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Feedback on my cover please

LarikaLarika Bibliophile
edited November 22 in Author Workshop

Basira is a Saudi citizen. She visits her half sister Joy for an extended visit. Joy is half British and lives in Scotland. Basira meets an Arabic speaking Copt Christian there and eventually decides to follow his religion. She moves to Egypt with him but when her father dies she decides to return to Saudi for his funeral. If the Saudi religious police find out that she is now a Christian she will be accused of apostasy and if she does not retract she will be killed. Basira's story is the third in my “Stolen” series.

Please comment on my cover. Thanks


 






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Comments

  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited November 22
    Very nice artwork! As usual, the first thing I would suggest is to lose the border. It really contributes nothing to the effectiveness of the cover. On the contrary, it distracts and it reduces the relative size of the other, more important, elements. So...for starters, remove the border and increase the size of the illustration.

    We we can talk about the rest of the design after that, but I might make the suggestion now that you make the text—the title, subtitle and your name—either all flush left or right (the latter would, I think, work best with the cover layout since it would tie the type with the illustration). The indented subtitle doesn’t look right.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile
    edited November 22
    Ron I think most of the border will go when I make the cover. I still use the old cover and it goes over the edges.  I would prefer a bigger image but I fear that the edges would be lost.  I'll try what you advise tomorrow when I trudge upstairs to my computer. Thanks for your help. Happy Thanksgiving (is that the greeting for Thanksgiving?)
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited November 22
    It’s not really necessary to leave so much room for trim. The best thing is to simply keep anything important away from the edges. A quarter of an inch is more than enough. Yes, you may lose a little of the illustration, but nothing really important. Any border like the one you are using is simply distracting no matter how much winds up actually showing. I have done a very large number of book covers for both traditional print and POD and have never had to resort to including a border to allow for trim. You cover design will infinitely better and more professional without one.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile
    Thanks, I'll have a go! Also, unlike my 2 previous books in the series I'm trying more "showing" and less "telling." If I develop the skill I'll revise the other 2. Skoob was helpful in his comments and he "practices what he preaches" in his books.
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Like Liz, I learned to keep the main image away from the edges to stop bits getting trimmed off. At times I use a border, but it usually extends to the spine and back cover, so it is really a background.

    There's times I often do it like so >>

    http://www.lulu.com/shop/kevin-lomas/lilium-saffron-dewbell-part-two/paperback/product-23721336.html

    Or like so >>  http://www.lulu.com/shop/kevin-lomas/houze-keeper-vanted/paperback/product-22665444.html

    I don't see how it detracts from what is important, unless the border is huge and the text small.

    I suppose one could extend the actual background image to the edges keeping the text and foreground away from the edges, like so   http://www.lulu.com/shop/k-lomas/is-it-a-bird-is-it-a-plane/ebook/product-23239271.html  (It's at night :)  )

     but images/art is usually 'framed.'


  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    But, Ron is right about that border. It's the colour makes it very distracting. The simplest cure for it is to make it the same purple you have the text on.

    I am not keen on the yellow text on purple, though.

    The text is a bit unbalanced also. Your name needs moving down a bit so the gap from the bottom is the same as the gap above the title.

    Move the subtitle down.

    Perhaps make the text larger?

    They are not centralised, either.

    Picasso would be proud of the image. But is it relevant?

    BTW. There's a light purple line between the purple and the image, should there be?

    PS: that's not the actual resolution is it? Because it is breaking up in to blurred pixels.

  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile
    edited November 23
    Thanks both. She's caught in a spider's web Kevin. I thought that as yellow and purple are complementary colours it might work. I'll draw a more realistic woman caught in a web and see what that looks like and on the other I'll get rid of the border and try what Ron suggested. Well it's all indoor work on the computer. Hours outside with my easel and paints, or sketching with pad and pencil, are over! I made the cover 300dpi Kevin. I made the border in a clashing colour to show the clashes between the women striving for freedom and the religious police and Sharia law.
  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile
    Another attempt.
    Maybe something completely different?

