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message 1: by Eric (new)

Eric Fisher | 6 comments Hi hope it is Ok to do it this way. I am troubleshooting my book and sometimes what I think is good is not what others think is good. Your insights would be greatly appreciated. I've put a link to my cover and back page on my website. Thanks.
https://the-little-black-book-of-euro...


message 2: by Paul (new)

Paul | 76 comments Eric –

Sorry to be blunt, but this cover isn't really doing anything for me. At least nothing good.

To start, I'm pretty sure you have some trademark and copyright violations in the pictures you're using. I'm not a lawyer, but I'm positive you can't use celebrity pictures for endorsements without permission. And on a cover, it is certainly considered an endorsement.

That aside, you have some real typographic problems here. Lack of hierarchy on the cover with line spacing problems; and poor text density and an obvious runt and on the back.

Handwriting is tricky to use well. As it is, that cover font conveys a real amateurish sense. One dead giveaway is identical repeated characters—a good handwriting font mixes things up a bit. I get that you are trying to keep things casual, and it might work for chapters or headers if there are some alternates characters you can access, but for a cover… you might be better off hand lettering it yourself (or hire a letterer), if handwriting is really what you want.

But handwriting doesn't really instill your reader with a sense of confidence. It is too casual, typically. And if I understand your premise here, you want this book to act as an authority, a reference, something that a reader for trust turning to. Sorry, but handwriting isn't any of that.

Then, aside of the trademark issues, what is your goal with the six circles? To me, it gives it a social media vibe, like some sort of celebrity gossip. And I don't quite see how it ties into the subject.

Now, the back cover image, the classic image of Audrey Hepburn is really strong (which is why you probably cannot use it). But it has a stylistic sense that can really tell a story, and you can use the idea.

For a front cover that really pops, perhaps you could find a similar stock photo, apply a similar high contrast treatment, and use that as a cover?

Depending on the image, if you are able to integrate the type with the image, intertwine the two as it were, you might just get to something really catchy.

Sorry to hit you so hard with the criticism in this critique, but I think you have a lot of room for improvement here. And at least this gives you some food for thought.

Paul


message 3: by Harald, The Swimmer (new)

Harald | 398 comments Mod
Hi Eric! Thanks for sharing your cover with us. A few points to add to Paul's...

1. The spread-apart title is not working like that. There is no real reason to have all that extra space between the three lines. I keep staring at the two black, empty holes in the middle of the cover. Bring them together and then adjust the other elements accordingly.

2. Now regarding those circle photos: because this is a book about European stereotypes for dating and flirting and what-not... why these six? Do these cover the stereotypes the best? If so, and if this is a gender-neutral book, why are there 5 women/girls and 1 guy (who looks like Mr. Bean to me)?

3. Then there's the image-rights issue Paul mentions. You really do have to be careful about this. You must have the rights (via license) for these images, or they must be in the public domain. And that really goes for the Audrey Hepburn one. I happen to know one of the best celebrity photographers who shot Ms. Hepburn, and if that's one of his images and he finds out, you're in trouble.

Hope that's helpful. Feel free to come back with any revisions for further comment.

Harald


message 4: by Eric (new)

Eric Fisher | 6 comments Paul wrote: "But handwriting doesn't really instill your reader with a sense of confidence. It is too casual, typically. And if I understand your premise here, you want this book to act as an authority, a reference, something that a reader for trust turning to. Sorry, but handwriting isn't any of that.

....what is your goal with the six circles? To me, it gives it a social media vibe, like some sort of celebrity gossip. And I don't quite see how it ties into the subject. '..."


Hi Paul, thanks for taking the trouble to give me an appraisal. I had worries and appreciate your honesty. It concerns me that you don't get it. My main market is for guys who are interested in meeting European women and that I am having to explain suggests I am giving mixed messages. It is not meant to be authoritative. Dry humour, yes. Useful in conversation, yes. I wanted to distance myself from the academic tomes on the subject. How much of the typographic concerns affect the guy on the street ? Anyway looks like I need a rethink. Gonna have a look at a different font.... Best E


message 5: by Eric (last edited Jan 23, 2020 08:37AM) (new)

Eric Fisher | 6 comments Harald wrote: "2. Now regarding those circle photos: because this is a book about European stereotypes for dating and flirting and what-not... why these six? Do these cover the stereotypes the best? If so, and if this is a gender-neutral book, why are there 5 women/girls and 1 guy (who looks like Mr. Bean to me)?
"


Dear Herald, thanks a lot for taking the trouble to do an appraisal.
At the moment the book is going out in the Uk, may expand it later on. I'm beginning to get a feeling in my interactions with American people (no disrespect intended) that there is a quite wide difference between English and American people in their attention to details and the significance attached to this. I am having a big rethink in any event. The 'circles' are just fairly well known/ attractive European women. Women that a guy, (or someone of alternate gender interested in women), might like to approach. The market is per-dominantly men and possibly a few lesbians+others, so they are interested in women, not men hence the bias. I chose Rowan Atkinson here as Johnny English in the front from the James Bond parody. This mocks English alpha male stereotypes, it is humorous and representative of the mood of the book, so I thought I was killing two birds with one stone. From your comments none of this seems to be coming across.

