What does this cover say to you?

Looking for feedback on this concept for a cover design. What does this say to you?

Comments

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    More specifically: What kind of book / story / plot elements would you expect from this cover?
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    If you are going to comment on the cover design above, please do so before reading this opening page, as it might be different from your expectations.

    ------------------ Snip -----------------------------

    CODING HOUR
    Chapter One

    I walked into interrogation room one and the first thing I noticed was that the suspect had his cuffed hands resting on the table with one fist palm up and one fist palm down.  Left fist up. In a certain code, used by a certain secret organization, that means zero in the one’s place. Right fist facing down. That means zero in the tens place.

    Zero zero means “If you know this code, help.”

    I kept a straight face. It could be he just randomly happened to put his hands like that. I looked him over quickly. He had a small mop of unruly hair and a nose that made a quarter-circle down his face, like a beak on an eagle. He was skinny and had a prominent adam’s apple.

    Not unhealthy skinny, like a meth-head, and not skinny like anorexia. Just naturally thin. Thinner than most thin people. But decent teeth, another sign he wasn’t a meth-head.

    He might be part of the association, I supposed, though if he was six inches instead of six feet, you could’ve used him for a can opener. Hook that adam’s apple on the edge of the can, and that nose would pierce sheet metal, no problem. Anyway, I had to check and see what he knew.

    “What’s with the fists? You gonna try to fight me?” I asked.

        “No,” he said, and his up-facing fist changed: he extended three fingers, keeping the thumb and little finger touching like a boy scout salute. His down-facing fist became a peace sign: Two fingers extending from a fist.

    Twenty-three. An odd number in response to a binary question means no. And it confirmed he was using the code. But I still had to play dumb. I leaned on the table, resting both fists on it face down, with the forefinger of my left hand pointing at him. Ten. Query. Or, in this context, What is this about?


  • MaggieMaggie Creator
    I love the top half. Change nothing. I would fade bottom half into navy blue with whith font, 20% opacity for author name. Not narrowed.

    I would guess, mystery, crime, some adventure.
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  • A_A_CainA_A_Cain Oz Author
    Something sci-fi, something dystopian, maybe. 
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    Maggie, mystery/crime/adventure would be on the money. It was the flashing lights in the title, right?

    This is still a very rough mock-up, and I'm still doing edits and rewrites on the story itself. Just finished it a few nights ago.
  • MaggieMaggie Creator
    The lighting up top, yes, it's perfect. The bottom green parts look low res and don't work for me. Perhaps just an extra faded layer of blue. Yes, it looks high tech, and busy night feel.
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  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited June 17
    I get an impression that the book might be about big city crime or be a police procedural or something of that nature (or even a cyberpunk novel)...but no more than that. And that's the problem, I think. The cover more or less connects with a broad genre---whatever it might be---but it says nothing about the book itself. What sets it apart from the 10,000 other books in the same category? I think that the cover needs a little more focus.

    After having written that, I think the image may in fact come closer to hitting the mark if it were a lot clearer as to what is going on. It wasn't until I looked at it for the fourth or fifth time---and then closely---that I realized that the image was a closeup of the fingers of, I presume, gloved hands typing at a keyboard. (I had thought all along that it was a kind of montage...something I suspect other commenters might have thought, too.) If this indeed is what is going on it needs to be very much clearer and apparent at first glance. It doesn't help at all that the author's name is placed directly over a relevant part of the image, making it even harder to tell what it is.


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  • SeamusSeamus Creator
    Techno-thriller
    Tim Reinholt Author of Pow, a ski bum heist adventure
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    The more that I think about it, it might just be the wrong approach.

    It's more of a small-town crime drama, with some secret societies and small-town politics thrown in, and a bit of cyber-drama on top of that. Along with my usual ration of puns and horrible humor.

    Ron, the background photo lost resolution in my mockup (It would be more clear in a real cover) but it is a group of network cables going into a network switch. It was meant to convey computers and technology, but it might have lost something in translation.

    I might go with something that says "crime drama in the mountains," like a composed photo of a pistol under a pine tree or something like that.

    I might also try a couple other variations on this theme.

    The letters "cut out" of another photo -- is that an effective technique, or does it contribute to the cover being too busy?
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    Skoob_ym said:
    The more that I think about it, it might just be the wrong approach.

    It's more of a small-town crime drama, with some secret societies and small-town politics thrown in, and a bit of cyber-drama on top of that. Along with my usual ration of puns and horrible humor.

    I think you need to try to get some of this across in the imagery...especially the small town setting. Actually, putting that setting against the cyber-drama idea might make for some interesting imagery.

    Ron, the background photo lost resolution in my mockup (It would be more clear in a real cover) but it is a group of network cables going into a network switch. It was meant to convey computers and technology, but it might have lost something in translation.

    Sure eluded me. But even at that, given your description above it wouldn't have been sufficient to really get across what I think you may have written. As I mentioned, it's not enough to just identify a book's genre, you need to say something about it specifically, to set it apart from the crowd. Doing something that would include the small town setting would be a good idea.

    I might go with something that says "crime drama in the mountains," like a composed photo of a pistol under a pine tree or something like that.

