Support for Indie Authors discussion

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message 1: by Harald (last edited Jun 29, 2015 09:18PM) (new)

Harald | 120 comments

Show us your draft or final cover designs, and we'll share our feedback on what's working and what's not. May include some cover tips and best practices along the way. Let's talk—and see—book covers!

Some Rules:
1. Insert or link to your working or final cover designs (including pre-made covers) for comments/feedback by using basic HTML tags (sorry, there is no direct upload function here). See tips on how to do this below. Or ask.
2. If inserting, don't post HUGE cover images; make them a reasonable size. Try to keep them under 600 pixels on the Height (Tall) side (x300-350 is a good target size). Or just use the "height" parameter as shown below.
3. Don't post "bad examples" that you don't own (without permission). That is, don't shame other authors. Positive examples are OK.
4. Be nice; be helpful and constructive in your cover design critiques and feedback.
5. If you're a designer who offers cover design as a service, don't hit people over the head with soliciting. Offer comments and just include your business name and/or link in a signature.

To insert an online cover image here, create or copy the image's URL location, especially this part, which is the HTML "IMG" tag*:

*a good reference for HTML tags: http://www.w3schools.com/tags/tag_img...

OR... you can just LINK TO an off-group image or book page with the image.

*****6/30/15 NOTE: Harald has started his own Book Cover Reviews group if you want to go into more depth on this subject.*****


message 2: by Riley, Viking Extraordinaire (new)

Riley Amos Westbrook (sonshinegreene) | 1510 comments Mod
Thanks for offering Harald!
We have a post like this buried somewhere, this just seemed more official guys.


message 3: by Harald (last edited May 02, 2015 08:33PM) (new)

Harald | 120 comments No problem, Riley! Glad to help out. DIY cover design is happening a lot so let's discuss and show it.

I might drop in a couple of design tricks and tips along the way.

BTW, if people are confused about the HTML code for INSERTING their covers images here, see instructs above.


message 4: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Durben (jessicadurben) | 10 comments I believe mine might be too erotic, but really looking forward to seeing others covers and learning from their examples.


message 5: by Harald (new)

Harald | 120 comments Hi Jessica! Am getting clarification on this from the Group Moderators. Hang tight and let's see what shakes out about this, OK?


message 6: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) Go ahead and link to covers if you aren't sure.


message 7: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) It should go without saying to mention why you're posting a link and not an image, but just in case, please note the reason the cover is linked is due to content. :)


message 8: by Charles (new)

Charles Hash | 1054 comments we have code 8008135


message 9: by Riley, Viking Extraordinaire (new)

Riley Amos Westbrook (sonshinegreene) | 1510 comments Mod
Charles put the walkie talkie down, you didn't take the badge that comes with it.


message 10: by Charles (new)

Charles Hash | 1054 comments I'm just waiting for someone to put up a cover. :D And this is my Walkie Talkie. Finders Keepers!


message 11: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments OK, I'll play: 3 draft covers, 2 concepts. The thumbnails link to a larger image. (BTW: Ignore the tag line -- it's an in-joke serving as a placeholder.)

Sharpen the knives! ;-)




message 12: by Harald (last edited May 02, 2015 06:21AM) (new)

Harald | 120 comments OK... our first player!


Concept 1 (left and middle): Good emphasis and contrast on main title. My pick. Author names pretty small. Tougher when you have two of them; maybe stack and make 'em bigger?
Concept 2 (right): Title too small for me, and not enough contrast with background image. See especially the Blues on the edges. And authors names even smaller.
Inset Photos: Don't work quite as well as bleed images for me, but that's a personal thing. Insets read more like non-fiction (especially the B&W one).
If I had to... pick one, I'd pick Far Left and make a few changes.

But pretty good!

(Q: Can you tell people what software app you're using for your covers?)


message 13: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Harald wrote: "OK... our first player!

Concept 1 (left and middle): Good emphasis and contrast on main title. My pick. Author names pretty small. Tougher when you have two of them; maybe stack and make 'em bigg..."


First, we use Photoshop CS2.

Thanks for the comments! Yes, I included the B&W in the spirit of completeness. It does have a non-fiction feel to it (those are Chindits, BTW), and while plausibly related to the story, a bit out of place since this a sci-fi novel.

The far-left cover conforms to our other covers: Asylum (Loralynn Kennakris #3) by Owen R. O'Neill

The full-bleed cover on the far right is a departure. I agree about the contrast and the size of the title on that one. (It's also easier to adjust author names on that one.)

