Somehow, I’m going to have to figure out how to get other people’s opinions on my cover designs. I need to do a poll or something, in a place where I can get more than a response or two. I guess that probably means Facebook, but eh, that gets complicated, too.
This, however, is cover design number 3, and yes, I am starting to enjoy the cover creation process a little too much. I made it in Powerpoint, using a public domain photograph of lightning. I cropped and rotated the photo, so I could keep the palm trees and put the lightning on the left, and then tweaked. I think I enhanced the brightness by +20, and did something to the contrast, then nudged the color to the cooler side. I wanted to bring the green of the palm trees out and make the lightning look a little more magical than it did.
I then spent an endless time playing with the text and the fonts. Powerpoint does not exactly have the best font tools, and I didn’t go absolutely insane in the way I would have if I were a real designer. (To wit, the G in Ghosts is too far away from the H, in my opinion, but in Powerpoint, I would have needed to make them separate text blocks to nudge them together, and I was not quite willing to go that far. Six text blocks were quite enough.)
I took a quote from a review on fictionpress that was from someone who reviewed only at Chapter 33, figuring that review was for the whole thing, not just a piece of it. I didn’t want to be misleading by using a review that was just for a chapter. Maybe if and when I actually get ready to publish, I’ll ask a couple people for reviews that I could put on the front page. It’s not possible to read the quote on the thumbnail, I don’t think, which is a pity. But I suppose I can use a bigger image that then gets turned into a thumbnail? I’ll have to figure that one out.
I’m still trying to refrain from revising until December, but I have definite ideas about some big changes toward the ending. I think I’m going to try not to go crazy on most of it, though. These are just words 300,000-360,000, and if I get too obsessed with achieving perfection, it’ll join my first novel (oh, book of many names) in spending the next decade on my hard drive.
I really like this cover, though. I think for me, it’s definitely jumped ahead of both 1 and 2.
Time for revenge! Just kidding. The colors are nice, though I can’t say much about the overall aesthetic without knowing what the book is about. The only thing that strikes me as unconditionally out of whack is the fern: what’s that got to do with ghosts? The typeface is a little “girly.” Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe it’s an enchanting story, as opposed to a horror or otherwise disturbing supernatural suspense piece. If so, maybe you’re bang on the money.
The fern is actually a palm and it's the setting: the heroine moves to Florida (from California) in the first chapter and the climactic scene takes place in a typical Florida in August late afternoon thunderstorm (we have them almost every day in August). That's why the lightning, too. And girly is perfect! Yay! (It's a romance. With ghosts, but really, mostly a romance.) The thing I most like about the cover after staring at it for a while is the way the image looks both unreal, from the colors around the lightning, and photo-real, with the palm. My heroine is a physicist, very matter-of-fact, thinks ghosts are simply a form of energy for which there is a rational explanation, but yet her life is filled with ghosts and auras and the things that make no scientific sense. I'm not sure anyone else will ever get the way the cover blends the two, but I do. And now, just in case you didn't subscribe to comments, I'm going to wander over to your blog and talk about line length. 🙂
Let me come back with some aesthetics. Here’s why the palm throws me. It’s not so much the photorealism as the contrasting symbolism of the two main elements in the image. On the one hand, a streak of lightening is loaded with symbolism (especially when you treat it with effects); a palm branch is just not. Yet these two single elements (as single contrasting elements) stand in opposition to one another. Do you see what I mean? If you want a sacred vs. profane contrast, I think the symbolic element (the lightening) should intrude upon a mundane scene (as opposed to a single contrasting element), maybe a beach or a row of cottages or even a row of palms. That way you avoid the strange juxtaposition.
Oh, if we're going to go ideal world the cover would be very different! I mean, I'd probably put a couple on it, in order to make it immediately clear that it's a romance, and the setting would be a white farmhouse style house and/or an old Victorian house with a turret room, and there'd be a ghostly boy in the background. It would probably have the fairy-tale feel of a Japanese animation, like Totoro or Kiki's Delivery Service or Howl's Moving Castle.But I'm not in the ideal world of cover designs, where I have lots of money to buy artwork and a handy-dandy designer at my side to mix elements. My resources are limited. Really limited! Thanks for the feedback, though!
Don't sweat it too much. It's a good cover, and I doubt it will put anyone off. You've got to remember the context: you're competing with a million butt-ugly covers that look like they were done by angry eight-year-old boys.