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Archived Workshop No New Posts > Need Opinions on Medieval Fantasy Book Cover Designs

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message 1: by Jordan (new)

Jordan Murray (goodreadscomjordan_rmurray) | 34 comments I'm publishing my first book in the next month or so, and find I'm stumbling on one of the last and most important decisions - my book's cover design.

When I tried designing my own I wasn't happy with the quality. Finally, I decided to do a contest through a third party and pick a winner. The only thing is... I ended up liking 3 totally different designs.

I've stared at these for too long and lost perspective. Which do you find the most engaging for a fantasy book? Here's the tagline, to help get a general idea of the story:

In a land where magic was banned a millennium ago, two young men must master their abilities as the hunt for a legendary horn ignites a desperate power struggle.

The Emperors Horn Cover 3 photo Cover Design 99 1_zpswzegaii5.jpeg

The Emperors Horn Cover 2 photo Cover Design 99 3_zps53ulwzb9.jpeg

The Emperors Horn Cover 1 photo Cover Design 99 2_zpsz3cpmkid.jpeg


message 2: by Jane (new)

Jane Jago | 888 comments The first. Just gut reaction...


message 3: by Dawn (new)

Dawn West (uptildawnbookblog) | 5 comments Personally, I like the first one best. The others have their own good points but the art of the first one drew me in the most.


message 4: by Philip (new)

Philip Dodd (philipdodd) | 32 comments I like the third one best. It looks mysterious, and draws me in, makes me want to know about the building on the rock, and the world it is part of.


message 5: by Amie (new)

Amie O'Brien | 280 comments I really like the design for the 3rd one best, but the first one is a close second and, after reading your blurb, a better match to your theme.

So take #1 for this book and request to possibly use #3 for a sequel. (I love the green color and spine!)


message 6: by Heidi (new)

Heidi Angell (heidiangell) | 241 comments I like VMs suggestion about the colorswap with 1 and 2 for the background.

I would keep the cover art the same on one, and just take the mudbrown background and incorporate the beautiful green and have them add the filigree on the spine from 3 to 1. Bit far, the actual art on 1 is more suited to your story and doesn't feel like they just used clip art. But that filigree just hit me in the 8 year old feels and zapped me back to the fantasy books I fell in love with as a child!


message 7: by Denae (new)

Denae Christine (denaechristine) | 167 comments I like the brightness of the second one, but wagons feel too Old West to me (think Little House on the Prairie), and not like medieval fantasy. I also like the wraparound tree.

However, the first is my favorite. (I decided this before reading the other answers).

I don't like the third one nearly as much.


I love Heidi's suggestion of using the spine from 3, the cover art from 1, and the green tree background from 2. How's that for an answer?


message 8: by Robert (new)

Robert Jones (rdjones) | 9 comments The first one by far. Theres a bloke called Derek Murphy (google him at creativindie) who has years of experience and blogs about cover design, anyway one key aspect he rams home is the need to grab an emotional reaction with the reader by having someone relatable on the cover... thus the first cover. Plus I love the writing.


message 9: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Jensen (kdragon) | 468 comments The 1st and 3rd one for me, with more of a preference for the first one. Cover one feels more unique and gives the reader a better idea of the story, while three - while pretty - feels a bit generic.


message 10: by Jordan (new)

Jordan Murray (goodreadscomjordan_rmurray) | 34 comments V.M. wrote: "1st - Sets up your central conflict nicely with striking art, though it does look a bit like a fighting game cover. Top Choice.

2nd - I like the background detailing on this cover alot, but the co..."


The color swap is a neat idea! They're each by different artists, but I was thinking of polishing up whichever I chose by seeing a few color and text alternatives. It would be neat to see a green/blue color option.

Some great suggestions here, I really appreciate the opinions, keep them coming!


message 11: by Jordan (last edited Jan 25, 2017 03:52PM) (new)

Jordan Murray (goodreadscomjordan_rmurray) | 34 comments Robert wrote: "The first one by far. Theres a bloke called Derek Murphy (google him at creativindie) who has years of experience and blogs about cover design, anyway one key aspect he rams home is the need to gra..."