Personally, I think I lean towards the far-right cover, with a few changes (never have been sure about the blue), breaking out of the inset paradigm for this book. But since what almost everyone will see first is a thumbnail, the far-left cover might pop a some better at small size.

Thanks! And eager to hear any other comments.


message 14: by Harald (last edited May 02, 2015 07:29AM) (new)

Harald | 120 comments OWEN: Yep, agree with your thinking. If you go with Far Right, really need to make the main title pop more like the Left ones. Change colors/tones and/or darken the BG image.

BTW, are you kerning your titles? With CS2 you can. Personally, I'd kern the final "... 'S" a bit; kinda hanging out there.

FYI: I'll post a quick tut on Kerning if people are interested.


message 15: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Durben (jessicadurben) | 10 comments Oh I did it lol. No judging, but when I tried to preview it just posted. Fat thumbs! The bane of my existence.


message 16: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Harald wrote: "OWEN: ... BTW, are you kerning your titles? With CS2 you can. Personally, I'd kern the final "... 'S" a bit; kinda hanging out there."

We do, but not on drafts. Once we've settled on an cover and gotten the big issues the way we like them, we do the final tweaks and clean up the little stuff. (Lots of crummy looking apostrophes and such out there.)


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

I also favor the left hand cover. I think it would be good to stack the author names, so they could be bigger, and I, as well, was going to bring up the issue of kerning. Draft or not, it hurts my eyes! :-)


message 18: by Harald (new)

Harald | 120 comments Hey, Jim... good to see you here!
FYI: Jim does editing, beta reading, and good feedbacking.


message 19: by Harald (new)

Harald | 120 comments "Kerning? What's that?"
It's the space between letter pairs in a word. It's NOT "tracking," which is the overall spacing of a word's letters. Kerning is more focused. And it can make or break a pro-looking main title on a book cover. At least in my opinion! :)

Here's an example I just created to show you (below). The top word is NOT kerned; just how it came out from typing it. The bottom one has been custom-kerned by me by eye.



How do you kern letters? Well, I use good-old Photoshop and just go letter-by-letter, looking and adjusting until I like it. Other graphic software can do it, too, just not sure which.

Share your Kerning experiences here! Or questions. Or just put up a cover and let's take a look.

P.S. Here's a cool site that let's you practice your kerning skills:
http://type.method.ac/#
(FYI: I always score over 90/100. How about you? :)


message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

I do most of my graphic work in CorelDRAW 15, which is the Windows equivalent of Adobe Illustrator. Great controls for kerning and for making custom alterations in lettering. Can save to Adobe Illustrator, or turn into a .jpg or .tif.


message 21: by Riley, Viking Extraordinaire (new)

Riley Amos Westbrook (sonshinegreene) | 1510 comments Mod
Owen wrote: "OK, I'll play: 3 draft covers, 2 concepts. The thumbnails link to a larger image. (BTW: Ignore the tag line -- it's an in-joke serving as a placeholder.)

Sharpen the knives! ;-)
"


I personally like the far right one, with a change to the coloring of the letters. Feels like she's either getting ready to pull you in, or leap out and murder you.


message 22: by Elisabeth (new)

Elisabeth Zguta (zguta) | 20 comments I use a freeware GIMP and it also allows kerning


message 24: by Jessica (new)


message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

Jessica, two questions... Why is the image of the moon so distorted? And why did you put a solid band across behind the title? I think this would all work much better if the moon was more natural, and the upper and lower image areas blended or diffused into each other.

Jim Dodds
its-your-story.weebly.com
Editor/Designer


message 26: by Harald (new)

Harald | 120 comments Hi Jessica - thanks for sharing your cover. Sounds like an interesting story. Question: what genre would you put this in? Is it sort of Fantasy Romance? Just trying to get my bearings on it.

A few things jump out at me (looking at the enlarged image on your GR book detail page):
1. There seem to be a lot of elements competing with each other for my attention (title, top photo, that squished moon, the dog/wolf, subtitle, your name). Maybe reduce or tone down some?
2. I think the moon competes too much with the main title. Especially being so close to it. Can you tone the moon down (or move it?).
3. The main title is hard to read. I'm thinking it's because you're using a Serif font in All Caps with very close spacing. Maybe either switch to ULC (upper & lower case) OR, change to a Sans Serif font. Also, I think there could be more space between letters; they all sort of run together when the cover is small.

