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message 1: by Robert (new)

Robert Walker | 2 comments Hello,
Please review the cover of my book, a 50-year historical fiction saga about the struggles of the poor, uneducated Murphey family living on the American frontier before and during the Revolutionary War era. The cover features illustrations of the main characters.
Thanks very much.
Robert Walker

The Old Blue Coat by Robert W. Walker

message 2: by Harald, The Swimmer (new)

Harald | 387 comments Mod
Hi Robert! Thanks for coming over from Historical Fictionistas to post this.

This is a published print book (2015, CreateSpace), so not sure how much you want to change, but since you’re asking, here goes…

First, the main issue I have is with the “at-a-glanceability” factor, which is critical, in my view. The fact is, many—if not most potential readers—will see the cover in very small thumbnail size. Like these I just checked on Amazon in your category (Lit & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Historical):

At top are the Top 3 Bestsellers in Historical Fiction at this moment. These sizes average (on my desktop computer) about 90x135 pixels. And the Hot New Releases average around 55x82. Now here’s yours in the same x135 and x82 sizes (easiest is to use the vertical dimension):


The main differences I see are: (1) they have dark backgrounds, you have light yellow, which almost disappears on the white background; (2) the main titles (or author names if famous) are readable, yours is basically not; (3) they have full-bleed artwork showing ONE main thing or motif that’s dramatic and/or intriguing, you have multiple elements that overwhelm the eye; and finally, (4) they use very refined typography (the fonts), whereas yours is pretty plain (sorry). You may not be able to compete with top designers (two of these are from major publishers), but you could make some simple changes to improve your cover, in my opinion. Here are some ideas:

— The main title (“The Old Blue Coat”) really needs to have much more emphasis. It should be big and bold. And hopefully with a more interesting type font. You can Google around for free fonts and filter by era (e.g., 18th century). Then you’ll be communicating the name of the book that’s instantly readable at small size and with a feeling for the times.

— Try changing the background color. If you’re going to go with an overall flat color (light yellow here), then give the cover an “inner rule” (a dark box) so it stands out against a white background.

— I realize your story is basically a generational saga with multiple characters (and you want to show lots of people), but honestly, showing multiple main figures on a cover doesn’t work very well (they’re too small to see and diffuse the impact). It would be much better to show ONE main figure. Not sure that’s possible here (how about Molly?), but see if that could work. Or maybe two? But make them big and bold. Maybe a profile coming in from the right side and overlapping the flag?

— Another thing that would help a lot is to get all that small text off the front cover. As you can clearly see, it’s unreadable at small size. I’m sure you worked hard on it, but removing it would free up the cover to emphasize the main elements: (1) main title, (2) main artwork, (3) author name. What I would suggest is then putting this text on the back cover so it could still be a selling point (your bio can go inside the book).

I know I’m kinda ripping up your entire cover concept, but I truly hope this helps you. Your story deserves it!

message 3: by Robert (new)

Robert Walker | 2 comments Harald, I appreciated your expertise. If I change the cover of "The Old Blue Coat" I will give your thoughts careful consideration. Thanks again, Robert Walker.

message 4: by Harald, The Swimmer (new)

Harald | 387 comments Mod
You're welcome, Robert. Good luck with it!

message 5: by Eileen (new)

Eileen Iciek | 23 comments Great comments, Harald. A lot to learn from them.

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