It's funny you mention Derek Murphy, I've followed a lot of what he suggests about cover design and found it very helpful. I even did a few designs myself based on his tutorials - the learning curve was a bit too steep, but, it definitely makes me hopeful about teaching myself to eventually do my own covers... a great suggestion :)


message 12: by Nat (new)

Nat Kennedy | 317 comments They all look good, but I like the first one better. It's got characters, people I can/maybe relate to. It also shows some nifty magic stuff.

I like the third one the second best. It's got more of a dark/gothic look to it, maybe edging on dark fantasy. Though there is no show of magic to it. The extra flair for the third is nice, too, the curlicues and such.


message 13: by G.G. (last edited Jan 25, 2017 07:15PM) (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 2491 comments Three magnificent covers. I'd be happy to have either one of the three, so I can understand your dilemma.

At first, I was going to say 2 because it called to me, but when I look at it a bit more, it would be perfect for historical but there's nothing that really especially says fantasy.

The third....oh my oh my do I love the spine! I'd take that one just. for. the. spine! It caught my attention strongly enough that I hadn't even notice the image on the cover. VM is right, it does scream library. It does scream fantasy. It does scream to me too! hahaha

The first one is also nice. it also scream fantasy...but contrarily to the others, it's the one I like the less.

Now, I have two questions. Book two cover says $59.9? is that going to be the price or the designer wanted to show where the price would be?
Second question: it's a bit hard to read the blurb behind the book, but do I read this right:
The power I wield is more ancient than your blooded line.

Is he swearing? Or did you mean bloodline? Or am I missing the point entirely? Just curious.


message 14: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Jesinghaus (jessjesinghhaus) | 78 comments Cover 1 calls to me! But I dig the spine on cover 3. Tough decision to make, for sure. They're all nice covers.


message 15: by Annie (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) | 629 comments *points at #1*
*squeals*

Yeah, I dig the first cover XP


message 16: by Riley, Viking Extraordinaire (new)

Riley Amos Westbrook (sonshinegreene) | 1510 comments Mod
I personally am a fan of number 2, and this is my preferred genre to read.


message 17: by Jordan (new)

Jordan Murray (goodreadscomjordan_rmurray) | 34 comments V.M. wrote: "1st - Sets up your central conflict nicely with striking art, though it does look a bit like a fighting game cover. Top Choice.

2nd - I like the background detailing on this cover alot, but the co..."


I appreciate the feedback, and think the gold coloring is a great idea. I'll look into it. I love the way the characters are portrayed - a bit overdone, but (hopefully) grabs interest when you're just getting to know how magic works and who they are.

I can't deny the temptation of doing the third option with the gothic castle, though. It's a classic, safe design.


message 18: by Jordan (last edited Jan 26, 2017 05:54AM) (new)

Jordan Murray (goodreadscomjordan_rmurray) | 34 comments G.G. wrote: "Three magnificent covers. I'd be happy to have either one of the three, so I can understand your dilemma.

At first, I was going to say 2 because it called to me, but when I look at it a bit more, ..."


Thanks for the feedback!

I'm finding that the less people know about my story, the more they like the second option - not that that's a bad thing, the cover's there to generate interest in general! It does get a little cringe worthy with the wagon up close, but, when you're using stock photo it's not full of interesting wagon choices... which it too bad, really. The wagon in the story is pretty awesome.

The answers to your questions:

The pricing/isbn was just put in by the artist as filler. I'd already asked for multiple changes from each artist for the front cover designs, and felt it unfair to ask for more tweaks on smaller details unless I chose their design.

Ah, yes. I chose to use blooded line quite intentionally instead of bloodline (not swearing). Bloodline sounded a little too vampiric when I was writing it. The Lexicon is not insulting him, but it's meant to plant interest about her knowledge of both magic and the main character's family history.


message 19: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 2491 comments It makes sense. And it sure plant interest because I tried to understand the meaning behind it so it worked.

