Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Secret Language of Crows by Thea Atkinson

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. Crows have always seemed sad to me, in a creepy sort of way. But the feather is such a lovely shade of blue that it gives me hope that there may indeed be a way out for the heroine.

    This cover makes me think of New Orleans, modern voo-doo, and a family with dark secrets.

    Now watch....I'll be waaaaay off!

    (chuckle) This is fun!

  2. It reminds me of a text book; the layout, colors, fonts, it all screams text book to me, which makes me turn the other way as quickly as I possibly can, which, thankfully, is only one click on my end :)

    just my humble opinion...

  3. i love this cover... in part because the blue feather is so rich, almost like frosting mounded here and there. Striking colors would make me take a look-see.


  4. The dimensions of the book cover are not fiction dimensions, so my first thought is that this is nonfiction. I like the colors, the font, the image and the tag line, "Olivia needs...."

    The second tag line, although it does do a good job of suggesting genre, might actually be overkill; "dark literary fiction tale" sounds amateurish. If it is literary fiction, the custom is to simply write, "a novel" somewhere on the cover. Alternatively, here, "a dark tale" might work.

    I think two things would improve this cover: (1) Elongate it to proper fiction dimensions (6x9) allowing just a bit more darkness between the feather and the title. (2) change the second tag line to just read "a novel"; (3) center the author's name.

    Overall, I consider this an attractive and strong cover.

  5. Hm, I mentioned two things, but listed three. This proves I was forced to write fiction because I cannot do basic math.

    What I actually wanted to add was that I love the title. It's so evocative, that alone makes me want to learn more.

  6. First, let me say that I like the idea of using a feather on the cover.

    "Fiction Tale" sounds redundant to me. It's the same as saying Fiction Novel. I'd go with "A Dark Tale". Also the placement of "A Dark Literary Fiction Tale" is odd. It should be underneath the title (where the current tagline is) and not underneath the name of the author.

    The tagline isn't working for me. It is very confusing. "Olivia needs an escape, but does going home..." It seems to me that people usually escape FROM wherever it is they call home but Olivia escapes BY going home...

    It is also way too enigmatic. "...Offer her a way out or a way deeper in?" A way in or out of what? I understand not wanting to give out too much information right there on the cover, but this is too little. I need to know a bit more of what the stakes are here. After reading this tagline, I am still as clueless as ever about the essence of this story.

    Also, I'd suggest moving the tagline down a little, decreasing the font size so it will barely cover the feather and making it left justified.

    Although I like the title, I'm not sure about the font used on it. It's a very technical book kind of font.

    Overall, this cover isn't quite working for me in it's current version.

    My comments were made with the intent to help. Hopefully the author will see it that way!


  7. remove the text underneath the title and the supporting text informing readers of the genre -at the moment you're trying to put too much information for your reader on the cover and its cluttering up your image to the extent that its in overload.
    Is there a reason your name doesn't have Capital letters for the Christian and Surname as author?
    The main image is good and highly detailed but lacks the compelling draw to hook -there are some truly awesome images of crows online that make them look very dark and mysterious creatures that might offer a more compelling draw, I like the use of strong colour against the black but at the moment you have several elements fighting for the same space so I'd be ruthless and try to refine it.

    Good Luck

  8. Love the title, but I agree with some of the others that the cover is too busy. Keep the title, followed by "a novel," and then the author name. That's all you need, I think.

  9. I like it a lot but agree with the comments on "a dark literary fiction tale" - I understand the use of those key words there, but I don't think the average reader will. I don't think the message is lost by cutting the line entirely because the essence of it is in your "Olivia needs..." line.

    Typographically, it's a bit busy with three fonts (even tho two are closely related). Having the footer left set while the rest is centered creates an unpleasant visual tension.

    center Thea Atkinson and put it in the same font and weight as "The Secret Language"

    if you leave it yellow (a nice touch), maybe put the "Olivia needs..." line in yellow too so that the use of the yellow becomes a unifying theme from top to bottom.

    other ideas:
    what if you put Thea Atkinson at the top, followed by the "Olivia needs..." line and then used The Secret Language of Crows as a foundation? I dont know .. i'm squinting my eyes and trying to imagine it. I think the yellow author name followed by the white cover text would work ok there.

    All these ideas for a cover that I basically like ... sheesh .. sorry about that, Thea.

  10. Interesting...I didn't realize that was a feather until I read the comments. At first I thought it was a draped coffin. Then I wasn't sure what it was. Feather never entered my mind. If the feather was black (symbolizing a crow) or if the title was "The Secret Language of Blue Birds" then I might've figured out it was a feather.

