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message 1: by N.R.B. (new)

N.R.B. Marcum | 4 comments This is the book cover for the first part of my two-part book 'the Earthen Pioneer.' The book is the first of a series I hope to eventually publish. What I'm most worried about with the cover is it looking too amateur or noticeably and painfully self-published. Though it is supposed to look somewhat indie.

message 2: by Harald, The Swimmer (new)

Harald | 413 comments Mod
HI N.M.! Am traveling so this is a bit choppy...

Yeah, "noticeably self-pubbed." Ideas:

* One quick fix: main title MUST be bigger/bolder. Be bold! Massive even. Also for thumbnail readability.

* Horse silhouette too stark, too simplistic. Tint it back? Skip it?

* Can't see your name. More contrast.

All for now... Keep working on it!

message 3: by Sydney (new)

Sydney Blackburn | 5 comments The title makes it appear that this is part one of The Earthen Pioneer, which is book one of the Mooi Series? So the next book will be part two of The Earthen Pioneer, but still book one of the Mooi Series? It's not entirely clear.
Harald is right, you've got a lot of space you're not using. And as it stands only the text is saying "sci-fi" the rest could be anything--a running (dog?) in a valley doesn't really say sci-fi, which usually involves technology of some kind.
It's hard to make suggestions without knowing what kind of story you're telling, but right now, I'd pass it by for a more informative/exciting cover.

message 4: by Paul (new)

Paul | 76 comments N.M. –

Intriguing cover, and good comments from Harald and Sydney. I'd like to build on those thoughts. As designers, we're looking for more information about the book to understand the cover, but I'll try to approach this as a potential reader might, judging the book by its cover, so to speak.

The color is jarring. Catchy, but also unnatural. Radioactive. Not good or bad, but if it isn't consistent with the mood of your story, it might be disappointing to the reader. I'm going to disagree with Harald, in that I like the stark contrast of the white horse/dog, as it fits into this surreal landscape you've created. The trees read as "Earth," but the sky doesn't. Makes me wonder, what happened…

But the animal silhouette is odd. The legs don't seem correct for a running animal, dog or horse. And the one for touching the baseline of the image is confusing—you have established perspective with the image, then broken it here with this alignment. I'd suggest moving it up. Or down, breaking the line and calling attention to itself, if it is particularly important to the story.

Positioning is also something to consider. It is centered (stability) running left (generally to the past, to home, to a known outcome). Moving it off center creates even more energy, generally with more space "in front" of it for a comfortable outlook (or less space in front of it for an uncertain, tenuous future).

As a technical note, if you are doing a printed cover this is going to change—a lot—when converted to CMYK for printing; that fluorescent green at the top and the yellowish-cyan in the middle are going to shift darker. If this is your plan, to have a printed book and an eBook, and you want the covers to match, you should take this into account.

And gradients… aren't so popular right now. Solid blocks of color and gradients can be a sign of an amateurish cover, as these are "easy" way to solve a color transition problems. I think you can get away with it, given that it is a sky scene and skies do show gradients, but since the rest of your image is block colors, it feels a bit like a cheat. Have you considered adding a texture layer? You could gradient the opacity of the texture to create a similar effect, but have a more analog feel.

As for the text, I agree the title need to be larger. It is an odd font, in my mind with a weird mix of spacy/sci-fi plus hand-cut construction paper cut-outs. The "N" especially bothers me. In your typesetting of the main title, the "A" is problematic, as it is the only letter that isn't a box… letterspacing the whole thing might reduce that inconsistency.

However, I'm going to recommend that you use at least try a different font for the series title, the "Part 1," and perhaps even your byline. It would help the title pop out more, and make your hierarchy more clear. This could tie into the chapter titles or other embellishments in the interior of the book.

Next, this whole "part 1 of 2, in a series" thing. It is confusing. I'm assuming the little "1" at the top is because this is the first in the series. As in a serial, where the order is important. Will part 2 be second in the series? Do they really need to be part 1 and part 2, then? Couldn't they just be the first two titles in the series?