    Well, you are on the right track at least with that (though you would probably lose the cyber-crime connection).

    I might also try a couple other variations on this theme.

    The letters "cut out" of another photo -- is that an effective technique, or does it contribute to the cover being too busy?

    Try it and see.

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  • A_A_CainA_A_Cain Oz Author
    It's more of a small-town crime drama, with some secret societies and small-town politics thrown in, and a bit of cyber-drama on top of that. Along with my usual ration of puns and horrible humor.
    It doesn't signify that at all to me.  Seems to me to be more a techno-thriller or future dystopian piece first, something like that - I get no sense of Smalltown USA, more a pot-boiler action thing. It doesn't do it for me, I'm afraid - I'd not even click on a cover like that - it's got too many flashing lights for my liking. But then, I'm not target market, so don't worry about that :).  Covers aren't easy, that's for sure, but less is more, I think.
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    "Less is more" should be cross-stitched on a sampler and hung on a wall where anyone hoping to design a book cover can see it.
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  • potetjppotetjp Teacher
    Skoob_ym said:
    More specifically: What kind of book / story / plot elements would you expect from this cover?
    It's either a whonudit or a spy novel either involving a lot of modern technology in a lurid underworld.
  • potetjppotetjp Teacher
    edited June 18
    Skoob_ym said:
    It's more of a small-town crime drama, with some secret societies and small-town politics thrown in, and a bit of cyber-drama on top of that. Along with my usual ration of puns and horrible humor.


    I am French. I can't relate "small-town crime drama" with your cover; all the less so as yesterday I watched the classic US movie "The Last Picture Show" (1971) by Peter Bogdanovich. My advice: take one striking scene in your story and illustrate it.
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    "Less is more" should be cross-stitched on a sampler and hung on a wall where anyone hoping to design a book cover can see it.
    Guilty as charged. :)

    I'm thinking that a completely different approach might be better. The cover style above was kind of what I had in mind when I started writing, but the story drifted away from that as it went along...
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    potetjp said:
    Skoob_ym said:
    It's more of a small-town crime drama, with some secret societies and small-town politics thrown in, and a bit of cyber-drama on top of that. Along with my usual ration of puns and horrible humor.


    I am French. I can't relate "small-town crime drama" with your cover; all the less so as yesterday I watched the classic US movie "The Last Picture" (1971) by Peter Bogdanovich. My advice: take one striking scene in your story and illustrate it.
    Well, our small towns are not like your small towns... :)

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    Okay, so thinking of elements I would want to use:

    Imagine a grassy background, with a pine cone, a pistol, a badge, and a broken drone (the small kind that people use for aerial photos).

    Alternatively, replace the drone with a USB drive, about the size of a pack of cigarettes.

    Any thoughts on those visuals? (I'll try taking some test photos later this week).
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited June 19
    Skoob_ym said:
    Okay, so thinking of elements I would want to use:

    Imagine a grassy background, with a pine cone, a pistol, a badge, and a broken drone (the small kind that people use for aerial photos).

    Alternatively, replace the drone with a USB drive, about the size of a pack of cigarettes.

    Any thoughts on those visuals? (I'll try taking some test photos later this week).
    Something along those lines might work. Just be careful about objectivity: the elements in the image need to be as meaningful to the potential reader as they are to you. And they need to be immediately recognizable at a glance. On this last count I would think that the drone would be a better choice than a USB drive. (Aside from being a lot more interesting visually.) I am not sure if everyone would recognize a drone used specially for aerial photos over any other kind, but just the fact that it's a drone might be sufficient. And make sure that if the drone is broken it is clearly so.

    You might want to give some thought to the pine cone. I don't get it just from the description and I don't think that seeing it would help.

    A grassy background suggests a rural, pastoral setting rather than "small town." Perhaps have a town visible in the distance. Or perhaps instead of a grassy setting place your items on a country road with a town in the distance or maybe a sign saying "Entering Murderville" or whatever it's called. Whatever you do, I think you need to be definite in conveying the setting of your "small town crime drama."

    This was the only thing I've ever done that might come under the same category
    http://black-cat-studios.com/webtests/1000.jpg
    (Just FYI, the B&W photo was from the Library of Congress and the face is a photo of a friend.)
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  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    People keep mentioning the "flashing lights" on the cover. Is the cover a GIF that I've not seen play?  ;)
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  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    People keep mentioning the "flashing lights" on the cover. Is the cover a GIF that I've not seen play?  ;)

    No, that would be tough to do on a real cover (but amazingly effective if you could).

    The photo that the letters are drawn from is of a group of emergency vehicles at night, cropped so that only the lights fill the letters.


    It was taken with a very poor camera, through a window.

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    I think I'll make a field trip to a nearby scenic village and take a few shots. Your "small town" for the Rage cover is actually more developed than what I had in mind. I will also try to group in some technology and a badge or other "police" emblem.

    I'm hoping for time to do some test shots next weekend.
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    Well, I realize that the small town I used on my cover might not be the same as the one in your story...the point was that if it is important that your story is set in a small town that you should show it.

    PS: A gold star for you for taking and using your own photographs!
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