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  1. #1
    KMTolan kmtolan's Avatar
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    Bad Covers

    Sigh.

    I had to do a very hard thing this morning when one of my author friends on Facebook was showing off the cover of their new self-published novel just ahead of its release. Lots of favorable and encouraging comments leading up to mine. Which wasn't so favorable.

    The cover sucked.

    Three images were simply cut and pasted on a purple background - I doubt the artist (and it may have been the author, who knows) could even spell "Photoshop" let alone use it. Composition was horrid on top of that. I was polite, but stated flatly that the work looked amateurish and would do his story a disservice. I guess nobody else had the heart to state the obvious with the author being so excited and all about publishing, but folks need to understand that a bad cover will have a huge impact on a first impression.

    There are a bunch of folks out there who are great Photoshop jockeys - hell, both my kids can render a far better cover than what I saw. I wish writers would think a bit more about such things before rushing to print. People DO judge a book by it's cover.

    Okay, rant over, and I wouldn't be surprised to have a few less friends on FB after this.

    Update: This was a small publisher doing the work (Wings E-Press) and not the author. I would avoid that small press like the plague until they can decide to put out professional covers.

    Kerry
    Last edited by kmtolan; August 14th, 2012 at 10:08 AM.

  2. #2
    aka. Stephen B5 Jones MrBF1V3's Avatar
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    I've been watching the covers on Smashwords with some interest. Some are obviously professional. Some not so obvious. Then there are the ones which are self-made. Font size is important.

    I agree, the cover is the "door mat" for your book. If you want to say "Welcome" then one should say it right. In some cases you might want the cover to say I did it myself. It's worth the extra effort to make sure the cover says what you want it to say. In some cases that means to find someone who can do a good job.

    I hope this doesn't make me a cover snob.

    B5

  3. #3
    It could be worse. ~tmso Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
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    I think we are all cover snobs. What might work for some, doesn't for others.

    But there is a boundary. There is a point when a cover is done so badly, it does a disservice to the story (as Kerry pointed out).

    I think you did the right thing, Kerry. It is your opinion and you gave it in a polite manner (I'm sure). It is up to the author to do what he/she will with it.

  4. #4
    Registered User Loerwyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tmso View Post
    I think we are all cover snobs. What might work for some, doesn't for others.

    But there is a boundary. There is a point when a cover is done so badly, it does a disservice to the story (as Kerry pointed out).

    I think you did the right thing, Kerry. It is your opinion and you gave it in a polite manner (I'm sure). It is up to the author to do what he/she will with it.
    I agree fully with tmso. A bad cover can affect the success of a book, particularly at the unknown/self-pub'd level.

    But some truths are harsh, and we shouldn't shy from them.

  5. #5
    LaerCarroll.com
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    Even covers which are artistically and technically well-done can be poor AS COVERS.

    Covers have to serve several purposes. They must at the very least

    • get attention
    • interest readers (merely neutral impressions won't do)
    • work both in the large and the small (from a distance AND as an online thumbnail)
    • be memorable (readers may not be able or willing to instantly decide to buy)

  6. #6
    We Read for Light Window Bar's Avatar
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    Changing a Tire (d) Cover

    Several months ago, one of the Smashwords authors who had been selling steadily but poorly paid up for a new cover. Immediately thereafter she began hitting the best-seller lists for indies. My memory doesn't serve me well enough to name the book or even the genre (romance or erotica is my recollection), but her author interview supported all of the above remarks.

    That said, no one should be too timid to try something a bit different. Our own Hugh Howey with his Wool series has proven that creativity does not end when we write finis. Hugh, if you read this post, let me once again offer a tip of the hat for a job well done--this time for your instinct in stepping outside the norm of look-alike sci-fi covers.
    Last edited by Window Bar; August 14th, 2012 at 12:48 PM.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by kmtolan View Post
    Sigh.

    I had to do a very hard thing this morning when one of my author friends on Facebook was showing off the cover of their new self-published novel just ahead of its release. Lots of favorable and encouraging comments leading up to mine. Which wasn't so favorable.

    The cover sucked.

    Three images were simply cut and pasted on a purple background - I doubt the artist (and it may have been the author, who knows) could even spell "Photoshop" let alone use it. Composition was horrid on top of that. I was polite, but stated flatly that the work looked amateurish and would do his story a disservice. I guess nobody else had the heart to state the obvious with the author being so excited and all about publishing, but folks need to understand that a bad cover will have a huge impact on a first impression.

    There are a bunch of folks out there who are great Photoshop jockeys - hell, both my kids can render a far better cover than what I saw. I wish writers would think a bit more about such things before rushing to print. People DO judge a book by it's cover.

    Okay, rant over, and I wouldn't be surprised to have a few less friends on FB after this.

    Update: This was a small publisher doing the work (Wings E-Press) and not the author. I would avoid that small press like the plague until they can decide to put out professional covers.

    Kerry
    I hope you didn't use the term sucked but if they asked for feedback I think you owe it to them to be honest.

    Not harsh or mean-spirited, but critically honest.

  8. #8
    LaerCarroll.com
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    Quote Originally Posted by kshRox View Post
    ... you owe it to them to be ... Not harsh or mean-spirited, but critically honest.
    Elizabeth Moon's recent thread comes to mind, on avoiding destructive criticism and focusing on constructive criticism.

    Also, the comments people in that thread made to be sure any suggestions you make are clearly examples of what might be done, not dogmatic prescriptions.

  9. #9
    KMTolan kmtolan's Avatar
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    Who, me?

    Quote Originally Posted by kshRox View Post
    I hope you didn't use the term sucked but if they asked for feedback I think you owe it to them to be honest.

    Not harsh or mean-spirited, but critically honest.
    God forbid. Actually exchanged mails with the author afterwards and no, there's no hurt feelings (beyond, I suspect, the author's regret over seeing others agree with his own assessment). I felt his work deserved better and said so. Suggested he might see if this publisher would be open to a supplied cover but doubt there's time. Really feel sorry for the author.

    Kerry

  10. #10
    Has a custom user title! Yjar's Avatar
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    They say never to judge a book by its cover. While true, I can't help but think the author was lazy when I see one of the many horrible book covers.

    And I don't like corny images of the characters, it's pretty much just saying not to take that book out in public. Also it takes away from imagining what they look like through the descriptions given. Many books I've read and thought of such inspiration characters, but when I see the book printed with another cover, that consists of the characters drawn poorly, it's kind of uninspiring and hard to shake out of your head.

  11. #11
    Was: "Virangelus" A. Lynn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yjar View Post
    They say never to judge a book by its cover. While true, I can't help but think the author was lazy when I see one of the many horrible book covers.

    And I don't like corny images of the characters, it's pretty much just saying not to take that book out in public. Also it takes away from imagining what they look like through the descriptions given. Many books I've read and thought of such inspiration characters, but when I see the book printed with another cover, that consists of the characters drawn poorly, it's kind of uninspiring and hard to shake out of your head.
    Lol, I'm glad to see this thread is still alive.

    A good example of what you are talking about, Yjar, can be seen in Roger Zelazny's "Chronicles of Amber," which has multiple renditions of the series' protagonist Corwin
    http://julianperezconquerstheunivers...hits-nine.html

    Two of the official artworks I cannot seem to take seriously. The smaller cover, with the red letters, came to define what I thought Corwin should look like and he's been that way in my mind ever since.

    Unlike others, I really like to know what my characters look like. That is the one thing I dislike about Piers' Anthony's work, I wish he'd describe his characters. But then again, I'm obsessed with characters.

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