Tuesday, March 1, 2011

New Blog For Authors!

They say you can't judge a book by its cover.

They also say you never get a second chance at a first impression.

They say a lot of things, but let's face it: strong book covers help drive sales.

So how can we know if our covers are the best they can be?

That's why I created this site. Every day a new author will have a chance to get some feedback on his or her ebook cover. Everyone is welcome to submit, and everyone is welcome to comment.

Let's keep the criticism constructive and the language clean. No flame wars, no snark. Let's have fun with this. And if we come away with some ideas for a better book cover...well, that's the idea.

I'll get the ball rolling with the cover for my debut thriller Journey Into Darkness. Have at it, but be gentle. This is my first time. ;)



  1. I haven't read the product description, just looked at the cover. My first guess is an alien spacecraft landed in the woods? I suppose Journey into Darkness could refer to space...

    My second guess is Blair Witch.

    How close am I? :D

    Stylistically, I'd say your words are too narrow (the lines disappear a little and I have a HUGE screen, so they shouldn't be doing that!) and appear to have a strange shadow on them. Are they raised font? I liked the blood drops after I figured out what they were.

    I think I'd give your cover a C- overall. There just isn't a lot there to catch my interest. Sorry :/

    J. E. Medrick

  2. No need to be sorry, J.E. I appreciate your honest assessment. That's what this site is for.

    I'll see if we get a few more comments before responding.

  3. Your cover looks mysterious to me. The picture draws me into the woods. However, when I see it as a thumbnail, the red print is difficult for me to read.

  4. Yeah, my first impressions are of either ghosts or also of UFOs.

  5. Hi Suzanne. You're right, it is difficult to see as a thumbnail. I need to work on that.

  6. Interesting, Josh! Maybe I need to write a different book to fit this cover. ;)

  7. Hmm, this cover makes me think there's something hiding in the woods. What exactly, I don't know. It also makes me think the time is set somewhere in the past, you know, with horse and carriage and stuff like that.

    If I were to guess the genre, I'd say Horror.

  8. The story definitely has horror elements, Mr. RAD! It's set in the present, though.

  9. I sense horror and I love the dark picture of the forest. I'm not a fan of blocks of solid color to make the title stick out though. I'd prefer to see the forest all over the cover and larger/thicker font to make it pop.

  10. It looks like it's either a ghost story or a UFO story. The subtitle says “thriller” so I'd guess it's a supernatural thriller.

    I don't think you need the camera flare behind the title. As others have suggested, maybe make the title bolder, get rid of the 3-D effect (it makes the title harder to read), and make sure it's bright enough to stand out against a black background. I think the red title is a good contrast to the blue photograph.

    One last thing, because I'm an anal designer; move in the period following the J in your name so that the visual space between the J and its period, matches the visual space between the S and its period.

  11. I like the picture of the woods. Where did you get it? When you add in the camera flare at top, though, it makes it look like a UFO abduction book.

    I would get rid of the dripping blood. That always looks cheesy to me. I would probably move away from red lettering, even - it's just too stereotypical for thriller and horror books.

  12. Thanks for the input, everyone! Here's the product description as it reads on Amazon.

    When flight nurse Kim Journey was eleven, her five-year-old sister Jennifer disappeared.

    Kim was supposed to be watching her.

    Plagued with guilt for many years, Kim believes in her heart Jenny is still alive. She takes traveling assignments and tacks posters all over the country with computer-generated photos of what Jenny would look like now.

    On a Life Flight call to a cardiac emergency, Kim discovers something horrifying, something grave and sinister and impossible to ignore. As the only living witness to this atrocity, she feels compelled to launch an investigation.

    With no help from the police, and her nursing license in jeopardy, Kim must strike out on her own in an effort to discover what really happened.

    But the truth seems to be elusive in the small town of Hallows Cove, Florida, and Kim soon finds herself tumbling headfirst into a black maze of deceit, betrayal, and murder.

    Fans of James Patterson and J.A. Konrath will love the suspense, drama, and sheer terror of this lightning-paced tightrope walk by newcomer S.J. Harris.

    49,000 words.

  13. The dripping blood is quite corny and devalues the books appeal, steer clear of "fun" fonts that add these elements unless you are writing a book specifically designed for a very young audience or the book is a comedy.

    Try White as the colour of your main headline, keep it simple and clear, remember that the book will reduce to a postage stamp size on certain formats and you want people to be able to read clearly the title of your book.
    The photo is good but I'd lose the lens flare effect, it detracts from the central figure in the photo.

  14. Thanks, Vandal Six. I'm going to think about all the comments here and then probably commission work on a new cover. Appreciate all the thoughtful feedback!

  15. ---------

    If it didn't say thriller on the cover, I wouldn't be sure of the genre. I would personally change "thriller" to "novel" or something equivalent, and let the cover stand on its own.