For the price, that's what I thought too...or at least was hoping :P

And if there is actually a wagon in your story, maybe then number two might be the one. I understand not feeling like asking more changes and as for the spine, one will only see it if they buy the print. Else...so yeah when I stop to think about it, it would be ridiculous to choose a book maybe not solely but in good part for the spine.

You my friend have a tough choice to make but in these circumstances, I'd have to say I'd LOVE to be in your shoes!

Good luck!


message 20: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Everson (authorthomaseverson) | 424 comments The first one. It's eye catching, intriguing, and it fits your tag line. That's a book I would pick up.


message 21: by Flavio (new)

Flavio Verna (slfae) | 10 comments I'll join the chorus of people calling for the first one.
At least to me, it seems the more unique of the three. Aside from the font, I don't think the second image looks much like the cover of a fantasy book.


message 22: by C.B. Matson (new)

C.B. Matson | 143 comments Another consideration - It looks like you've got the making of a series "Magic in the Imperium." Is this the first book, or do you have other covers out already? If it's your first (or maybe even not), be sure to look for a cover style that you can use on subsequent novels.

It looks like the second or third cover would serve you better from that perspective (I like the font in the third, but then I'm kinda '80s fantasy myself).

If you use the second cover, lose the wagon... even if it's an important story element, it won't draw in many readers. If ya gotta have a wagon, it should look all magical fantastic or steampunk medieval, or something... the wagon itself should be the image. JMHO


message 23: by Kim (new)

Kim Padgett-Clarke | 22 comments I like the imagery of the third with the coloured font of the second.


message 24: by Jordan (new)

Jordan Murray (goodreadscomjordan_rmurray) | 34 comments C.B. Matson wrote: "Another consideration - It looks like you've got the making of a series "Magic in the Imperium." Is this the first book, or do you have other covers out already? If it's your first (or maybe even n..."

Very good points. For the second cover, I'm not so attached to the wagon that it has to be there. I liked the conflict it introduced, but, I also don't want it to be noticed for being bad like an Oregon trail game gone wrong...

This is the first book in the series. I think the third cover by far would be easiest to duplicate in a similar style and that's important to consider.

Your points also touch upon a larger concern of mine. It would be ideal to keep working the same artist going forward. In terms of the second and third cover artists, I had to request several drastic changes to get the covers to where they are now. The earlier drafts were plain awful, and this could lead to future frustrations.

The cover artist for the first one captured my characters in a very authentic manner right away in my mind, but I'm getting feedback from other sources that the first cover is too dark and creepy, which makes me question my judgement about going too far in the "unique art" direction.


message 25: by M.L. (new)

M.L. | 1102 comments The second one, it suggests epic fantasy, there is a feel of movement, it's somewhat reminiscent of Robert Jordan. The wagon is a bit confusing; instead maybe a figure walking away, back to the viewer, and a cloak blowing, however the more I look at the wagon, I just *know* there is a driver, maybe a tinker. But as a fantasy reader, the depth of the second, green and gold, that's the one I'd be most drawn to.


message 26: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4284 comments Mod
I actually like the second better. I kind of want the cover on the wagon to be a few shades darker. It sticks out a bit much as it is. Also, a little movement in the horse would be nice. I like that there's a figure lurking off to the right that we don't see at the first glance.


message 27: by Allan (new)

Allan Walsh | 64 comments At first glance I thought cover 1. Then on review I thought cover 2. Cover 3 doesn't work for me at all. I agree with other comments about colour changes, the first is quite dull and monotone but the image is quite striking. Cover 2 is more colourful and does shout fantasy. I think you need to consider your audience though. I think the first would appeal to a young adult audience and the second to an older audience. But that's just my opinion.


message 28: by Tim (new)

Tim Scott (timscottphotog) | 4 comments Certainly the first. The other two make me think of the "Choose your own adventure" series of the 80s.


message 29: by G.G. (last edited Jan 29, 2017 12:31PM) (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 2491 comments To be honest, the last one reminds me of the Reader's Digest book club. You know, the company that would send you a book every month that you could keep and pay for it or return.

