Critique Corner – Ghost Stories

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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, Raymond Walker

Here is my cover but to be honest I have not perfected the blurb yet. I have still a few months to go before beginning publication but my current blurb is;
It was, had been and still was raining, the humped stones of the cobbled square were slippery with the blustery torrents. The wind whipped between the old beige and red sandstone buildings that cornered me on three sides, the open side filled with an unremitting grey concrete wall against which the sea beat with relentless fury. I entered the bookshop and immediately felt comfortable, warm and at home. The antiquity, the comfort and welcome were instantly apparent; the haunting did not begin until night approached.



Critique corner by Tamian Wood:

Hi Raymond, Thanks so much for participating.
At first glance, I have to say, I like this cover. It’s sufficiently creepy for your ghostly genre, the eyes engage, and those claws… YIKES! (they grab you alright!). The font choice is classic and not too kitchy. The title and author name are a nice size to be seen at thumbnail, there’s good contrast, a nice balance and it’s not too busy. Really good job!
I did have a concern over the quality of the image. It seems a little pixelated. But that could just be because what you sent was a low rez screen shot. So long as the image is at least 300dpi at actual size (5×8? 6×9?) then you should be ok for print quality, should that be a goal at some point.
There are just a few tweeky things that I might suggest that could possibly make it POP just a bit more. First, the monochromatic black/greyscale colour scheme leaves it just a tad “warm”, believe it or not. If you added just a hint of blue to the image it would give it just the slightest bit of “frost” to the overall feel. To that end, perhaps adding a little blizzard effect to further drive that coldness factor. I did a quick little revamp to give you a visual. (Not my best “snow job,” but it was a quickie. If I were commissioned to do a cover, I’d spend a WHOLE lot more time making that snow look more believable.)
Note that I’ve enlarged your title and given it a deep blue/teal colour (instead of the stark black) that then washes away in spots with the texture of the blizzard. I think it’s here that DIY cover designers give themselves away by using solid, often primary, colours for their titling. Or, even worse, they get wild and crazy with the text effects. Keep it simple, but not completely flat.
I’ve moved your author name down in that lower area to give your title more room. And since the area isn’t too busy, the letters are holding their own in that section.
Finally, be sure to check your kerning (the space between the letters). See how the W and A in Walker seem too far apart. Check all the letters to make sure they appear to have the same distance. For instance, an A and a Y sitting next to each other will appear farther apart because of the opposing angles of the letter figures. Same with W and A. Other letters may look too close together, like the S and T in Ghost. This is another detail that many DIY designers overlook. The devil is in the details.
Thanks again for participating Raymond. If you use any of my suggestions, I’d appreciate credit as your consultant. 🙂
Best of luck with your project!

Tamian Wood
Graphic Designer
Beyond Design International
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If you’d like some honest, kind and constructive insight, contact me and let’s collaborate.