It's not a bad cover at all; just needs some tweaking IMHO. What do you think?


message 27: by Riley, Viking Extraordinaire (new)

Riley Amos Westbrook (sonshinegreene) | 1510 comments Mod
I think you pretty much nailed it there Harrald. I was thinking similar.


message 28: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Durben (jessicadurben) | 10 comments It's a paranormal romance. I will definitely play around with it some more. Change the font and maybe the bottom image see what I can come up with. Thanks for your inputs.


message 29: by C.B., Beach Body Moderator (new)

C.B. Archer | 1090 comments Mod
Q: What is Keming?
A: Kerning by someone that doens't know how!


message 30: by C.B., Beach Body Moderator (new)

C.B. Archer | 1090 comments Mod
Hello Owen,
I quite like the picture on the blue writing cover, and how the cloud isn't stopped by the black bar. but the text on the others stands out far better.
you really don't need the subtext readabile in the thumbnail (but even then I still can)

I'd suggest taking the gold text and putting it on the last one. I don't think the b+w is as fetching! still, great job.


message 31: by C.B., Beach Body Moderator (new)

C.B. Archer | 1090 comments Mod
Jessica. I really hate to say it, but wolves on book covers is a very over used trope. So much in fact that wolfie is the mascot on the Lousy Book Covers site.
I really suggest removing any wolves on any covers ever. :D

You would be better serviced with just one image and no bar across the middle. I will suggest just removing the bottom completely as it features some 'obvious to graphic designers like me' cut and paste issues. one image would be more powerful anyways!

Good luck. I look forward to seeing what you can come up with! I love covers!


message 32: by C.B., Beach Body Moderator (new)

C.B. Archer | 1090 comments Mod
Sorry, need to add one more thing Jessica (and everyone else ever).

never use red text on a black background. (or black on red) it has such terrible contrast and some people with certain colour blindness can barely see it, if at all.
treat red like black for the purposes of contrast!


message 33: by Harald (last edited May 02, 2015 11:12PM) (new)

Harald | 120 comments CB wrote: "Sorry, need to add one more thing Jessica (and everyone else ever)... never use red text on a black background. (or black on red) it has such terrible contrast and some people with certain colour blindness can barely see it, if at all.
treat red like black for the purposes of contrast!"


Good point, CB. Especially when it's rendered as a B&W cover.


message 34: by Sherri (new)

Sherri Bobzien | 11 comments Owen wrote: "OK, I'll play: 3 draft covers, 2 concepts. The thumbnails link to a larger image. (BTW: Ignore the tag line -- it's an in-joke serving as a placeholder.)

Sharpen the knives! ;-)

I really like the 3rd one, the composition is nice, the tilt of the woman's head, the size of the title font. Nice job.~sherri





"



message 35: by Harald (new)

Harald | 120 comments Tracking Trends

We've been talking and Kerning and Tracking above. Here's a good visual showing the difference:


Tracking styles come and go in waves and trends. A current one is super-wide tracking. Just take a look at the three mega-best sellers below. And you can see that wide tracking can work with both Sans Serif and Serif fonts. And All Caps. In fact, I think the only way to really do Serif All Caps is with wide tracking.







The key to this: short words. The fewer, the better.

What do you think?


message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

Nice demo, Harald!


message 37: by Riley, Viking Extraordinaire (new)

Riley Amos Westbrook (sonshinegreene) | 1510 comments Mod
Trippy....


message 38: by A.E. (new)

A.E. Hellstorm (aehellstorm) | 196 comments This is so great, Harald. What an awesome initiative. Not really sure if I get those html-codes, so I hope this link is good enough.

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebo...


message 39: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Thanks for the feedback, everyone!


message 40: by C.B. Matson (last edited May 04, 2015 07:07AM) (new)

C.B. Matson | 143 comments Okay, I’m game…




My own reaction:

1) the title font is suckish and I know the color is wrong (reinforced by CB's excellent advice). I'm thinking block letters okay, no 3d or shadow, maybe a goldenrod or straw color.

2) too busy... blip the eyes in the sky ('though I kinda like 'em) or keep the bowmen (foreground) and blip fleeing victims, or keep bowmen and lightning strike and blip the rest.

3) first glance is usually top row and left edge so if I blip the fleeing victims, I will probably move the author name to the left.

Other criticism (constructive or de-constructive) will be greatly appreciated.


message 41: by Harald (last edited May 04, 2015 10:01AM) (new)

Harald | 120 comments [for message #38]
Hey, A.E., thanks for playing. (cover: "in the hands of the unknown")
— I like the angle shape matching the title stacking. In fact, all the shapes are kinda cool.
— the biggest problem is the darkness and low contrast of the whole cover. At small size (which is the one most people will see), the title gets completely lost. And your author name is invisible. You gotta bump up that title contrast next time around.
— With mysteries and such, I'm not a big fan of realistic photos. Personally, I'd abstract the photo a little with blurs or other methods. Again, that a personal thing with me.