Each book had the same pattern, the same color and only the title and the image in front (usually in a square) would change. So while I love the third and I would probably buy the paperback just for the good memories, I don't think this would be the way to go.


message 30: by Angel (new)

Angel | 216 comments The second one.


message 31: by Tim (new)

Tim Scott (timscottphotog) | 4 comments Tim wrote: "Certainly the first. The other two make me think of the "Choose your own adventure" series of the 80s."

Yeah! I see that too now.


message 32: by Jack (new)

Jack Massa | 4 comments The second one works best for me. I must be an exception to the rule of preferring covers with "someone relatable" on the cover. Too often the people on covers don't look real to me and I find this a bit of a turnoff.
Anyway, would you mind sharing how you managed to do a contest and get 3 covers done in any kind of an affordable way?


message 33: by Ariel (new)

Ariel C (missarielc) | 6 comments The 2nd one is the most eye-catching.


message 34: by Lynzie (new)

Lynzie Allen | 27 comments Jordan wrote: "I'm publishing my first book in the next month or so, and find I'm stumbling on one of the last and most important decisions - my book's cover design.

When I tried designing my own I wasn't happy ..."


I LOVE the first one but the third is my second choice, particularly because of the spine! They're all gorgeous, though!!


message 35: by Jordan (new)

Jordan Murray (goodreadscomjordan_rmurray) | 34 comments Jack wrote: "The second one works best for me. I must be an exception to the rule of preferring covers with "someone relatable" on the cover. Too often the people on covers don't look real to me and I find this..."

Hi Jack! I started typing a response and then realized that it would include sharing services for companies that would likely violate posting guidelines. It's a completely valid question.

Instead, I'm going to put together a long overdue blog post on my author website on the topic. That way, I'll be able to share who I looked at using, and what the different price points were for anyone curious. I'll let you know when it's up!


message 36: by Jack (new)

Jack Massa | 4 comments Thanks, Jordan. I've sent an add friend request to you on Goodreads and also followed your FaceBook page.

- Jack


message 37: by D. (new)

D. Thrush | 180 comments The picture is too dark on the first one. Love the gold lettering on the second but don't like the wagon. The third is too dark but I love the filigree. For a series, I think I'd go with #3 with gold lettering and a different picture in the box. Maybe put a wagon there but not the one in #2. Then you can just change the picture in the box for each book in the series.


message 38: by Jordan (new)

Jordan Murray (goodreadscomjordan_rmurray) | 34 comments Jack wrote: "Thanks, Jordan. I've sent an add friend request to you on Goodreads and also followed your FaceBook page.

- Jack"


Whew, that took longer than I thought! One post would have been way too much information all at once. I'm working on several, all on book cover design.

The first is up already - more of a getting started and general research ideas for book cover design. The second goes live tomorrow, all on pricing and budget, with which sites and companies I looked at and chose.

http://jordanrmurray.com/choosing-a-b...

Cheers, everyone!


message 39: by Jordan (new)

Jordan Murray (goodreadscomjordan_rmurray) | 34 comments I took a lot of your comments to heart, and had the artist make changes to the coloring and spine of the first option.

Here's the final result:

Final Paperback Cover Emperor's Horn photo the_emperors_horn_spine_pattern_ver_01_preview_zpspr2apwie.jpg


message 40: by Petra (new)

Petra Jacob | 42 comments That looks great! Classic, but intriguing.


message 41: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Everson (authorthomaseverson) | 424 comments I'm a fan of this latest incarnation, more than the original tan and brown version.


message 42: by Annie (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) | 629 comments I'm still a fan of #1 but this one is pretty stellar as well! Oh, annnnd I dig the spine a lot ^_~


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