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Cover Reviews > Add Blood and Print, Take 2

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message 1: by John (new)

John (johnbyrnebarry) | 7 comments wasted

First off, thanks to the helpful feedback on my first try at redesigning this book cover. I'm starting a new thread, now that I've done a more radical makeover.

I have decades of experience as a designer and over the past few years have designed about twenty book covers. But sometimes I get it wrong.

Case in point: the cover of my “green noir” mystery, Wasted, a murder mystery set in the Berkeley recycling world.

The smartest feedback on the Wasted book cover came from Joel Friedlander — though it was clean and well-designed, it did not tell the reader that it was a mystery. It looked more like a nonfiction manual on recycling. Ouch.

So I thought, what if I added blood? Would that make it better? I tried it and posted the new cover here and on GoodReads and got a lot of good feedback. Well, it wasn’t that good. The blood by itself didn’t make it better. So I tried a much more radical redesign, which you can see here, along with the blood drops version and the original.

What do you think?

message 2: by John (new)

John (johnbyrnebarry) | 7 comments Please note, the cover is not as bright green as it looks above.

Here's a more accurate look —

message 3: by Paul (new)

Paul | 66 comments John -

Although… that toxic green does get your attention!

Color aside, I feel the new version is a step backwards. I want to like this, because I think you’ve taken the suggestions in the previous thread to heart. But somehow the design is more unsettling than the scene you’re depicting.

You’ve lost the bold simplicity of the original, and instead provided us with a complex scene. And I suspect you realized this, by trying to contain the scene in a “rip,” almost keyhole sort of view, and left the text in a nearly solid color field.

The bloody hand prints are a nod to the murder, but as a child’s fingerpsint style presentation, they lose the menace they ought to have. And perhaps that is the key… a lack of menace, despite the broken window, back alley scene, it somehow still feels… happy.

Your text alignment, centered but off-center is distracting as well. Perhaps this was a mistake in shifting the text all left? You didn’t have that in the final post of your previous thread. A post I turned to, because you provided a larger view of the cover—proving to me that the thumbnail size version of such a complex scene leaves the eye wandering, wondering what to fix onto.

I can’t tell what is supposed to be pictured in the texture on the green field, but visually this is a positive add. Unfortunately, here it is yet another layer to distract the eye.

My synopsis: more moody menace, more grit, less visual complexity.


message 4: by John (new)

John (johnbyrnebarry) | 7 comments Thanks Paul, this is helpful, though of course I would have preferred you saying it was brilliant.

Though I enjoyed doing it, creating the layers of graffiti and distress, I know what you mean by visual complexity. Too much.

I very much liked my original cover for its simplicity, until it was pointed out to me that I was promising a recycling manual, not a gritty mystery. Back to the drawing board?

message 5: by Paul (new)

Paul | 66 comments John –

While I have yet to see a cover that couldn't be criticized for something (my own included!); and while I fully admit that books with "bad" covers can win awards and still end up quite successful revenue generators; in this case I would say, yes, back to the drawing board.

But this version is a worthwhile step. Keep pushing it. Just ask yourself, what is the essence of what you are trying to convey here? If you could pick just one message to convey visually with the cover, what would it be? And build from that.


message 6: by Harald, The Swimmer (new)

Harald | 378 comments Mod
Hi John! Agreeing with Paul here. IMHO, you need to simplify the design. That whole torn diagonal scene with the broken windows, et al. is just too much. Here’s an idea: why not bring out the barrel/drum more, making that the main background image? Then maybe take the distressed version of the recycling logo and put it on the drum?

And while we’re at it, I think the main title is too small. I would either condense the width or extend the height, or both. Make the main title dominate. The entire cover should communicate a simple theme at a glance.

Hope this helps.

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