Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bearing False Witness by Merrill Heath

What's the genre? What is it you like or don't like about this cover? Does it make you want to know more about the book? Does it make you want to BUY the book? Discuss.


  1. For genre: Classic hard-boiled mystery. Your image has all the right elements: Shadow, guy in fedora and trench-coat (I like the way you combined the two)'private investigator' showing through the fogged glass. However.... you need contrast! This is too soft, for one, and if this is indeed hard-boiled, then even more so. The stronger the light, the more effective the shadows and the more ominous the mood. All the details seem to fade in this image. This is too soft, to cozy, and difficult to read. The title is too delicate and lost against the whiteness of the door. Beef up the title a bit and place it below the glass area.Put the tag line along the bottom move the author's name up to the top of the door where the area is more appropriately sized. As I see it, you have all the right elements here, they just need some adjustment. And one last detail you could add, it's subtle but I think would be a nice touch: as you've placed the reader 'outside' this closed door, emphasize the old-fashioned keyhole with light shining through, almost as if to entice them to lean close and eavesdrop.

  2. Oh, and to everyone here at Cover Art Review... after discussion with S.J. I've begun a complimentary site. Once you've caught reader's eyes with your covers, the next thing they'll be looking at is your blurb. And with that, I've launched Book Blurb Review, which follows the same guidelines as Cover Art Review, with the focus on the blurb. Our introductory blurb is that of your host here at Cover Art Review: S.J. Harris. So once you're done offering your thoughts on today's cover, come on over and join us at


  3. I see this book as a classic hard-boiled detective novel, probably historical as well.

    On the whole the text is good and readable -- well done on the color switch in "Alec Stover" -- But the word "Witness" gets a little lost at the edges. While I like the composition, it feels like the title is a little high on the page. It looks like it should be a larger or more robust typeface, although I can understand you wouldn't want to cover the shadow's face. Possibly if the cover art were slightly smaller you'd have more room for the title?

    The colors are beautiful, but I think this cover would actually work better with less color. Not pure black-and-white, but with the saturation toned down a bit, and maybe the contrast increased a tad.

    It's a good strong image, quietly evocative.

  4. Ooooh...this is good. Sam Spade here I come! This looks is a classic detective story and just up my alley. The last line of type in black gets lost, but that's ok. Great image. I'd buy this in a minute.

  5. The genre is very clearly defined. Detective Noir. I think this cover has potential. It's almost there but not quite.

    I agree with everything C.E. mentioned above. The contrast is too washed out. It doesn't catch the eye. Perhaps adding some color would help.

    A black door with a gold door knob and a red title would make this pop. I really like the idea of the light shinning through the keyhole. I also like the idea of putting the title on the bottom and author's name on top.

    The viewpoint of this picture places the shadow on the outside of the office and us, the readers on the inside. Shouldn't it be the opposite? Maybe it was done intentionally so that "private investigators" would be a mirror image and not interfere with "An Alec Stover Mystery" tag line. I can see that it would be distracting otherwise.

    However, I would like to see the image of the door reversed, so that the view point is from the outside of the office looking in. That would mean that "private investigators" would have to be written normally and one way to solve the problem of it competing with the tag line would be to remove it from the glass door and place it on a small gold plaque on the door instead.

    Nothing is readable as a thumbnail. Also, the word "witness" is larger than the rest of the title. The whole title should be the same font size. It looks unpolished otherwise.

    Hope you find my .02 cents somewhat helpful.

  6. Definitely classic detective noir, circa 1940s.

  7. Thanks, everyone, for the great comments and suggestions. I appreciate the feedback about the text and colors and creating more contrast. I'll play around with all of that and see what I can come up with.

    Gisele, your comments about the perspective on the writing on the frosted glass is interesting. I have versions looking in from both sides and thought it would be more interesting looking from the inside out...mainly because it separated the writing on the window (Private Investigator) from the title and subtitle. But that may be too artsy. I'll take another look at that and may even remove the writing on the glass altogether. We'll see.

    Thanks, again, for all the great suggestions. I hope I get more before the day is over.


  8. The look and layout of the cover is great. It really says 40's, hard boiled detective.

    But I also agree with others that the word "Witness" could stand some work. It could be just the thumbnail but it looks jagged.

  9. For those of you who are interested, here's a coupon for a free download of Bearing False Witness from Smashwords. At checkout enter the coupon code EN38P.

    Thanks, again, for all the great feedback.


  10. This looks like a straight up mystery to me. I like all the elements except the placement of the title and especially the subtitle, "an Alec Stover mystery" seem like they have less impact than the should.

    Sorry for commenting so late!