    I also agree to remove the tag-line under the title. Put "A Novel" there and nothing under the author's name. I don't really care if the author's name is capitalized or not -- goes to artistic freedom, I suppose.

  11. The size of the cover brings up a couple of questions. Is this an ebook? If so, does it matter if it looks like a printed book cover?

    The variance in size could make it stand out from all the other cover images in a list. That may not be a bad thing.

  12. I'm going to guess this is dark literary fiction. :)

    The font change for your name isn't working for me; it clashes with everything else. I'd prefer it be the same font as the title.

    The feather image doesn't give me any feel for the story; that burden is carried entirely by the two tag lines. I'd like to see the feather and the tag lines go away and be replaced with an image or design that suggests the tag line concepts without telling us. For some reason they have me thinking of Andrew Wyeth's painting, Christina's World ( I don't know what your book is about, and I'm not suggesting this as a literal interpretation. It's more an example of the sort if image that tells me, literary fiction, and captures the sense of the "Olivia needs to escape . . ." line.

    The current cover suggests a primary design concern was budget, but it might be worth looking for a stock photo that could capture the essence of the first tag line while avoiding looking like a genre piece. The right image could draw me into taking a look at the book. I'm not sure I would notice the current cover in a list of search results.

  13. Here are the recommendations I have. Take 'em or leave 'em, up to you. Smiley

    1. I would center the author's name. It seems a bit off near the left there.
    2. I'd remove the current tag line and 'a dark literary fiction tale'. You could elaborate on the current tag line in the back cover blurb.
    3. Put the author's name all the way to the bottom.
    4. Change the tag line to "a [genre] novel", where [genre] is the one-word description, such as "a horror novel", "a suspense novel", etc. Two words if necessary "a paranormal romance novel" if you must.
    5. There may be more than two fonts at play here, but I can't tell exactly. I'd recommend making sure that you use no more than two fonts for the front cover, with the same style applied uniformly to each font. (So, if you have Times New Roman in three places, each one would have "Bevel, Stroke, and Drop Shadow" or whichever styles you are using.) More than two can be distracting unless done very well.

    Good luck!

  14. I have no idea what this is about by the feather, and after reading all the text around the cover, I'm not too interested. Escape what? In or out of what? Dark fiction - sounds depressing. Sorry.

  15. A blue crow's feather? That conveys nothing to me. I never saw a blue crow and wouldn't find one scary. The log line doesn't seem to connect to the title either. The whole thing just lost me I'm afraid.

  16. I like the blue feather. Very nice. Genre is easy, since it tells us.

    I'm not a fan of the wordiness of the cover, though. The blurb feels too long. Also, the descriptor on the bottom advertising it as a dark literary fiction tale feels wordy and even unnecessary.

    Still, nice feather. ;)

  17. Ok, here goes:

    I like the feather as an image, BUT...

    Too much text - title and author, MAYBE "a novel" in there.

    Too many fonts and font colors. All the same font is best. Thriller-types can get away with some shifts, and you may change things for one word to be highlighted, but otherwise, all the same font. The title may be a different color than the author name, but only when the title gets the more vibrant color. You're selling your title - James Patterson can get away with highlighting his name, since he's James Freaking Patterson. You can't The title is more important than your name until you have sold enough to prove otherwise.

    Centering. Is. Awful. Please correct.

    Ok, the title font size: Look at your title like this, and see if this is what you meant...
    The Secret Language OF CROWS
    'of' is not important enough to be emphasized. However, it is awkward to have a line end with 'of', so I suggest
    The Secret Language
    of (centered and very, very small)
    CROWS (wider to fill the space)

    Experience has shown me that customers prefer an aspect ratio similar to a book. Either narrow your image or make it taller. 6x9 is a good size to reach for.

    Your feather image does a great job in leading off the page, and it is an enticing image. However, on the left of the image, I'm seeing a lot of white between feather strands, and it makes the image look rushed. The other problem I'm having? Crows don't have light-colored feathers. You might do better with a black feather on a smoky gray background in order to have similarity to the title. The touch of flare on the feather is a nice touch.

    These few changes, and this cover could be a solid A-. :) Keep going!!!


  18. Actually the feather in negative worked for me. the blue wash says "night time"

    I got *no* problem with that

  19. Hey folks:

    So much thanks for critiquing this for me. I was in the middle of adjusting the cover because I just didn't like it. At first, I kind of liked the feather, but the cover never conveyed the genre to me. I read each one of these posts and agreed with almost everything. I think I've made some significant improvements: the first of which was size. I had no idea of the ratio and that was a big help.