1. Sylvia G.
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    Sylvia G. Member

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    Criticism for my book cover?

    Discussion in 'Electronic Publishing' started by Sylvia G., Nov 3, 2013.

    Hello everyone. I'm new here. My name is Sylvia. Greetings!
    I've almost finished my book, titled "Misty, Angel from the Streets".
    This book is a dramatic real-life story of rescuing a street dog from small-town gangsters, of our life together, and our unique bond. And the story of a surprising canine loyalty which reached out even from beyond the grave, to change my views on life and death.

    It's approximately 50,000 words.

    The plan, so far, is to self-publish an e-book. I doubt if an agent would be interested in representing me as I have only one book, and no idea when another will be born, if ever. I have an idea that an agent would prefer a writer who wishes to make a career out of their work. All I want to do is get this unusual story out, where people may have a chance to read it. I am willing to put the work in.
    Book Cover 2 small version2.jpg Book Cover 2 small version2.jpg

    Tonight I made a book cover. It is very simply done, and took me about fifteen minutes to create. But I am unsure whether it is good enough for the market . (The words are not very clear on the Thumbnail version.)

    Any comments, or criticisms would be very much appreciated.
    Thank you,
    Sylvia.
     
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  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I like it. Not sure the comma's needed after "Misty" on a book cover. I love the dog's face. The composition is balanced and the font isn't distracting.
     
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  3. Sylvia G.
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    Sylvia G. Member

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    Haha! I love the dog's face too.

    Okay, I've got that about the comma. It's probably not needed, and there will be no problem to fix it. The font is Arial.
    Thank you very much, GingerCoffee.
     
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  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    To me, it announces itself as self-published. I couldn't place exactly why, so I went to the bookshelf and pulled out a few books.

    The largest issue, I believe, is that the title and other writing on the cover is placed over the photo. As a result, the photo clutters the writing and the writing clutters the photo. And simply because this is rarely done in books, it looks "wrong", whether it is arbitrarily wrong or not.

    All of the books that I pulled down either had the title, author, etc., on their own areas, or the cover illustration/photo was carefully crafted to have a clear unpatterened area where the title could be placed. For example, above Misty is a largely white area; if you put the title entirely in that white area, it would look less odd, and then perhaps you could put the second title and author's name near the bottom in a solid-colored area.

    Second, I didn't see any books at all that had the title in italics. Italics are harder to read, and while you usually use italics when referring to a book in the middle of a paragraph, they're not usually used on book covers, title pages, etc.

    Third, the book essentially has three titles. I would suggest a single title-sized title ("Angel From the Streets" OR "Misty") and then a much smaller (that is, smaller typeface) explanatory title ("Life and Afterlife...") I think that three is just too many.

    As an example, "Service Included" by Damrosch (cover easily found on Google) separates the photo, title, longer explanatory title, and author's name, and all of those words are in solid-colored area. Even the critic's paragraph is placed in a largely unpatterned area of the photo. As well, the photo is clearly edited to eliminate irrelevant parts of the image--you see the waitress and the plates she's holding, but the room beyond her is fuzzed out and tinted entirely red, so as not to distract from the main image.

    Also, the capitalization is, I believe, incorrect. I think it should be:

    Angel From the Streets
    Life and Afterlife With a Rescue Dog
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2013
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  5. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    If I remove emotion from my reply, which is hard because I adore dogs and Misty looks like such a sweetheart, then I can offer you the following points:

    1. Use a more professional picture on the cover. This is a candid snapshot, and doesn't look good on the cover due to whiteout in the sky area and washed out colours. For very small charge, you can find a photo of a dog that looks like Misty, on one of the stock sites like shutterstock or iStockphotos. You can put Misty's real photos on the inside of the book cover or on the back, above the description.

    2. The title is too long, the font and colour are wrong and should be reworked. I'd leave 'Life and afterlife with a rescue dog' as the main title, put ' Misty, Angel from the streets' in much smaller font underneath (no comma) and change font type and colour to something more complimentary to the picture. Even, find similar, traditionally published books on amazon and find a cover you like, and use it as a template.

