland and England, but more likely a commercially available photo. Something with a chandelier? To echo the lamp-light in Mary #1?

    I can put photorealistic skin on people, give them complex facial expressions, use realistic lighting, and so on. But it's a question of how much time do I spend on those activities. It might be worth it for a printed book cover. But online images are small and the detail disappears.

    Look at the book covers at Amazon and B&N and see what professional artists are doing. Almost none of them bother. For that matter, look at professional book covers in the bookstore. Few of them bother, either. And when they do, their online images don't show the detail, or it becomes blurred and muddy. Embossed text on print is a good example. Good for print. Bad for online.

    Best I spend more of my time on content. That is what sells a book, and attracts readers to authors, and gets word of mouth. Which is still the biggest source of sales.

    Speaking of which, I've now got to do one final polish of THE SUPER OLYMPIAN before I convert it to Kindle and Nook formats and put it online. In the YA category?

  13. #58
    It could be worse. ~tmso Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
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    Yeah, you are right about the amount of time spent on these things. Plus, in the end, you just have to go with something.

    Content is key, as you said.

    I like the idea of echoing the lamplight.

    Can't answer your last question. What's Sasha's age in the book? Does she experience some sort of coming of age?

  14. #59
    LaerCarroll.com
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    Quote Originally Posted by tmso View Post
    What's Sasha's age in the book? Does she experience some sort of coming of age?
    Don't think it's appropriate to discuss that in this thread. So I've transferred this to the YA thread. See http://www.sffworld.com/forums/showt...148#post667148.

  15. #60
    LaerCarroll.com
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    In another thread:
    Quote Originally Posted by tmso View Post
    Okay, I felt bad about posting in Laer's thread when what I want is just a critique of my book cover.
    No one owns a thread. We can only start them. Everyone who posts comments shares ownership. They can trash the thread or keep to the topic or expand the topic or change the direction.

    In this one I wanted to get some specific help on a line of covers, and some general help on all future covers we might create. That worked out well. LOTS of good advice, with examples.

    This latest example is for the next book I'll put on Amazon and B&N. In creating this cover I learned several lessons. Some of them may be useful to you.


    The first lesson was that you can re-use previous covers and save a lot of time. This was true in DAZ 3D Studio, which I use for the figure, its wardrobe, props, poses, lighting, and viewpoint through a virtual camera. I just copied the very complex work file for Shapechanger's birth, and changed it.

    Ditto Photoshop Elements, which I use for the background, titles, and additional images like the jet aircraft flying over the parking lot where my heroine is crouched. Several terrorists at the Olympics have had the bad luck to meet Sasha on her way to a Judo competition. Now they are dead or dying, and she has their weapons and is ready to deal with more terrorists as needed.

    One of the many good features of Photoshop is that all images can be put into different layers. Each "higher" layer overlays the ones before. So I could (for instance) put in the aircraft and move it around and try out different locations. (Oh, and there are lots of good books on how to use Photoshop, and magazines devoted to art and SFFH art with advice from world-class artists.)

    Didn't like that aircraft? Choose another (non-proprietary) image taken from Google Image search. I used Windows Paint a lot for cropping, resizing, and rotating the JPG images before inputting them into Photoshop. PS has those abilities too, but I found Paint to be a lot simpler and easier to use. (For those on Apple computers, there are several great image editors already on your Mac or freely available.)

    A very general and useful lesson I learned by accident. The best background may not be the most dramatic and complex one. I did a Google search on "clouds" and got 144 MILION images. I skipped through the first few hundred, copying terrific (non-proprietary!) images to my computer. I tried several out as backgrounds and none suited. They hid or washed out the aircraft image which I felt important to my cover.

    Then I decided to look through photos I'd taken. I found a simple somewhat blah photo I'd taken in Galway two years ago while checking the accuracy of details in my Mary McCarthy trilogy. (Online research is wonderful, but sometimes being where your story takes place will tell you all sorts of subliminal detail that research cannot.)

    I used my photo and found its simplicity a plus. The blah sky allowed the aircraft to jump out of the picture. Ditto my main character. And the plain and photorealistic ground and parking lot gives a bit of realism to balance the somewhat fantastic nature of my main character.

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