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Thread: Bad Covers

  1. #16
    Book covers have a lot to.do with the size of the publisher you are dealing with. Don't expect a small publisher or a self publisher to have the financial resources to give you a Boris painting or a Rowena painting cover for your novel. They are high priced fantasy cover artists. I happen to know twenty years ago Boris was getting paid one million dollars per cover.

    Smaller publishers cannot afford the services of high profile cover illustrators.

    They have to use the services of overseas graphic design companies. They can be hit and miss with their work.

  2. #17
    KMTolan kmtolan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Modern Day Myth View Post
    They have to use the services of overseas graphic design companies. They can be hit and miss with their work.
    The way it works with my publisher is that they contract out to an individual who uses a combination of their own skills and stock art to come up with a mockup. Once approved (and the stock art paid for), a final cover is created. The results can be quite impressive. Amanda Kesley has done most of my covers (razzdazzdesign.com) and you can see my point on her site.

    Kerry

  3. #18
    We Read for Light Window Bar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kmtolan View Post
    The way it works with my publisher is that they contract out to an individual who uses a combination of their own skills and stock art to come up with a mockup. Once approved (and the stock art paid for), a final cover is created. The results can be quite impressive. Amanda Kesley has done most of my covers (razzdazzdesign.com) and you can see my point on her site. --Kerry
    Hiya Kerry -- Is it fair to ask what a general price range would be?

    Thx-- WB

  4. #19
    KMTolan kmtolan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Window Bar View Post
    Hiya Kerry -- Is it fair to ask what a general price range would be?

    Thx-- WB
    Really have no clue on the matter. My publisher handles all that good stuff - I just scribble stuff.

    Kerry

  5. #20
    it could be worse Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Window Bar View Post
    Hiya Kerry -- Is it fair to ask what a general price range would be?

    Thx-- WB
    I've asked around and prices vary widely. I'm guessing someone like the one Kerry pointed out will be in the $400-500 price range. But I don't know, as I haven't asked her/him/them.

    I've asked an overseas artist what she charged and she quoted $450EUROS (which is around $550 US). I've also asked a U.K. artist I found on DeviantArt to cobble some pictures together for me at the tune of 40lbs (about $60 US). I was happy with the result, but I did the typography and though it came out serviceable, it is not a professional product. Here it is:



    Price is going to depend on their experience and whether you want them to do the entire package, and, also, their experience.

  6. #21
    Ataraxic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    kshRox -- LOL, the point was that publishers use the color green in book covers on a regular basis and it's not discreetly hidden either. So I don't know where the rumor that they hated green got started, but it's incorrect. Anything someone tells you that all editors want or don't want or all agents or all publishers -- unless it's talking about a readable ms. that doesn't have a lot of typos, it is automatically incorrect. You can just toss it out right there.

    As for covers, artwork does vary a lot in cost. But if you have someone in your family who uses PowerPoint all the time, you might be able to come up with something more cheaply. Just be careful about using graphics that you can buy or are free for use and then use as you please, and be even more careful with stock photos and the credit owners therein.

  7. #22
    You can shop around on guru.com for an artist and / or graphic design company. Australia is on the expensive side. China, India, and France are more affordable.

    You can get good art for $400 to $500.

    A company I worked with over the Internet in France has a great portfolio of science fiction book covers they have done for publishers around the world.

    Obviously, the bigger the budget, the better the work they will deliver.

  8. #23
    LaerCarroll.com
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    For a group of people who are interested in writing, many of the posts in this thread and lots of others in this forum are strangely feeble!

    So what if you like or don't like a cover, or a book, or whatever? Your opinion is worthless if you don't give at least a short reason or two why so that the rest of us can understand and benefit from your judgment.


    Practicing what I'm preaching: Nila's (tmso's) cover above. I think parts of it work well, others less so.

    The good first. The title is large enough to read from a distance if it was a book cover, or on a Web page if it's being sold online. Súria has an exotic appeal (at least to me) and piques my curiosity. Normally I dislike ornate fonts, but this variation of a capital S (or so I read it) reinforces the exotic feel.

    If you'd make your name larger this would help to establishing you as a brand that I'd remember. I suggest you ditch the initials. Nila White is a terrific name for an author, short and memorable in its combination of the ordinary with the unusual. N. E. White is forgettable.

    If you are going to use a short story in this size font you might want to place it under the title. This would leave your name all by itself, drawing more attention to it. Ditch the by. It's unneeded. Worse, it takes up visual space more useful for your graphic.

    Speaking of which, the image shows too little detail at this size (123 x 200 pixels), not even a mysteriously vague ghostly presence of some kind in a fog hiding (perhaps) dire threat. Amazon uses a 300x300 pixel image on each book's Web page. Show me an image of this size and I might see enough detail to become interested.