    This will give it a more professional and eye-grabbing look. All these things are works in progress, it takes a while to get it right. Best of luck, it sounds like a wonderful book :)
     
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  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    chick and jazz said it all for me... they're totally on target with their assessments, sorry to say... for maximum reader/buyer impact, you should take their advice...

    that said, congratulations on having written the book... it's no mean feat!

    if you'd like a detailed assessment of the writing quality, you can send me the first couple of chapters...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
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  7. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi @Sylvia G. Many congrats on your finishing your manuscript, 50,000 words to a publishing level is no mean feat and I'm sure many around here including I, envy you. :)

    We've all heard the saying 'never judge a book by it's cover', unfortunately we all do and going by your cover I wouldn't buy it. Like many have said, the font out over the photo just looks wrong, even amateur. I've no idea what your book is about but coupled with the title it looks like a pamphlet you'd get when you actually rescue a dog at the centre.

    "Life and afterlife with a rescue dog" - like I said, I've no idea what your book is about. Is it a guide on how to look after a rescue-dog? If so what differentiates rescue-pet care from a non rescue-dog? And what is the after-life bit about? How to cope when your companion dies? Or is it some kind of ghost story where the dog and owner die together?

    I think after all the blood and sweat you've poured into your work, you don't need to screw it up with the cover and title. If you're stuck on a title, maybe tell us what the story is and someone will come up with a better name for you.

    Good luck with your work.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2013
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  8. redreversed
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    redreversed Active Member

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    The dog is incredibly cute, but unless I had a sudden strong urge to read a book about dogs I would not bother picking the book up with this cover.

    I don't mean to be rude, making good looking and intriguing covers is hard, but you're going to have to try a bit harder to make it look less amateurish.
    Every point people have said so far is correct, it looks very plain and washed out. You could try some colour correction to give it some more vibrant look or such. But I don't think that will be enough, try using a different photo for a start.

    Good luck!:)
     
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  9. Sylvia G.
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    Sylvia G. Member

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    I would like to thank everyone for so many thoughtful replies, honest criticisms, and a whole lot of great support! Wow....you have all given me lots to think about, and a whole lot of homework to do!

    That bit about the cover looking like a pamphlet from a rescue center...made me laugh out loud. You're right. It does.
    Okay, back to the drawing-board. I know I can do better than this.
    The book isn't quite finished yet. There are about 2 or 3 chapters to go, which should be done in a few days. Then a serious edit is required. I need to re-write chapter 1 and at least half of chapter 2. Letting the book 'rest', then editing, should take about another month.

    I am very grateful for all your criticisms and help.
    Sylvia.:)
     
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  10. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm glad you laughed! We all love our work like our children and can be quite defensive but you've obviously a healthy attitude to constructive criticism no matter how harsh. Maybe you could post something for critique? Good luck ;)
     
  11. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I personally wouldn't buy it, sorry to say - it looks more like a "missing dog" poster to me, or yeah, a pamphlet, as erebh said. The font doesn't look professional to me and would probably also benefit from being grouped more tightly together. As another person have already said, three titles is a bit much. I'd delete "Life and After-life with a Rescue Dog" - it's long, confusing (because now I'm not sure if it's a story or a self-help guide of some sort) and not interesting to say the least.

    I'd heed the advice of people before me. You've worked hard to write this book and this story sounds like it's very close to your heart. Don't shoot yourself in the foot with a bad title/cover.

    For me though, I have a bigger issue with the title rather than the cover. I could forgive the cover because of Misty's eyes - the emotions shine through beautifully. But the title definitely puts me off.
     
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  12. Sylvia G.
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    Sylvia G. Member

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    This definitely shows me how blind we can be to our own mistakes.
    Oddly, I had no trouble with the 50,000 words, but struggled for months to find a title! However, I'm not averse to changing it. The book cover is so important -as is the title and subtitle.