  • Like Liz, I learned to keep the main image away from the edges to stop bits getting trimmed off. At times I use a border, but it usually extends to the spine and back cover, so it is really a background.

    There's times I often do it like so >>

    http://www.lulu.com/shop/kevin-lomas/lilium-saffron-dewbell-part-two/paperback/product-23721336.html

    Or like so >>  http://www.lulu.com/shop/kevin-lomas/houze-keeper-vanted/paperback/product-22665444.html

    I don't see how it detracts from what is important, unless the border is huge and the text small.

    If you don’t see it, then it’s probably impossible to explain how and why making the image smaller than the full size of the cover then surrounding it in black or some other color makes it less effective.

    If nothing else, it looks like a page from someone’s family album.

    I suppose one could extend the actual background image to the edges keeping the text and foreground away from the edges, like so   http://www.lulu.com/shop/k-lomas/is-it-a-bird-is-it-a-plane/ebook/product-23239271.html  (It's at night :)  )

     but images/art is usually 'framed.'

    Sure, if you are hanging it on a wall.


    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited November 23
    Larika said:
    Another attempt.
    Maybe something completely different?
    Both of these are great improvements! The second is probably by far the best since it does a better job of suggesting something of what the book might be about. And by being less static than the first cover, it is more involving.  The bullseye effect of the web draws attention to the woman, and the eye as the focus naturally attracts the casual gaze. The web effect also has a subtle resemblance to shattered glass, which heightens the sense of tension and drama.

    My main suggestion would be to rethink the choice of typeface. First of all, the one you used is used far too often. You probably also want something simpler with such a busy background. This is not too bad with the title, but it makes the subtitle and your name much too hard to read.

    And while you are at it, move the subtitle away from your name and closer to the title. Right now it seems to suggest that you are a Saudi citizen.

    (PS You might want to eventually make the woman look more Saudi. At the moment, with the loose hair, she perhaps looks a little too Western.)
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile
    edited November 23

    Yes, I wanted to suggest that as she has become a Christian she is not wearing the headscarf anymore and lets her hair free. Maybe I can put her in a coloured abaya and headscarf as she does return to Saudi for her father's funeral. In some places, like Jeddah, women  can wear coloured abayas. The only problem is her father lives in Riyadh where women must wear black abayas and headscarves. I think that will cause too much black. Maybe I can make the web white? (The enclosing cloak) I take your point about the font.  Thanks Ron I'll have another go later. Do you like the white colour for the font?

    PS I am in our local library and I asked the librarian and the library assistant which they preferred and they both said the first.They said it was more striking and a cleaner cover. I think I will tidy the second one up a bit.

  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited November 23
    Larika said:

    Yes, I wanted to suggest that as she has become a Christian she is not wearing the headscarf anymore and lets her hair free. 

    To understand that would really require some preknowledge of the book on the part of the potential reader...which they would not have.

    Maybe I can put her in a coloured abaya and headscarf as she does return to Saudi for her father's funeral. In some places, like Jeddah, women  can wear coloured abayas. The only problem is her father lives in Riyadh where women must wear black abayas and headscarves.

    Ditto what I said above. It’s easy sometimes to forget that your potential reader is not as familiar with your story as you are. I know it can be hard for an author to be objective about their own work, so you always have to be careful to not make it necessary to have read the book to understand or appreciate the cover. Getting the idea of the book across is the main thing. If, for instance, it is important to convey your heroine’s conversion you need to get that idea across pretty explicitly. Using symbolic colors may be much too subtle. A cover needs to get the basic idea of a book’s nature or theme across with some immediacy and clarity. It can be filled with incidental details that relate to specific events in the story but those would be secondary.

     



    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile
    edited November 23

    Had another go, still not right!

  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited November 23
    Keep at it! Even a professional, working for a traditional publisher, can take several tries to zero in on exactly what is needed. 
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Thanks both. She's caught in a spider's web Kevin.

    Ah, that's not what I thought. It really does look like a Picasso.

    See the source image

     I thought that as yellow and purple are complementary colours it might work.

    Not to my taste.

