Critique Corner: Sex, Suspense and Satire

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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.
So... Here goes:

Cover Critique for author, Dawn M. Barclay.

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Here's a link to Dawn's Amazon page:

Elevator speech: What if people were dying around you and you weren't absolutely sure you weren't their murderer? Someone is ‘deactivating’ the Realtors in Rock Canyon and almost no one seems to care.... read more

Genre: Sex, Suspense and Satire--Expired Listings masterfully combines all three while exploring the universal need for validation and the toxic nature of revenge.



Critique corner by Tamian Wood:

Over all, Dawn, nicely done. I was drawn to read the blurb, which is EXACTLY what you want. It's clean and uncluttered, with a strong symbology. It definitely has sex appeal. And, while the image itself doesn't specifically read suspense/revenge, your subtitle gives the reader that clue right away....

I just wish the sub title were a bit larger, and somewhere else on the page. Up there above her lip... it's reading a smidgy bit like a tiny moustache.

You could solve this by scaling the face down just a bit smaller, to give you more breathing room. {No pun intended, and no nose required} Then make your title a bit less tall, (adjust the vertical scale) drop sub title in underneath the title, and Bob's your Uncle. It might seem like it's going to be bottom heavy, but I think those lips will balance it out. Plus, with a slightly smaller face, the key's will show more.

Next, It's always best to keep your font count to a minimum. Best to stick with two font families if possible. I'm not a fan of your choice of font for the by line, and that candy effect is only busying up an otherwise sleek looking cover. If you chose a font that was slightly less tall, it would leave more room for your sub title. You might try using the same font as your subtitle (thereby reducing the # of fonts) and one of the lighter pinks from the lips, with a small, dark brown drop shadow.

Two more minor, but important details to watch for that will help this look a bit more professional... Watch your margins. You shouldn't get your text closer than .25 inch from any edge. And finally, be careful of kerning. (the space between the letters) Note how the A in BARR looks farther from the B, but it's running into the R? And notice how the . after D is farther apart than the . after M. These are picky details, but they do polish up the look of things.

I know that seemed like a lot, but I really do like this cover. With a bit of polish, it could be even better.
Thanks so much for being my first contributor. I hope that wasn't too painful.
Kind regards,

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.