    Misty's rescue was dramatic, and harrowing. I was torn between needing to help her, and trying to support her Heroin-addicted owner. His connection with local gangsters, and the underworld of drug dealers, was a constant threat. Eventually, this young man found a way out of his addiction, but returned from Rehab. nine months later as an alcoholic with a violent temper. He had come to claim his dog, who was now terrified of him. One night, as he threatened me with a knife, I snatched her and ran.
    From then on, our life together was sheer happiness, even though we lived 'on the run'. She was a dog with intelligence, sense of humour, fierce loyalty to me, and an unusual grace of character. She put me in touch with my real Self; mended my heart which had been broken by a lifetime's experiences.
    My bond with her was the strongest bond I've ever known, with anyone -dressed in fur or otherwise. Losing her to Hemangiosarcoma in 2012 was the most devastating event of my life.
    I had no belief in an existence after death. That was something I would have to know, not believe in. To know, I would need hard evidence. I had never received it.
    A month after her passing, I sensed her presence suddenly, which changed my whole viewpoint about the Afterlife. These contacts recurred. Then in August 2012, I had a spontaneous out-of-body experience in full consciousness, in which I met and touched her. For the first time, I had my hard evidence that death is not the end. And if a dog survives death, then we all must do.

    That's our story.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2013
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  13. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    that's some story, sounds like something for Oprah or the breakfast shows on TV. No idea what you'd call it though :(
     
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  14. Sylvia G.
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    Sylvia G. Member

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    No....haha...neither have I!o_O
     
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  15. Thornesque
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    Thornesque Contributing Member

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    So, I decided to sort of...draw out my suggestion, keeping in consideration what everyone else has said:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    My first thought was that you should change from a Sans-Serif font to a Serif font. This one is just called "Serif," but really, any Serif font would do. I think they're more pleasant to look at, while still not being distracting, as, of course, the photo is the focus of the cover. I also went along with ChickenFreak's suggestion that you block off a place for the title, to keep things cleaner and less cluttered.

    A personal preference of mine: when there's multiple words in a title, I prefer that they're not all in one line. I also thought it would look better if the less important words ("from" and "the") were made smaller. Still readable, but the important words are the ones you'll notice first.

    Your name is closer to the title, now. Again, this keeps the words from distracting from the picture. But it's set off from the title so that it gets its due attention.

    I didn't want to show too many examples, but obviously, you can move the words around as you wish. Looking at it now, in the second example, I think the title should be in the upper right of the blue box, while your name should be in the lower left. But that's just me.

    Hope this helps.
     
  16. Sylvia G.
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    Sylvia G. Member

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    I really do thank everyone for all the interest and energy you are giving this. It is all very helpful.
    I did a new one....is this any better? Or does it still look amateurish?
    (The reason you can't see the edges of it is because the background is all white.)

    angel called Misty2 smallversion.jpg
     
  17. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    no no no. Is the story about a dog? When buying a book no one is going to give a crap about misty. It's through your story they'll fall in love with her, first you have to get them to buy it. Your story needs to be full of drugs and violence and heartbreak with a heart-warming finish, sorry but lose misty off the cover if you want to sell
     
  18. Sylvia G.
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    Sylvia G. Member

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    I have a strange feeling Misty will help this book because of her face, and the story is all about her rescue etc. Yes there are the gangsters, addicts, me, streets, struggles....but she's the central character all through. It's all about her, and a Dog Story. (albeit dramatic and unusual.) The whole dramatic arc is about her and her rescue.....and the final part about her life after death contacts.
     
  19. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    fair enough, I can only offer my opinion and if I want a picture book of cute dogs I'll buy one. I just think all the bad stuff you went through is a lot more interesting than puppy eyes.
     
  20. MsScribble
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    MsScribble Member

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    I agree with erebh - I would personally love to read your story but try doing a few mock-up covers going completely the different way - a little more abstract. This kind of insists upon itself - and yes, i did just borrow a phrase from Family Guy.
    Your description of the book sounds interesting and layered, the cover doesn't. It detracts.

    Also, if you're going to put a personal photograph of her on the cover, consider black and white/more sparse and with a border.
     
  21. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm afraid that it still doesn't work for me:

    - The "halo" style round photograph bothers me more than the original. It's good that your text is over an unpatterned area, but this method of clearing area isn't working for me.

