Overthinking A Book Cover: Disaster!

If you’re a writer, you’re not expected to be a designer.

Hell, you shouldn’t even try to be a designer.

Pay the money for a real cover!

Would you go out into the world if your face was horribly disfigured? A bad book cover is like that. It prevents people from seeing the beauty inside.

It doesn’t take much to do a compelling, interesting cover, as you’ll see after the break.

So, if you’re too damn cheap to respect your readers with a good cover and still want to do your own, heed the following!

Two brilliant covers using simple geometric shapes.

Most self-published covers looks like this:

Jaysus! And you know what the real tragedy of that cover is? It’s for Ken Bruen, who’s a long-time professional writer of crime fiction. His other books have had covers like this:

I don’t know what’s going on with his new publisher — and that’s from a book publisher, not Bruen trying his hand at covers! — but they’re making Bruen look bad.

And let that be a lesson to all of you: A simple cover is an effective cover.

Take a hammer to your hand when you see it clicking that Photoshop icon. Use that hammer on your head if you find yourself thinking, Ooh, airbrushing! And buy some goddam display typefaces! How many others are using the same ones over and over again? Everyone!


The Book Design Review


Filed under Book Creation

10 responses to “Overthinking A Book Cover: Disaster!

  1. clarekirkpatrick

    Ok, maybe I’m having a sense of humour failure, but this sentence: “Would you go out into the world if your face was horribly disfigured?” is unbelievably offensive! Do you really think ‘horribly disfigured’ people should stay at home?

    • mikecane

      Most people would not go out, being disfigured like that. That’s not to say they shouldn’t.

      • clarekirkpatrick

        Sure, but you’re suggesting people change their book covers to look better, and including a sentence like that suggests that’s what you think. FWIW, I’m sure you didn’t mean that, but I thought you might like to know that that’s how it reads. Maybe change it to ‘would you go out if your t-shirt was filthy?’? Feel free to delete my comment if you want to :)

      • mikecane

        I did think that sentence might touch some people off, but given the subject matter at hand, I think people understand the point I was making.

        >>>Maybe change it to ‘would you go out if your t-shirt was filthy?’

        This is NYC. That wouldn’t work. And I’ve gone out with a shirt with a big rip on its back. From wear, not as fashion.

  2. Left unsaid here is that most people see covers these days as tiny thumbnails. The Ken Bruen covers you like aren’t as legible at small sizes as the one you don’t like, or am I wrong?

    Typefaces are still important, but less so at 150 pixels wide. Then again, it might just be a matter of taste. I care more about color fields than anything else. The fact that the newest Bruen cover comes from the publisher is a good point: presumably they DID hire a professional designer, but I don’t like that one any more than you do—even if it does resemble my own designs, har.

  3. Need to look back to the days of vinyl records, the efforts put into album covers. Physical Graffiti by Led Zeppelin springs to mind.

    Bottom line: Book publishers are lowlifes, never been cool, no sense of style.

    …Or that’s how I view them now.

  4. You post this just when I was thinking: ‘hey, I made a new cover, let’s send it to Mike Cane and see what he thinks!’

    Thing is, I did study graphic design and photography.

    We’re all broke in this modern world, therefore, we want to make things ourselves and save money. BUT you have to browse, read, get to know what works and what doesn’t. I look at thousands of examples before even thinking on making a design, any kind of design.

    Thanks for those examples, love the geometric shapes. They remind me of that golden rule most people tend to forget: keep it simple, stupid!

  5. Keishon

    re Bruen cover, now that’s a book cover I wouldn’t mind the publisher hanging onto for the digital copy. Just saying. Give us the title page please.

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