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Semi-Random Cover Design Thoughts

Discussion in 'Cover Design' started by Demesnedenoir, Jan 12, 2022.

  1. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    The other day I got an email from Damonza.com, who design book covers. I used them for Eve of Snows and Trail of Pyres, and I hopped over to their website just to poke around and took a look at their premium service which starts at like 2k-ish. They have this cover up as one of their examples:
    [​IMG]
    Now, I'm going to say first that if I paid 2k for that (which I wouldn't because you get to consult on the cover) I'd slap myself silly. The only thing, IMO, that makes this cover work is the name "Dean Koontz". Okay, it also works well in thumbnail. Is it bad? No. But, to be blunt, this would be friggin' easy in photoshop. Now the general premise here is a simple and less is more cover, but imagine an unknown author name up there. It becomes... Meh!

    Now, IMO, you could take this next very simple cover, change the title and author to unknowns, and I would still check this book out due to the cover. This is just one my favorite covers, period. I'm not even sure why, but I love it.

    [​IMG]
    So, what covers by big or small names have struck you as junk or are favorites? It'd be interesting to see what turns people on or off.
     
  2. I like the Dean Koontz one (though I'm not sure I'd click for it because it looks like not my genre), but I agree that I would not pay 2k for that. For that kind of money I would want something a lot less Photoshop and a lot more custom art. The only difficult part for the Koontz cover is coming up with the idea. Even more so because I guess that even the font is set for someone like him (his name will look the same on all covers).

    My main issue with the Game of Thrones one would be that the title is hard to read, especially thumbnail size. It does draw the eye and it might make some browsers pause, so I guess that works.

    As for covers in general, I don't have any specific ones. But a general comment, I really dislike the current trend (which is even more common for indie books) is to have a single, bright character photoshopped over some random background. Almost all of them look bad. I understand that they're cheap and easy to make, but I just don't like them at all.
     
  3. Slartibartfast

    Slartibartfast Minstrel

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    A good question. Watch how I dodge it.

    <nerd>
    The GOT cover I think is truly awful. Back in the day when I learned film photography, that type of graphic was heavily criticised for having neither strong blacks nor whites: This type of image was generally seen as a signature of a photographer with limited experience or who was more used to working in colour. It would be dismissively referred to as a 'grey and gray' (ok, I know it's blue tinted) rather than a 'black and white' and the poor student would be sent to reprint it 'properly'.
    </nerd>

    ...but most people don't care about rules like that. We were the sort of people who argued over which photo paper produced the 'truest black'. Book buyers generally aren't. I genuinely think it could be improved by dialling the contrast up so that the blacks were a punchy, deep black and the whites shone through (and putting in some more dramatic clouds to balance the larger gap this would create between elements) but you've picked it out as a favourite. A book buyer picking something and saying ‘that attracts me’ is the whole point and trumps any analysis.

    Anyhoo, my initial reaction just got me thinking about how as people who have probably thought about cover design, or even tried our hand at it, we've probably all taken on various rules and looked at more than our fair share. I don’t know if I can objectively look at a cover and simply be attracted without going into some over-the-top rundown of how well it conforms to various best practice guidelines.

    So now I guess, alongside beta readers, I need to get a beta cover looker atter.

    Question dodged. ;) But seriously, I'm worried now. How do I tell if something's marketable or not? I kind of took it for granted that I'd just know, but thinking about it I probably have a worse idea than most people having immersed myself in the conventions.

    (As an aside, the Koontz one confused me. It’s the first DK one I’ve ever seen where his name wasn’t larger than the title.)
     
    Demesnedenoir likes this.
  4. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    I'll agree with the font on GoT, I was looking at more the overall impression to me. And yes, the Koontz example just screams photoshop.

    It's the bleak, snowy, wolf and trail with bare trees that attract my attention. As a photo I can see that, but I like the lack of contrast for a cover and the tint works for me. Covers rarely convey emotion (to me) and this one does. The series of books on Apple books all have a different feel to them,

    I think you hit on something as well, it's hard as hell to judge what works, which might be one of the best reasons to pay for it, LMAO. The back and forth between artist and writer seems to be key. If on Eve of Snows, which is much loved from responses I've gotten, it took my idea, the artist's interpretation and then about 3 back and forths before saying done..
     
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  5. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    I'll also agree with 2k being illustrated. I don't see a cover on Damonza's "Premium" examples that beats what I got for $600ish. That said, Damonza apparently offers the option of illustrated for their premium covers. I might have to enquire about that and see what examples they might have, just out of curiosity. I also know a guy who is related to David Mack... so if I get drunk some night, I might ask him if his cousin will throw together a cover for me, LMAO.
     
  6. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    LAG and Demesnedenoir like this.
  7. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Basic doesn't mean bad, it's more an issue of when a cover really catches your attention. When selling books, it's best to catch any advantage you can, heh heh.
     
  8. FifthView

    FifthView Vala

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    All-in-all, I'm not terribly impressed by most book covers from the big name authors. The Koontz novels I've seen are kinda boring as a rule. Most Stephen King book covers are also boring. But they do seem to do their job, heh.

    There are oddball covers that I find myself liking. Now I'm wondering if this is a sort of Rorschach Test. One of the first that comes to mind is Storm Constantine's Wraeththu omnibus book cover (containing three novels): Wraeththu (Wraeththu #1-3) by Storm Constantine. (That photo doesn't really do it justice, not the real life thing, but oh well. You can enlarge it on Goodreads for a better look.)
     
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  9. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    That is an interesting cover, it implies a certain mystique/mystery, almost a cipher image, heh heh.

    I would also say that many big name covers aren't impressive because they go BIG NAME! and don't worry much about anything else.
     
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  10. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Good cover for good books!
     
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  11. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    What we really need is the author equivalent of Led Zeppelin to do a cover without their name on it and still hit #1 for months, heh heh heh.
     
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  12. FifthView

    FifthView Vala

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    Some of my all-time favorites, although I've only read each once.
     
  13. FifthView

    FifthView Vala

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    I'm kinda assuming that word of mouth would still promote it, i.e. tie the author name to the book.
     
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  14. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Worked for Zeppelin. But of course, we don't have chapters playing on the radio to be equal to Stairway to Heaven, heh heh.

     
  15. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    i was very sad when she passed.
     
  16. pmmg

    pmmg Istar

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    I think they should be paying dean koontz to have the use of his name to advertise for them.
     
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  17. pmmg

    pmmg Istar

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    Zepplin was not really made for radio either. They were mostly word of mouth and the best, so….
     
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  18. FifthView

    FifthView Vala

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    I take back my comment one-third:

    [​IMG]

    Spotted in the Wild (Walmart 1-14-2022)
    Saw these today. The first two are like most King book covers I've seen in the wild. Basic. Boring.

    But the farthest to the right example is pretty cool and definitely makes me interested in knowing more about the story.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2022
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  19. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    I like the if it Bleeds cover. if only it wasn't king I might check it out, heh heh.
     
  20. FifthView

    FifthView Vala

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    I do like the title's font. I'm wondering though if it's the name + that image that throws me off If It Bleeds. I instantly thought of Pet Sematary when I saw it, so it felt like a repeat, heh.
     
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