    I would instead suggest wiping out the background and focusing on just the dog. I realize that you may need to find someone who knows how to alter digital photos, to do this.

    If you Google for "pet trouble" book, there's a series of books about pets where this was done--there's a dog and, in most cases, no detail at all in the background. In some cases it appears that the dog was photographed in front of a colored backdrop, and in others I'd guess that the detail was removed with Photoshop or something similar.

    Another thought: What if you put the snapshot into context *as* a snapshot? I find myself imagining it being framed in a simple but attractive frame, that frame being set on a simple but attractive piece of furniture or hung on an attractively colored wall, and then the cover image is a picture of the picture. Or the snapshot being tossed on a table and photographed. Or a classic "photo corners' presentation of the snapshot.

    Or...something like that. That would give you the context of memories, the past, your home, and so on, and make the non-professional nature of the actual snapshot much more forgivable. Maybe. Again, I'm not a professional here.

    - There's very little color and therefore very little visual impact.

    - The font for the main title is rather thin and stretched, again with very little visual impact.

    - The title was a little long, and now it's even longer. :) I'd try hard to cut it.
     
  22. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    cf's framed photo idea is the best suggestion yet, for the artwork!

    re the 'i' info at the bottom, i'd strongly recommend leaving 'you' off the cover entirely, other than in the by line... something more like:

    "Rescued from the streets, her love outlives death."

    would be more impactful...

    also, you should take the sage advice to use a serifed font...

    for the title, less is more... i see no benefit to be gained by the 'angel' bit... just "Misty" is enough... the picture and tag line as suggested above will say all that needs to be said on the cover... you can provid more details in the back cover blurb, along with a photo of the two of you together...

    study all of the covers in this amazon category... notice the differences in quality between the covers of self-published books and the ones that paying publishers deemed worth spending their money on...

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/search/ref=sr_adv_b/?search-alias=stripbooks&unfiltered=1&field-keywords=dog&field-author=&field-title=&field-isbn=&field-publisher=&node=2&field-p_n_condition-type=&field-feature_browse-bin=&field-subject=&field-language=&field-dateop=During&field-datemod=&field-dateyear=&sort=relevanceexprank&Adv-Srch-Books-Submit.x=25&Adv-Srch-Books-Submit.y=5
     
  23. Sylvia G.
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    Sylvia G. Member

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    mammamaia!

    ""Rescued from the streets, her love outlives death."
    That is SO smart! What a dumb-bum I am not to have thought of that particular phrase all day long, when all I could do was obsess about that subtitle! Thanks!

    er....am I being any kind of nuisance here? If so just tell me to bugger off, and your wish is my command....:D
     
  24. auntiebetty
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    auntiebetty Active Member

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    I believe your book falls into the Memoir genre. Sometimes these books have wide appeal and sometimes limited appeal. Many a grandpa and grandma want to write their memoir and only print copies for family members. Others go for the economy of the large production run and their garage is still full of undistributed books when they die.

    Before you go through with the redo of the cover, the editing of the book, and finally self-publishing, please think about how you will distribute the final product.

    Will you give the book away free, or market and sell the final product.
    Ask yourself if you will publish your book only in digital format for readers to download, or will you publish it only in paperback, or do you want both eread and print versions.

    Professional covers cost money, editors cost money, printing costs money, marketing costs money.

    I hope my comments are as helpful to you as the comments you have already received.
     
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  25. graphospasm
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    graphospasm Senior Member

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    Idea: A close-up of a dog's ID tag that's been engraved with the book's title/subtitle, maybe hanging from a collar. Author info/further info at the bottom of the cover. You can go to a local Petsmart and get a dogtag engraved for about $5 (they might even have a wings-and-halo shaped tag to play up the angel imagery). Take a nice hi-res pic, put it on a white background, voila. It's obvious the book is about a dog without resorting to puppy eyes!

    Here's a TRULY HORRENDOUS MOCK-UP I made in eight-point-four seconds in MS Paint.

    Also I'm bad at covers; let's keep mockery to a minumum. ;)
     

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