Critique Corner: DIY or Professional

Spread the love



Can't afford a designer? Consider a cover critique...

Many new authors think they can't afford to hire an accomplished, trained designer for their books cover. Fair enough. If you want a professional cover, created by a designer with education, skill, experience, and a good reputation, that doesn't come free. (Money well spent though, and worth every penny!)

My advice to new authors is to start saving the day you start writing. Because, after all, you know it's going to need a cover…

But let's say you didn't happen to run into me last year when you started. And now, you are ready to let your baby out into the world, for all the universe to love and adore! YIKES! You can't let that baby go out there NAKED!

But you haven't saved, so you feel you have to do the work yourself. Maybe not the best idea, because let's face it, you're a writer, not a designer. Right!? But, it's got to have a cover so, you give it a go.This is where I come in. I'd like to help you, free of charge, by offering a cover critique on my new blog. Show me what you have and I promise an honest, kind and constructive insight into how you might make the cover better before you display it to the world.

My goal is to help YOU, the self published author trying to create their own cover, with advice and helpful tips that can make your efforts shine just a little bit better. In the meantime, my readers and followers will get the advantage of the advice too.

Cover Critique for author, Robin E. Mason.

Covers for Critique


I'd like to include two covers, one professional and one mine. I would like to see if you can tell which is which, and your thoughts on both

~ Robin



Critique corner by Tamian Wood:

Thanks for sharing Robin. My guess would be that the one with the trees is the DIY cover. (If I'm wrong, I'd be very surprised.) So, lets start with this one.


The title font is pretty dated. The name of it escapes me at the moment, but it was popular in the 90s. And the trouble is, it's so thin and white that it doesn't stand out against the busy background. The image is ok for conveying the feeling of the title 'cause you could imagine wind whipping through those branches, but it does make for some wicked difficult typesetting. If you are married to this image, the problem might be solved by making the title larger and stacked and dropping in a white gradient that went from transparent to opaque, subtly, so that the title area is less busy.


Next, you really should only have one decorative font. The series font is usually an italic of a very readable font. Mostly because it's generally smaller, and needs to be read. And finally, don't be shy about being the author. Fill that space.


By comparison, note that the title on the second book, while thin and swirly and lovely, has nothing to compete with it with regards background. Not sure I would have used black as it's so stark, but it works. Nice contrast. The iconography is clean and simple. The subtitle is a readable italic, and the author name fills the space. Again, not sure I would have gone with stark black, or stacked the sub on three lines, but it works. One other thing to note, it is essentially a white book, but it has a soft gradient colour around the edges that make it stand out on a white background. That's a pro move. Nicely done.


A quick, down-and-dirty revamp of the DIY cover:
Now I'm not suggesting this is the font for you, (I just grabbed one) or the colour even, but see what a difference it makes in the readability. Zoom out to see what it looks like as a thumbnail. On my quick down-and-dirty sample, you can still read the words. That might be what's killing your sales.


I hope that's helpful Robin,

To be continued...

Tamian Wood
Graphic Designer
Beyond Design International
Video Trailer:



If you'd like some honest, kind and constructive insight, contact me and let's collaborate.