Regarding copyright I tried to do public domain but for some pics from Pinterest it's unclear. Regarding Audrey Hepburn thought it was done before 1968 and cp not renewed. Anyway need to take more time on this matter.

Thanks again Herald for your honesty. Best Eric.


message 6: by Harald, The Swimmer (last edited Jan 23, 2020 08:45AM) (new)

Harald | 398 comments Mod
Eric wrote: "...I'm beginning to get a feeling in my interactions with American people (no disrespect intended) that there is a quite wide difference between English and American people in their attention to details and the significance attached to this...."

No worries, mate. That attention to detail is why we kicked your butts in 1776 ;-))).

Since I seem to be a bit clueless about what this book's about, here's a thought: What if you were to add a subtitle? Something cute or a bit humorous. Like: : For flirting, dating, 'stacking', or just fun
This would then show up on the Amazon page after the colon (where your name is now). Might help you zero in on your audience more? (plus will add more keywords upfront)

Just a thought.


message 7: by Paul (new)

Paul | 76 comments Eric –

Harald makes a good point about the subtitle—it can help with the search algorithms, too.

As for the guy (or gal) on the street… to be sure, they don't think about the cover in the definite detail that we do as designers. But more likely they would say, "I don't know… something just doesn't feel right…"

But I can assure you that details do matter, even to folks in the UK, and even if they are only subconsciously aware. The gestalt rules of visual processing—the basis of typographic conventions, visual hierarchy, apply almost universally to all contemporary cultures, even if the specific cultural references (colors, people, perhaps shapes) might be different.

Which is a bit ironic to explain, since it sounds like the underlying pretext of your book is that subtlety matters ;-)

But take it all with a grain of salt. The cover is an important part of your marketing, but it is indeed only part of your marketing. And part of good design is meeting your readers at their level.

But the copyright and trademark stuff is a legitimate concern. A public domain photo may satisfy copyright law, but still violate one of the facets of trademark law. For example, if you took a photo yourself of Rowan Atkinson, you would own the copyright, but it still doesn't mean you can use it to promote your product. I expect you'd get the British equivalent of a "cease and desist" letter from his attorney if they ever spotted it. And a cut of the sales, if the book takes off.

I didn't do a lot of research on the Breakfast at Tiffany's picture—but I didn't need to: https://www.iplawwatch.com/2015/03/do.... Proceed with caution.

Paul


message 8: by Eric (new)

Eric Fisher | 6 comments Thanks so much Herald for your good spirited response and the history lesson :) That's a great tip and I'm going to try it. Best regards from across the pond.


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Hi Eric
How do I put this bluntly if I saw your book in a bookstore I would immediately turn around and start looking for other things. I understand that it might be a very simple very straightforward book but a cover still needs to able to catch the readers attention for example my book only has a small battle scene in it yet that is the cover of my book. You need to really draw in their attention otherwise it could’ve been the best book ever but they just will never read it because it looks so damn boring!


message 10: by Paul (new)

Paul | 76 comments Bell wrote: "Hi Eric
How do I put this bluntly if I saw your book in a bookstore I would immediately turn around and start looking for other things..."


Bell, I don't disagree. But do you have any constructive suggestions? What would you do with this cover if you were (re)designing it?

Paul


message 11: by Harald, The Swimmer (new)

Harald | 398 comments Mod
Bell wrote: "Hi Eric
How do I put this bluntly if I saw your book in a bookstore I would immediately turn around and start looking for other things. I understand that it might be a very simple very straightfor..."


BELL: Dittoing Paul, please keep this rule in mind on this group: "3. Be nice; be helpful and constructive in your cover design critiques and feedback. Don't shame other authors."
Thanks.
— Harald, the Moderator


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

Ok understood. I’m a very straight forward say it as it is type of person but I understand that that could be offensive


message 13: by Paul (new)

Paul | 76 comments Not just offensive, Bell. It's not helpful. The goal of a good critique is to improve the result.


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