    The image would not be important if your name was famous, or if the title had some strong emotional impact, but until you do become famous the image (or title) must carry more emotional or meaningful impact.

    Finally, I want to repeat a point I made earlier. The artistic and technical quality can be absolutely wonderful, but it means NOTHING if the overall design of a cover does not intrigue and inform readers.
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    Last edited by Laer Carroll; August 15th, 2012 at 03:41 PM.

  9. #24
    Before we walked, we learned to crawl.

    Understand, besides the size of the publisher, this is a business.

    Especially in the case of a large publisher, a high profile writer will be paired up with a high profilefantasy book cover illustrator.

    Martin Caidin got paired up with Boris because Cyborg was already adopted for the TV series, The Six Million Dollar Man.

    Projected sales for the novel warranted an illustrator of the caliber of Boris.

    Good writing also needs a good publicity machine, besides the cover.

    But here, the focus is on good writing.

  10. #25
    e-author MrBF1V3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post
    kshRox -- LOL, the point was that publishers use the color green in book covers on a regular basis and it's not discreetly hidden either. So I don't know where the rumor that they hated green got started, but it's incorrect. Anything someone tells you that all editors want or don't want or all agents or all publishers -- unless it's talking about a readable ms. that doesn't have a lot of typos, it is automatically incorrect. You can just toss it out right there.
    My point exactly, I never believed the green thing.

    At this point I cannot afford Boris, but it's a good idea to find/produce/buy the best cover we can get for what we have published. If a publishing company will do that for us, all the better. (if they do it right.)

    I do have an artistic bent, I know a good website for public domain pictures, occasionally I get by with a little help from my friends (thanks virangelus, and others with opinions.) But I don't think anything I have would be mistaken for something a big publisher would have produced.

    Ms. White, I find myself agreeing with Mr. Carroll about your cover. Interesting picture, nice color palate. The title is good, and somewhat intriguing. Your name and the subtitles could be better. --I'd love to see a full sized picture.

    B5

    Um... We have a -focus- here?

  11. #26
    LaerCarroll.com
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    Steve (B5), we're giving "big publishers" too much credit. If you spend some time in the bookstore looking at covers, you'll find that even the biggest often have terrible or at least mediocre covers. And sometimes the smaller publishers have great covers.

    It depends as much on the art director as on the artists s/he hires to do the job. Sometimes the director has several jobs to do and too little time to do them all, and art direction is only one of those - especially since the latest rounds of budget tightening. Sometimes the director has terrific artistic sense, but doesn't realize that cover design is about the whole picture (so to speak!) as well - font design and layout, avoiding cover styles that have become over-used, etc.

    If you're self-publishing, one way to get a cover is to approach a local school of art & design. Sometimes you'll find enormously talented students to do the job for you. Who may have had a number of courses in commercial art, including cover creation. Be ready to pay them what they are worth, not just starving-student wages.

    A niece of one of my friends is just such super-talented and smart artist. When she graduated she had a dozen companies head-hunting her, and she took a job at one of the premier animation companies, passing up a higher-paid job with a large advertising agency because animation is her love.

  12. #27
    Pro Bono Graphic Designer virangelus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post
    kshRox -- LOL, the point was that publishers use the color green in book covers on a regular basis and it's not discreetly hidden either. So I don't know where the rumor that they hated green got started, but it's incorrect. Anything someone tells you that all editors want or don't want or all agents or all publishers -- unless it's talking about a readable ms. that doesn't have a lot of typos, it is automatically incorrect. You can just toss it out right there.
    Good morning from the Mountain Time Zone, KatG

    I'm the starter of the "green" rumor mill, but to be precise, it's very specific uses of green. The green I was presented (when I started the alleged "rumor" as you call it) I felt in my trained opinion, would have been doldrum, and boring. It would NOT have caught anybody's eye, and even if it had caught someone's eye, it would have said "I'm a nature book, not a fantasy book." So let's keep my rumor's birth in context. Also, I used this exact language when speaking to this person about any of my advice.
    In similar fashion to the "Pirate Code," please keep in mind that these thoughts are more like "guidelines."
    So I did not say it's a hard fast "rule."