     I'll draw a more realistic woman caught in a web and see what that looks like

    No! It's fine, leave it at that. But if you like try to make it so that the lines of the web are not actually literally dissecting the face.

     and on the other I'll get rid of the border and try what Ron suggested.

    Indeed, that's a matter of choice.

     Well it's all indoor work on the computer. Hours outside with my easel and paints, or sketching with pad and pencil, are over!

    The rain does tend to wash away the paint  :)

    I made the cover 300dpi Kevin. I made the border in a clashing colour to show the clashes between the women striving for freedom and the religious police and Sharia law.

    Sorry, only you know why you did it that colour, it cannot be guessed.

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    If you don’t see it, then it’s probably impossible to explain how and why making the image smaller

    Hardly that much smaller.

     than the full size of the cover then surrounding it in black or some other color makes it less effective.

    Well, as I said, where possible the edge matches the main background colour of the image, and it is the same colour as the spine and back cover, so it's not exactly just a border.

    One problem with covers on line is if a lot of white is used on a them, because the thumbnails are on a white background, or even all white covers, it can just look like text on nothing, so  a border can help to show the edge of the cover.

    If nothing else, it looks like a page from someone’s family album.

    In your opinion.  :)  Interesting people if so, seeing that I write SF.

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Both of these are great improvements!

    Hrmm ...

    The text now looks as if it's crammed to the side.

     The second is probably by far the best since it does a better job of suggesting something of what the book might be about.

    I am so sorry, but I think that one is an absolute mess. :( the web now looks like brambles.

     And by being less static than the first cover, it is more involving.  The bullseye effect of the web draws attention to the woman, and the eye as the focus naturally attracts the casual gaze. The web effect also has a subtle resemblance to shattered glass, which heightens the sense of tension and drama.

    I will say nothing more about that.

    My main suggestion would be to rethink the choice of typeface. First of all, the one you used is used far too often. You probably also want something simpler with such a busy background. This is not too bad with the title, but it makes the subtitle and your name much too hard to read.

    Indeed. A solid font would be better.

    And while you are at it, move the subtitle away from your name and closer to the title. Right now it seems to suggest that you are a Saudi citizen.

    It's a strange subtitle.

    (PS You might want to eventually make the woman look more Saudi. At the moment, with the loose hair, she perhaps looks a little too Western.)

    Some do  :)

    See the source image



  • (PS You might want to eventually make the woman look more Saudi. At the moment, with the loose hair, she perhaps looks a little too Western.)

    Some do  :)

    See the source image

    Indeed, some do. But since it might be a good idea to have the woman on the cover read immediately as a Saudi to the potential reader, you probably don’t want to illustrate her by using an exception. 
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • If you don’t see it, then it’s probably impossible to explain how and why making the image smaller

    Hardly that much smaller.

    It doesn’t matter. Any amount smaller has an impact.

     than the full size of the cover then surrounding it in black or some other color makes it less effective.

    Well, as I said, where possible the edge matches the main background colour of the image, and it is the same colour as the spine and back cover, so it's not exactly just a border.

    You have a color frame surrounding the entirety of the cover art. That is a border. The spine can pick up a color theme from the cover without having to include that color as a solid frame around the art.

    One problem with covers on line is if a lot of white is used on a them, because the thumbnails are on a white background, or even all white covers, it can just look like text on nothing, so  a border can help to show the edge of the cover.

    If nothing else, it looks like a page from someone’s family album.

    In your opinion.  :)  Interesting people if so, seeing that I write SF.

    I have no idea what that last sentence is trying to say.


    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile
    edited November 24
    2 more Any feedback welcome, THANKS.
    The tatoo on her wrist is a Coptic cross
    What would be a better colour for the text? or font?
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited November 24
    Larika said:
    2 more Any feedback welcome, THANKS.
    The tatoo on her wrist is a Coptic cross
    What would be a better colour for the text? or font?
    The first example is really, really nice! I think that anyone looking at it would immediately get some idea of the nature or theme of the book. Great job! Probably the only thing I might suggest doing is playing around a little with the position of the type. Right now, the fist is emphasizing your name more than the title. I would make the title much larger and move your name elsewhere . 
    The Coptic cross is a nice touch, but I would not count on every potential reader recognizing it for what it is or its significance in the story. Keep it in, though.