    Ignoring the classification, to me this looks like a horror book. I get a very Evil Dead feel from it. I'm expecting to see a cabin in the back with a rusty old porch swing. The title and how it's presented further reinforce this.

    Second Review

    I'll agree that the blood dripping doesn't work in your favor. It just reminds me of an old King novel, and to me that's not a good thing for this particular book.

    I actually do like the lens flare (and I usually hate the darn things) but I agree with the above poster. It's the focal point of the cover right now, and I think you need to rework it if you're going to use it. Possibly tweak the title to incorporate it in a muted way.

    Overall, I'd grade it as a C. From cover alone, this book would probably catch my interest, but I'd likely think it was horror and would reconsider a purchase based on the description, just because it doesn't line up with my expectations.

  16. Thanks, Courtney! Nobody likes the dripping blood, lol.

  17. If anyones interested I wrote about the importance of covers on my blog here and about the need to create strong covers for ebooks.


  18. First impression: it's paranormal/horror/aliens. Kind of hard to narrow it down for me from there, as the forest pic, which is neat and dramatic, unfortunately could mean many things, and the book title doesn't help me decide.

    The blood drops are too large to be pouring from those delicate S's, so it looks extra fake. They suggest there will be spattering gore inside, which seems to contrast with the subtle suspense the picture conveys.

    The top section of the cover, which is black with the lens flare, looks to be sci-fi and doesn't blend with the rest of the pic well. The 3D effect makes that space feel enormous, like a hollow box sitting on top of your forest.

    I really like the dim figure in the distance. It speaks of supernatural/alien/zombie to me.

    The word "thriller" in the subtitle makes me think you weren't sure the cover would convey that, so you had to come out and tell us.

    The red font is dark enough that...no wait, that's my monitor, I'll crank up the brightness...nope, still dark. The red is so dark and slender that it blends into the black. No matter how awesome color is, I've found that, for sheer readability, it's hard to beat plain white. Or black, on a white background, as if the fog were pervading the rest of the cover and the letters were punching holes in it. :P

    This might be just me, but it's always puzzling when a cover has two different fonts on it, as you have for title/author and for subtitle. The subtitle is much more readable due to its color, but that font is vanilla. JMHO but a matching color/font combo between title and subtitle would seem stronger.

  19. Overall I like the cover. Agree with the others about the blood, but I'd also take out the birght star/light. That gives it too much of a UFO look. Like the picture of the woods though.

  20. I like the cover picture. I agree about the comments about the dripping blood, letter width, and period spacing. I disagree with the comment about the word "thriller". I think that's fine and would caution against using the word novel. That always feels wrong to me.

    One thing I'd like to see on the cover posts is who did the work, and a link to thier site, if they have one. That would really expand the interest in coming and pitching in, I think.

    Great site and I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next.

  21. I agree with most of the commenters re dripping and light conveying spaceship or aliens, so I won't rehash.

    Beyond that, all the letters need more contrast. That red just won't show up well on a Kindle, tho it might on everything else. But regardless, your name and the title are the entire point of the image being there and should be featured more.

    I do like the depth of the image, though that might be lost in thumbnail size.

    Decent. Not the greatest. But definitely not shoddy.

    Kendall Swan

  22. Ok, here goes...

    Your book is called "Journey into Darkness" yet you have 2 large points of *light* on your cover. ;) At minimum, the top flare must go.

    Second, not enough contrast for the letters, which is the important part.

    Dripping blood letters... well, you see what everyone else thinks...

    Image needs to be bigger - the fade at the bottom is nice, but the one at the top doesn't work.

    If the word 'dark' is in your title, then the image need to evoke 'dark.' These woods aren't sinister enough to match the bloody letters.

    This definitely isn't an F, more like a C - C+. But it needs work.

    Good job starting this blog. I'll drop by regularly! :)

    cover girl, ebook design chica

  23. I jotted down my own notes before I read the other comments but I see that I've written many of the same things as others.

    1) I like the picture and having it bracketed top and bottom by darkness.
    2) I do not like the color, font or left adjusted positioning of the title, nor the blood. I'd suggest a thick font (like on many of Joe's covers) because that also communicates the thriller genre
    3) I like the subtittle and suggest keeping "thriller" there, since it removes all doubt about genre and may help search engines
    4) I don't like the flair
    5) I think it works better to stick to one color temperature -- all warm (reds, yellows) or all cool (blues, purples). Don't mix red type on a blue background, it risks being garish. In this case, I'd keep the blue scheme of the picture.

    Tara Mayaa

  24. Thanks, Taya! I've actually had some changes made already. http://sjharrisbooks.blogspot.com/


  25. It's a beautiful photograph, for starters. It looks mysterious to me, but more moody and atmospheric than the thriller the words suggest. I think you would get more sense of a thriller if the lighting in the woods was yellow tinged with red, rather than blue, for a more threatening, firelike light rather than the cool, almost soothing light here.