    Here's the exact entry/history of why I said what I did. Please see the excerpt from Jame Gurney's "Color and Light," page 82, section "Elements of Color." (Note: I'm going to try to keep it to the point, but if you want to read the whole section, look for the book on Google Books or just buy yourself a copy. James Gurney, author and artist of Dinotopia, is an excellent artist and teacher)

    The Green Problem Green is one of the most common colors in nature, but it has presented such a perennial challenge to artists and designers that many have banished it from the palette. Why is green a problem, and how can you solve it? There is no doubt green is a fundamentally important color. Many modern psychologists and color theorists regard it as a primary color... The human eye is more sensitive to yellow-green wavelengths than to any other, that's why the spectrum or the rainbow looks lighter in that section. Yet in the field of book cover design, there's an old saying that "green covers don't sell."--- Costume designers have said that green often looks ghastly in stage lighting. Gallery directors have reported that clients aren't attracted to paintings with a strong greenish cast unless it is handled correctly. Evidently this was an issue even 150 years ago, when Asher Brown Durand commented on "the common prejudice against green. I can well understand why it has been denounced by the Artist, for no other color is attended with equal embarrassments."
    For all of you do-it-yourself cover-makers, here is how James Gurney recommends for you to "handle" green in your covers.
    • You can banish green pigments from the palette and mix them from various blues and yellows. The resulting mixtures will be weaker and more varied, both qualities that you want.
    • Avoid monotony. Vary your mixtures of greens at both the small scale (leaf to leaf) and the large scale (tree to tree).
    • Mix up a supply of pink or reddish gray on your palette and weave it in and out of the greens. Painter Stapleton Kearns calls this method "smuggling reds."
    • Prime the canveas with pinks or reds, so that they show through here and there to enliven the greens.
    • This one is added by me: feature either some extreme action on your green cover, OR feature some extremely mysterious elements, such as a green fog or glowing toxic waste.


    So here comes the fun part, KatG. Let's re-examine your green colors with the above training in mind. How many times did the very talented cover artists (or maybe not so talented cover artists) smuggle the reds? The first cover you introduced has mysteriously green fogs, and used a red-base for the greens. Also, it dangled red apples in front of the viewer, which is the complimentary color to green (in other words, the two colors set each other off and "vibrate," thus beckoning the viewer to see it). Let's go through the list, I believe someone already noted that a couple of the green colors you introduced were, in fact, boring.

    Furthermore, all of this serves to reinforce the same message to the self-published, DIY artists/writers out there:

    DO NOT HIRE YOUR THIRTEEN YEAR OLD PIMPLE-FACED COUSIN TO PUT YOUR COVER TOGETHER IN PHOTOSHOP/PAINT/DRAW/GIMP.

    (please note: the below portion is addressed to all SFF people, not just KatG)
    We trained Graphic Artists/Animation Artists/Artists in general have been fed very important information that you, the layman, may or may not be aware of. A lot of this is not common-everyday knowledge, unless you're like me and you obsess and train and focus on colors, and because you make a living in Advertising Graphic and Design (which I do, and continue to train and hone my skills in).

    So KatG, I hope I've helped set aside your worries that I'm some babbling fool starting so-called "rumors" (which, I'm not, and I didn't. :P I just told this person that if they are going to make their own cover, avoid green. I also told them the particular snapshot of green they are using, is not very eye catching.).
    Last edited by virangelus; August 16th, 2012 at 10:24 AM. Reason: Wanted to be specific

  13. #28
    Pro Bono Graphic Designer virangelus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrBF1V3 View Post
    My point exactly, I never believed the green thing.
    Hey, BF, I think I presented very good reasons for not using the cover you introduced :P Thank you. But to each his own of course, it's still a highly subjective and holistic area in the end. Design is not "math." (Unless you're using a Grid and the Golden Ratio)

  14. #29
    e-author MrBF1V3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by virangelus View Post
    Hey, BF, I think I presented very good reasons for not using the cover you introduced :P Thank you. But to each his own of course, it's still a highly subjective and holistic area in the end. Design is not "math." (Unless you're using a Grid and the Golden Ratio)
    I was in no way dissing you, and of all the reasons for not using some of the covers I've contrived, the color would not be the first one. I was offering an example of what happens when an off-hand comment or more detailed guideline is somehow elevated to inviolable law. As KatG has shown, there are good covers which contain green, even if there are people who don't like them.

    A lot of it is the anxiety thing some of us writers have. We somehow think if we use the right font, the perfect form, have a cover letter that fits into the exact perimeters, if we have a great hook that pulls in even the most skeptical of writers, if we submit at the proper time of day when the moon is in the last quarter on the third Thursday of the month, with a cover that clicks all the boxes, that publication and best seller status is a lock.

    You know more about it than I do, and your opinion is extremely valuable.

    Have I backed down enough?

    B5

  15. #30
    Pro Bono Graphic Designer virangelus's Avatar
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    ^^ Yeah I see what you mean, my apologies. Good ol' text reduces 75% communication, and I do need to remember that.

    Yeah, again, people what a mathematical formula, or so it seems to me. They want the assurance that 4+4 always equals 8, but this industry is too holistic. Everything is a case by case basis, right?

    Though I do know one tip that is always true: Never write in fully caps-locked cursive characters, it's HORRIBLE! I think that's the only irrefutable rule. Try it: you'll see what I mean!

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