    The second cover was probably better in its original version. The ambiguity of the web/shattered glass effect was nice, the scale of the web was much simpler and the size of the woman was also better. If you were to replace, for instance, the woman in the original cover with the woman from the second version---making her a little larger and including a little less of her body---that would be good. The type is a real problem, though. A decorative typeface like Algerian set against a busy background just makes it harder to read. Exacerbating this is the fact that the type is black against a dark, low-key color.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile
    edited November 24
    Thanks Ron, I'll have a go tomorrow. Yes, the positioning of the fist seems as though it's going to punch Elizabeth Keimach.  :) I'll change it.
  • Larika said:
    Another attempt.
    Maybe something completely different?

    Of these two, I liked the top one better, especially the hair. It has a fifties/sixties retro look to the design, and the hint of cubism is a bit of a throwback. Also, the font face in the first is better. Granted, I have an affinity for old books, so I may not be the best judge.

    In the second, the hair seems a bit of a distracting element. In the first, we might believe that her hair is in a Western or a Saudi style (i.e. Hijab), but in the second it is definitely Western.

    But with the hair perhaps darker and perhaps the whole look given more definition, I can see where the second might work well also.
  • Larika said:
    2 more Any feedback welcome, THANKS.
    The tatoo on her wrist is a Coptic cross
    What would be a better colour for the text? or font?
    Of these, I like the first. As a thought, if you wished to be subtle with the tattoo, you might use this symbol instead: http://www.amyrosedavis.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/letter-N-300x300.jpg (black on white, of course)

    It is a symbol related to exactly the sort of struggle that you are portraying in the book.* Arabic speakers will immediately "get it" though Western readers might not immediately.

    Alternatively, a solid color cover with the title, subtitle, author name and this symbol
    https://i.pinimg.com/474x/b2/d6/16/b2d616c366db09b4a1cfbc71652e997a--letter-n-google-search.jpg
    might work well, also.


    ______________________
    * The Arabic letter "N" is often tattooed on the arms or marked on the houses of Christians living in Arab communities. It marks them as "Nasrani," followers of the "Nazarene."
  • I really liked the Picasso style until I saw the fist, now I like that one best
    Tim Reinholt Author of Pow, a ski bum heist adventure
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Indeed, some do. But since it might be a good idea to have the woman on the cover read immediately as a Saudi to the potential reader, you probably don’t want to illustrate her by using an exception. 

    You are possibly right, but stereotypes should be avoided :)

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    I do miss the old coloured text options, I am no longer sure what I am replying to here! 


    If you don’t see it, then it’s probably impossible to explain how and why making the image smaller

    Hardly that much smaller.

    It doesn’t matter. Any amount smaller has an impact.

    Is that not just an opinion?


     than the full size of the cover then surrounding it in black or some other color makes it less effective.

    Well, as I said, where possible the edge matches the main background colour of the image, and it is the same colour as the spine and back cover, so it's not exactly just a border.

    You have a color frame surrounding the entirety of the cover art. That is a border. The spine can pick up a color theme from the cover without having to include that color as a solid frame around the art.

    But I like it that way. That's the simplest answer.


    One problem with covers on line is if a lot of white is used on a them, because the thumbnails are on a white background, or even all white covers, it can just look like text on nothing, so  a border can help to show the edge of the cover.

    If nothing else, it looks like a page from someone’s family album.

    In your opinion.    Interesting people if so, seeing that I write SF.

    I have no idea what that last sentence is trying to say.

    Most, if not all of my covers, do indeed show the people, or main person, in the stories.

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    I also like the new first one. I am not at all keen on the very thick spider's web on the second one. It really is too thick. I assume it's also only symbolic?

    Although I preferred the first original one.

    The arm? Have you thought of actually using a photo of a real arm?


  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile
     I think the consensus is the fist with a few alterations . I thank you all. Now I can get on with finishing the novel.
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