“Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville. “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Book Covers – You’re The Judge

A little help and/or advice required, folks, if you can spare the time … The three covers below (designed by JT Lindroos) are in the running for the cover of the Kindle version of CRIME ALWAYS PAYS (which is set for a goodly part on a Greek island), and while there’s things I like about all three, I’m not entirely certain about any of them. Any thoughts? All feedback welcome …





49 comments:

Eolai said...

For what it's worth,

I like #2.

#1 I find too busy, and for #3 I've never been a fan of authors' names being bigger than titles. #2 I think carries more menace, along with a clean look.

Jon The Crime Spree Guy said...

I like the 70's vibe of number three

Vincent said...

I can see why you'd be uncertain - none of them jumps out as a great cover. I would definitely agree with Eolai though and pick #2.

Raul D. said...

Number #2 ( with the author name in any other colors )

No. #1 would be ok-ish with different fonts...

Branedy said...

In these times, maybe a picture of a Bank might be suitable. But given the choices, the middle one is more visually interesting.

Donna said...

I prefer number 2, with number 3 as second choice. Number 1 feels too cosy. As though it's a 1920s novel set on a cruise ship.

I like the the way the title looks on number 2, and also the colours of your name. The whole thing looks clean and very professional.

If the fonts for number 3 were switched, I'd like it more - ie if the title was written large in the 70s font (and moved up the cover).

Eoin Purcell said...

I on the emerging #2 bandwagon!
Though # has a certain appeal!

Bob said...

Definitely #2. 1 looks like it should be on the cover of an Agatha Christie and 3 is like 2 but the font isn't as eye-cayching.

Tina Mammoser said...

no 2 is strong and gets my attention. 1 reminds me of cheesy gay crime (which is good if it is cheesy gay crime - we've got a lot of that in our house!). Don't like the author name bigger in the last; my eye is drawn to the name instead of the title.

Gerard Brennan said...

Number 3 for me, though like Donna Moore suggested, I think the fonts should be switched so that the title is written in that cool seventies-type font.

gb

bookwitch said...

The others are all wrong. The first is best. Fits the story best. (What do they know?)

Uriah Robinson said...

Definitely number two, in number three the disembodied font for your name makes it look as if you might be dead.
Author names should be smaller or the same size as the title, with no photo of the author on the cover unless they look like Liza Marklund or Camilla Lackberg or Donna Moore. ;o)

crimeficreader said...

I prefer 2 and like its existing font. 3 is awful, looks like it's sunk down the page and squashed in.
Agree with "too busy" and "cosy" comments on 1.

Maeve said...

I like no. 1 but perhaps with a different font

Rafe McGregor said...

Definitely the middle one, Dec.

Kieran Shea said...

Number 2, Dec. Totally. I used to work in the advertising biz, and this is the grabber.

Elaine said...

Number 1 is indeed a bit 'busy'. Something not right about 3 - too much blue space and the two fonts seem to be shouting at each other a bit. I'd go for 2, but would like to see a bit more space between the author byline and the book title...if that makes any sense from someone who knows nothing about design.

Stuart Neville said...

I'm with the consensus view of preferring #2. However, I would look at the font and/or colour and/or position of the title with that one. From a design point of view, the title is very solid and chunky, which is fine in itself, but because it runs into the image of the town, which is also quite solid, it forms one big mass, and your eye isn't quite sure where to focus.

Michael O'Toole said...

Get some guns in there.

Fiona said...

#2 for me as well. I like the title font, but your name is a little weak to my eye. Agree with Elaine regarding some separation between author and title, the current colours rub me the wrong way with such a tight juxtaposition.

#3 isn't bad... damning with faint praise.

Don't like #1's font at all. It's busy, as is the image.

Bet you're delighted though to get it to this stage! Congrats.

Rob Kitchin said...

Definitely number two, but maybe get the font into a more noir-ish style? It wouldn't be a bad idea to get some kind of crime related picture on there, perhaps hanging over a top corner, such as a weapon or something that appears in the book.

Gareth Watson said...

Personally I think that number 2 would be best if you dropped the 'cut and paste' Greek Island clip art and just kept the writing. Unless these are just mockups in which case if the cropped image of the greek town can be integrated better then I'd go with that!

AnswerGirl said...

Always hate to tag along with the crowd, but I vote #2 as well.

marco said...

I vote #1 followed by #3 and #2. I don't like the black title over the island in #2.


v-word: epolosi, which sounds Greek.

Corey Wilde said...

#1 looks like a cozy cover. #3, author's name much too big. #2 it is, but can you make the S's into dollar signs? Or is that too American considering the book's contents? Is the dollar sign universal enough to be used that way?

Josephine Damian said...

Not thrilled about any of them, but vote for #2 w/ change of color/s on your name.

Bill Crider said...

I'd go w/#2.

Ego said...

I think no. 2 looks like a cheap forgettable thriller - probably a disposable plot - I wouldn't buy it.

No. 3 is slightly worse.

No. 1 is best though needs work. It's unusual and grabs the attention with the juxtaposition of sofas and bars. How about a scuba diver climbing in the window? Agree with others that it's too busy... a simple font and remove the cushions in the foreground.

