Friday, March 30, 2007


As we attempt to push the poor P.O.D. authors and small presses to raise their standards, it becomes necessary to deal pointedly with an issue that has plagued many a recently reviewed book here at PODLINGS...
Ugly, unprofessional covers can do more for killing the scraps of attention your book might get in an online market than just about anything else.
Why? Because it is the first and potentially last thing people will see of your book. Do you think you can't judge a book by its cover? Consumers do it everyday and all to often that judgment is accurate. So, we'd like to site some examples along with comments about what makes them good or bad to give you, the self publishing author or small press owner, some food for thought when obtaining your next book cover design--you know...when you get around to fiddling with the photoshop software you bought to produce your own modern art masterpiece, despite the fact you haven't even read the instruction manual.
Below are some small press to self published covers along with their strengths and/or weaknesses...are you taking notes?

This cover from Velluminous Press in the U.K. may appear simple, but notice that there is actually quite a bit of detail. The background is sort of like an old worn parchment and that big detailed eye, with lids formed from the background material, instantly captures your attention. These elements combined with the odd title, give you no idea about the story within, but you just can't help but be curious about it.

This cover from Breakneck Books Publishing has alot going on: A forboding castle set with appropriate shadowing when compared to the dusky sky above, an armored hand weilding a vortex of power, and the dark knight on the back. Notice how the cover text is all positioned correctly and the different text styles all compliment one another. Everything says, "Professional." If you're thinking, yeah they paid big bucks for that cover. You'll be surprised to know that the owner of Breakneck designed these covers personally, albeit not without some artistic background.

Now, see if you can spot the small press from the self published efforts!!

If you were paying attention, then you should have noticed a great deal more depth and character to those self published or small press covers which have put forth considerable effort to accomplish one goal: "Become indistinguishable from books on bookstore shelves!" This is but one of the few key hurdles you face as POD authors to being taken more seriously by the mainstream publishing industry.


Saipan Writer said...

This is a good topic. I'd like more discussion, though, about what works and why. Also, how about some covers that don't work and your comments on them?

And for the visual-design impaired, there's a wonderful little book called THE NON-DESIGNER'S DESIGN BOOK by Robin Williams (B&N had it featured in one of their free on-line courses). It offers four basic design principles helpful for anything-from invitations to menus to programs and posters, and of course-book covers.

podlingmaster said...

For some badly done covers just look at some of the past review posts...of course there are some good ones as well. I'm not sure it's really a black and white issue, though. "Is the final rendering engaging to the eye?" That is the question!