If you're really invested in this 2-part thing, I'd suggest dropping the number from the series description. I mean, I like how you typeset it, but having two #1's on the cover is unnecessarily confusing.

Now, speaking of series, have you thought about your other covers? It is nice if there is a thread that will tie them all together. It could be radioactive colors, white silhouetted animals, … something so that when you set #2, #3, #4, … all together they are different, but they look like they go together. Even creating preliminary sketches of those covers might help.

So, again, I think you have something going here. With a little more refinement I think you can really make this cover sing. Keep us posted with your progress, and if you'd like to add a blurb, it would be great to hear more about your content!


message 5: by N.R.B. (new)

N.R.B. Marcum | 4 comments Sydney wrote: "The title makes it appear that this is part one of The Earthen Pioneer, which is book one of the Mooi Series? So the next book will be part two of The Earthen Pioneer, but still book one of the Moo..."

Hi, Sydney! Thank you for looking at my cover!

I think I'm gonna drop the 'part 1' entirely and for the second part of the book replace 'part 2' with a secondary title like 'into mooi' or 'adventures in mooi.'

Also I think I've made a small mistake calling the book sci-fi. Its generally more sci-fantasy. This is why I originally skipped the tech or alien feel, the book isn't like that. The scenery and the slightly skewed feeling of earth works better. However, there are technically 'aliens' within the book (More technically, alternate-dimension humanoids of a sort?) But the book deals more with the exploration of their culture and their worlds not really the topic of the aliens in general.

I could do a scene from one of their worlds, but this half of The Earthen Pioneer its largely on Earth. The second part is almost entirely in the other world known as 'Mooi' and the cover will portray as much.

In light of that, perhaps adding alien animals into the setting would give it a bit more of the atmosphere it requires? That would also fill up negative space. I could even swap the horse for a horse-like alien creature from the book? The only problem with that is the minimalistic vector art I'm using limits the information you can put into a silhouette, it might just look confusing.

Thank you again for talking with me!

message 6: by N.R.B. (new)

N.R.B. Marcum | 4 comments Paul wrote: "N.M. –

Intriguing cover, and good comments from Harald and Sydney. I'd like to build on those thoughts. As designers, we're looking for more information about the book to understand the cover, but..."

Hey, Paul!

So your comment about the colors brings up a problem I've considered before. The colors you describe aren't the colors I used, its probably a difference of screen display settings. Now I can't just blame the computers, its likely also my palette. The colors I picked skim the border between eye-catching bright and distracting neon. I have a softer version of this cover with the green tinted blue, might be a better option (If you go to the link to my cover, the second version is just to the right)

I can block the A in the title and change the N around so it fits in with the others more. I think you see the title as cut-out because of how white and simplistic it is. I could try drop shadowing it or adding a raised border inside the letters? but I feel like the one-dimensional aspect works with the flatness of the vector art. I agree with the change of font for the series title entirely and I might even extend that to the author name. Part 1 will be dropped entirely.

The series covers will all tie together! I intend to use vector art for each one. They will all be an important scene from the book (as this one is) and I also expect to have a white figure from every book as the cover's focal point. I have concepts of what I will use for all of those aspects, and very rough drafts of some of the covers. But I'm not sure if I'll make the other covers now or when I publish those books. There's going to be a large time gap between The Earthen Pioneer and the rest of the series so I'm torn.

Thank you so much for answering me!

message 7: by Sydney (new)

Sydney Blackburn | 5 comments I would say you need an entirely new font, then. It sounds like a portal fantasy (where the alternate world is accessed by/leaking into our world through a portal, regardless of what word you may actually use?)

I think the fact that I saw a dog and Harald and Paul both saw a horse might actually work in your favour--it's an animal of *some* kind and might just BE an alien, but Paul makes good points about placement/perspective.

Maybe something like Dream Orphans from Dafont?

Not too "fantasy" curly, but not "alien tech" science-y, either.

(Be careful at Dafont--IT'S A TRAP! also be sure your search results are free for commercial use or that you can afford the license fee for the creator!)

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