Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Indie to Indie

There is a ton of information our there for indie authors about writing and publishing but very little, it seems to me, on design. Since I have been a graphic artist for a very long time, I thought it might be ideal to help the indie community at large by offering a critique on book covers. So, I put the offer out there.

Welcome, Donna White Glaser, the first to step bravely forward with The Enemy We Know.

I am going to post Donna's cover with a link to her book on Amazon and then the critique. In Donna's case, I also did a quick 'after' based on the suggestions.

Overall, the photography and typesetting have an unprofessional feel. I know that can be hard to hear, but here is what I would suggest to tighten it up.

You are draining the strength of your title: it has odd leading, in other words, there is too much space from the bottom of the first line to the top of the next, especially considering the uneven space above and below in the transparent blue block. Your headline is not holding together as a unit. It is also not centered correctly from left to right. Tighten the space between the lines and center it both up and down and side to side.

Your name is set oddly--not sure if it is supposed to be centered or not, but if not, then it should be more off centered or flushed right entirely, not somewhere in between centered and flushed right (where all words line up on the right hand edge)--it looks like a mistake.

I like the branding you are doing with the circle and triangle if this is a series, it is however much too big. If it is not part of a series, I would lose the circle/triangle entirely--just work the words in as a subhead.

The image is doing you a grave disservice. If that is the only image you have access to, I would suggest shadowing and fading to try and obscure it further--sometimes it is better to leave something to the imagination.

Is the book set in history? The calligraphy would suggest so. If yes, then I might disagree with your red, white, and blue color scheme. Blue tends to be calming and modern--neither of which I might think you'd want for your cover.


The most important things were minimizing and 'disguising' the image a bit. I made it black and white (except for the blade) and put a grainy screen on it to give it a grittier look. Then I screened a gradient over the majority of it to bring out the blade and the word 'bloody'. I changed your blue to something with a bit more gray, making it more neutral to get away from the red, white and blue. I retypeset your name and the title and changed the size of your 12 step symbol. The symbol is a strong one and doesn't need to be large to be readily identifiable to a consumer. Then I added some swagger by giving the title a metallised look--that one is subjective, though, you might not feel your book needs it!

I want to thank Donna for submitting her cover. I know critiques can be nerve-wracking, but as Donna said in her email: Anything that can make my book as a whole better is heartening.

Link to Donna's book, should the above link not work:


christine.dougherty said...

This is a complete aside and not related to this particular post, but I just wanted to point out--I can finally comment on my own blog!

Jeff West said...

I like the improvements, but I still have a few questions (keep in mind I'm not a trained graphic artist, but I think I have a good eye).

Why the change from all caps on the author's name? I really think it minimizes the author a bit. I prefer all caps or small caps.

Also, the cover still looks too segmented. I'd prefer a fade from the solid colors at the top and bottom into the image.

Otherwise, I like the improvements and found the post informative and interesting.

Donna White Glaser said...

Thank you so much for lending your expertise! You've really put into words some things that I needed to have clarified. I'm not, myself, a visual person so this will help me when I go to make some changes.
Again, thank you!
Donna White Glaser

Lisa Goodwin said...

Yeah Christine!!!! I am so happy you can post a comment now! And I really like the difference in the book cover. I am not a graphic artist, just a writer, that's why I hire professional people like you, in order to make my book cover the best it can be. For me, it helps to give my book to an artist, and see what their interpretation of my book is, that way I can get a feel if I have portrayed what I have hoped to through my story.
I really enjoyed the book cover, it is intriguing and makes me want to read the story behind the cover. As far as All caps vs. lower case, that doesn't matter to me s much. I am looking at the overall image on the cover, drawing me in wanting to know why.
Thanks for this post, it was very helpful, as always!