My new book will be coming out soon — probably in the next week. I’m currently working on the cover, and would be interested in people’s feedback about it (especially from those of you who’ve beta-read the manuscript).
For those of you who don’t know the book (most of you) it’s structurally a cosy mystery, but stylistically a satire of technolibertarianism. I don’t know any genre it would fit in (Paul Magrs suggested “technocosy”, but there are no other such books), but a list of books that I think would appeal to the same people who might like this might be something like:
The Dirk Gently books by Douglas Adams
The Laundry books by Charles Stross (especially the first few)
The Mervyn Stone Mysteries by Nev Fountain
The Rivers books by Ben Aaronovitch
Most of Neal Stephenson’s stuff, especially the sillier, more satirical, stuff.
But with none of the supernatural or SF elements most of those books have. And less masculine — all of those have male protagonists, while mine has a woman (in a relationship with another woman).
When I started writing it I was aiming for somewhere close to The Name Of The Rose, but I missed and ended up with something far lighter and frothier, I think.
Anyway, does that cover suggest that kind of book? Any suggestions for improvements gratefully welcomed. (I’d also be interested to hear if that list of similar books lines up with what people who’ve read this in draft think).
Edit Within about thirty seconds of posting this, two people told me the title font isn’t great. I’ll be changing that to lower case, so it’ll look like the author name, though with the same colour it is now.
With the fish on the cover, it looks like an odd kind of mystery, so I think you hit your structure alright.
On the design criticism side, it’s a good first draft. However, it has a few flaws that make it look very amateur-hour and unappealing.
First and foremost, CHANGE THE TITLE FONT, it is very hard to read (The Basd£dsk? Basdldsk? BasjLjk?). Either just make the first letters of each word capital (The Basdldsk Murders) or simply change to a less loopy front and stay all caps. I would also make it bigger, since it seems to be about the same size as your name and confuses the eye on which part of the design to look at. If the title is bigger (or your name smaller), it can still share the same font without a conflict of attention.
I would also move the “A Sarah Turner Mystery” part to be under the title. It reads better as a subscript and will let you move the fish picture down a little to give your title some more breathing room. It’s a small quibble, but the closeness of the title and image makes it look oddly crowded and leaves too much empty space on the bottom. (Also, while I’m looking closely at shadow under the glass, it seems a bit distorted near the word ‘Hickey’- a quick blur on that bit on photoshop or equiv program should smooth that out)
MATCH your colours. You are using red, orange, black, and blue? Blue and red clash like woah. I’d commit to a warm color scheme (reds, oranges, black) or a cold one (any blues, blacks) for front colours.
Thanks for this — all good advice (I have basically no graphic design skills at all).
As for the shadow under the glass, that’s actually *after* I did a quick blur in the GIMP to sort out the original problem — the source image cut the shadow before it faded out, leaving a hard line at the bottom which looked ridiculous when the image was in the centre of the cover. I’ll try some other things to see if I can get it closer.
Yeah, seconded on changing the title font. It’s not too bad for your name but for the title it’s both hard to read and kind of chintzy looking.
Also, I don’t know if that’s a picture of a goldfish in a water glass or if you Photoshopped the goldfish INTO the glass, but it really looks like the latter. There needs to be a reflection or a shadow or something to make it look like it has more of a physical presence.
Meta-advice: ask one of your friends who does have graphic design skills to help you out. You don’t have to do everything yourself.
This is my suggestion too. I thought I had good graphic design skills for a non-designer, and actually I totally don’t.
My suggestion: get a proper artist who can do graphic design for books, and pay them. You don’t want a cover that says “self-published”, you want a cover that looks of professional standards, that works from 160px to 3200px, that fits in yet stands out amongst all the other books in its Kindle category, where the colours would survive the transition to CMYK reasonably robustly, etc.
I knew my cover was a winner when someone said “it doesn’t look self-published”.
You’re going to have friends, and friends-of-friends, who can do this job and do it well. My suggestion is of course Alli Kirkham, who did mine. Suitably co-conspiratorial. She did both the art and the graphic design, I paid for both jobs.
The problem is that I simply don’t have the money to hire a professional, especially given the tiny number of expected sales for my fiction. This isn’t a book that’s likely to sell enough even to pay minimum wage for the time spent writing it as is — it’s entirely possible it won’t sell enough even to cover the cost of the free copies for Patreon backers.
I can sell non-fiction, but my fiction just disappears into the void, and I don’t have enough money to throw any away.
(If this was a book that was likely to sell in any numbers at all, like yours, I would of course get someone else to do the graphic design).
I bet you could call in half-hour favour from someone.
ah, fair enough :-) In that case, I would look at the relevant Kindle sections (murder mysteries and sci-fi humour) and see if you can come up with something that clearly works at 160px. So I’d pick a very clear and readable font, not what you have there – there’s a reason books tend to blocky fonts.
I *think* that the font I’ve chosen will work when it’s in mixed case — I’m going to try that out. It’s actually a very similar font to the ones used by most cozy mysteries — eg https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pancakes-Corpses-Peridale-Cafe-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01MR95ZSV/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1507748670&sr=8-5&keywords=cozy+mystery
While the book is obviously not a cosy mystery, it’s similar enough to them that I decided to choose a font that suggests them, while not going wholesale for the cosy design with its watercolour pictures of cupcakes and so on. I’ll see how readable the finished design is at 160px (having a legally blind wife is very good for that kind of thing)
…And I just got an offer from a friend who’s a professional who’s willing to make some design changes for me at a rate I *can* actually afford.
And you can also be sure I’ll be pushing this hard to the assorted Internet nests of LW-hating sneer culturists ;-)
Thanks — it’s going to need all the help it can get ;)
(Already planning a sequel, this time set around an old rock band who all hate each other reuniting for their fiftieth anniversary tour…)
Send me your latest draft as an epub and i can read it on the commute, easier than the PDF.
I look forward to the sequel. I’m picturing Sarah as someone who made a decent living in the day but is now reduced to occasional work from the Reg or Inquirer …