J. Kingston Pierce said...

Number 2 is my pick as well. Although it's fairly conventional, it certainly has the best use of typography and the boldest presentation. (Number 1 is too cartoony, and Number 3's type is too '70s and doesn't stand out well.) But I agree with some others here, that you ought to ask your designer to change the colors in your byline on Number 2 so that your name pops out a tad more.

Cheers,
Jeff

pattinase (abbott) said...

I think one is the most intriguing-except for the font. It makes me wonder what's going on behind the bars, in that living room overlooking the sea. The others just paint a nice picture for me.

John McFetridge said...

I'm with Jon and the 70's vibe, but I'm old....

Declan Burke said...

Much obliged for the feedback, folks ... For the record, I preferred the first one ... Maybe I've got a cosy ol' heart. But, as Ms Witch says, it's close in tone to the book ... which, to be fair, most people wouldn't have known. Also, you're all correct - a writer's name should never be bigger than the title, no exceptions.

I like the second cover too, although I don't like the way the title words into one another ... but I do like the way 'Pays' rises out of the village. Don't like the colours on my own name, though ...

Anyway, ta very muchly, I really appreciate it ...

Cheers, Dec

Peter Rozovsky said...

I like number one. A distant vista always carries a subliminal hint of menace, and that's why we read this kind of stuff, isn't it?
==============
Detectives Beyond Borders
“Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home”
http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

Heartbeatoz said...

I like number one it looks very inviting, ready to take a closer look inside the Book.

Anonymous said...

Declan,
No expert on this and of course, you shouldnt judge a book by its cover and all that, but unfortunately, sometimes I do ... Personally #1 is great - I think it's brilliant. The font is a bit weird though. However, I can see the market out there having a preference for the more traditional crime novel format that is # 2.

Cheers,

PADDY

Anonymous said...

Numero dos para mi tambien!
Arlene

Alan Griffiths said...

Number two gets my vote Dec. Good luck with this!

engano said...

I'd go for no 1 without the Pacman font! To me its the most mysterious cover with the most to say. The others look cheap. And I also agree that authors' names should never be bigger than the title, that just tells me that "the book is crap but we're selling it on the back of past reputation". The major publishers just rip off each others covers and there's too few interesting ones around.

Joe Barone said...

Bright colors always attract me.

Donna said...

I think it's probably the font that puts me off number 1 and makes me think it's a 1920s cosy. I think with a butcher font I would like it best.

Peter Rozovsky said...

Yes, I guss the font on No. 1 does look Pacmanish, which does seem a bit on the cozy side. So lose the font but keep the cover.
==============
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

bookwitch said...

So, you've all changed your minds now?

Declan Burke said...

You know what, I'm leaning back to the 'cosy' cover again ... I think it's the lure of all those cushions, and long siestas on Greek afternoons ... Maybe I need to write a different kind of story.

I did like the Pacman font at the start, but no, it'll have to go ...

Cheers, Dec

bookwitch said...

Decided I just have to link here to what is now rather old news, but also a little inaccurate, but I can tell your readers need a CAP review.

http://bookwitch.wordpress.com/2008/05/09/the-blue-orange-rave/

I can't help it if people go round changing book titles every so often.

Declan Burke said...

I thank 'ee kindly, Ms Witch ...!

Cheers, Dec

Josh Schrank said...

Dec,

Not sure how much advice an old whiskey swiller can give, but here goes. I've not read the book, so I don't know what comes closest to the story, however #1 just seems too whimsical to me for some reason. Maybe it is the font that was used. The picture itself makes me think of some garden-variety novel that has nothing to do with crime or mystery.

Of the three, #2 is my choice, but even here I'd edit it. With everything stacked on top of one another, name, title, graphic, it is too confusing to focus on it. It tends to make me want to glance at it and look away. I think figure and ground all jumble together to make nothing stand out.

#3 is weighted towards the bottom and feels asymmetrical. It doesn't have anything that entices me to want to pick it up.

You know how positive of a guy I am, so take anything I say with a grain of salt, but here's the thing; If I'm in a bookstore browsing, and I'm not looking for a book by someone I know, the cover is what gets my attention first, not so much the name of the story. I can't say any one of the three would compel me to give the book a look.

Glancing over at the Eightball Boogie cover, that one grabs my attention. It has a graphic that is simple, yet compelling. It immediately lets you know that foul play is afoot and mystery is happening. From the three CAP covers, there really is no way of knowing what the book is about. It could be a historical text about Sicily, or about Martha Stewart's time in prison... neither of which would interest someone looking for a mystery/thriller.

Sorry to be such a kill-joy, but I hope something in there helps you a bit. Good luck with it!

Josh Schrank said...

You know... the more I think about it, and the post bookwitch left, the more I caution not getting caught up in trying to graphically align the book cover with the story (as seems to be the case in #1). No one that is browsing knows what the book is about, so trying to make the cover an extension of the story line is pointless. Use the cover as a hook. Make it a marketing tool to get someone to pick it up and look at it.

Fiona said...

Bookwitch's helpful review aside, most people browsing a shelf whether be it virtual or real may not have read reviews of a given book. If they have, they're likely to disregard the cover anyway. The cover should, as Josh says, be a hook to zap all the casual browsers and make them curious or interested. I still don't think #1 has that nailed.

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