Hope that helps!

P.S. On those HTML codes, if you can put a cover on your website (you do have an author website, right? Gotta have one :), then it's just one line of code here (the IMG line).


message 42: by Linda (new)

Linda Dobinson (baspoet) | 14 comments Hi
I've been having second thoughts about my cover, I don't know if to alter or scrap altogether. Encounter by Linda Dobinson


message 43: by C.B. Matson (last edited May 04, 2015 08:48AM) (new)

C.B. Matson | 143 comments A.E., I'm pretty new to html myself, so this is fun to learn. Use Harald's code as he presented it:

(less-than symbol<)img src="your image url"(greater-than symbol>). Forget height for right now, and be sure you don't have a space after < or before >.

Then go to your on-line image and right-click it. You'll get a menu of options including "Copy image URL." Select that and then paste (ctl+V) it between the quotation marks in place of: your image url. You'll get this:



It's cool, and I'm sure there are many others far more adept at this art who can show you more.

BTW - I always use preview when experimenting. Try changing the height, or adding more images; you can always clear the comment box without posting.


message 44: by Riley, Viking Extraordinaire (new)

Riley Amos Westbrook (sonshinegreene) | 1510 comments Mod
Blatant and obvious advertising outside of the promotion folders will be deleted people! We have them for a reason. (Linking to your promo is okay, but blatantly dropping it into the middle of a post about covers...there are better places to put it.)


message 45: by Harald (new)

Harald | 120 comments C.B. Matson wrote: "Okay, I’m game…..."

Hey, C.B. (re: "The Broken Sky"). My reactions to your reactions...
1. Can't really see the 3D/shadow at this size, but yeah, try a "golden" type color and see how that contrasts with the dark/black background.
1b. Q: Do you really need the "The" in the title? I'm thinking just "Broken Sky" is maybe stronger.
2. Yeah, pretty busy. Can't really figure out what's going on in the purple-blue bottom area. What are all those squiggles down there? The eyes don't bother me as much as the squiggles.
3. Until you're Stephen King, the main emphasis has to be on the main title. Your name is OK where it is (although hard to read that fancy font).

Helpful?


message 46: by [deleted user] (new)

Linda wrote: "Hi
I've been having second thoughts about my cover, I don't know if to alter or scrap altogether. Encounter by Linda Dobinson"


Linda, I don't think your cover design serves you. It really looks like a children's book. As Harald mentions, your name should be smaller and the title larger. And the artwork is just too sweet (sorry!) to be taken as a serious book of poetry. You might consider a good nature photo, as a nod to some of your themes?


message 47: by Harald (new)

Harald | 120 comments Linda wrote: "Hi
I've been having second thoughts about my cover, I don't know if to alter or scrap altogether. Encounter by Linda Dobinson"


I agree with Jim. The book sounds great, and with some serious and thought-provoking content. But the current cover does not relay that. I, too, would look at stock nature photos/artwork. There are tons of choices on the main stock photo sites (they also include Illustration). Take a look.


message 48: by A.E. (new)

A.E. Hellstorm (aehellstorm) | 196 comments Thanks, all! Great feedback! I'll experiment a little and see how it works out, and then I'll repost it. (Probably not today, though... ;-) )


message 49: by Harald (last edited May 04, 2015 04:58PM) (new)

Harald | 120 comments C.B. Matson wrote: "A.E., I'm pretty new to html myself, so this is fun to learn. Use Harald's code as he presented it:
(less-than symbolyour image url"(greater-than symbol>). Forget height for right now, and be sure..."


Good follow-up, C.B. But if the online image is much larger (or smaller) then desired, then the height="XXX" parameter is very useful. For this topic thread, I'd recommend a Height of x350-400.

Here's another good explanation of the [image error] HTML tag:
http://www.w3schools.com/tags/tag_img...
(NOTE that you can have the Width parameter, too, but the Height is the most important in this topic context)


message 50: by Phillip (new)

Phillip Stephens | 30 comments Rituals book cover.

A young author I am working with is convinced this should be the cover art for his first book because the symbol ties into the story. So I want to poll the group to get your reactions to report back to him. Please be as honest as possible.

I have told him that there may be better covers available.
book cover

It is YA, high school. But I think the book could be good enough, with serious edits to crossover to adult.


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