Sunday, May 24, 2009

Help Me Choose My Book Cover

by Libby Hellmann

My sixth crime fiction novel, DOUBLEBACK, will be published by Bleak House Books in October, and for me the most enjoyable part of the process is right now. With 4-5 months before the book is released, it's all possibility. The galleys are about to go out; promotion is underway; everything is still fresh and new. The struggle of slogging through the manuscript and revisions is forgotten; no reviews --disappointing or otherwise-- have come in; travel fatigue is just a concept. It’s much like the first day of school when you show up with new clothes, school supplies, and high hopes.

The only thing I’m uncertain about is the cover. I do know the right image (and font and colors) will grab readers. But I also know it’s subjective. What grabs me might not grab you. And I’m a writer -- not a designer or artist – so I really don’t know my ass from my elbow in terms of cover art. I was lucky with EASY INNOCENCE (its cover is on the right). I knew as soon as I saw the image that it needed – no had -- to be on the cover.

This time I’m not so sure. Below are some possible covers. I think the designer did a great job, and I like them all, but I’m not sure which is the most effective – each emphasizes different elements, sometimes subtly. So, can you help me out? Let me know which one(s) you like best and why. Both Bleak House and I will be listening -- the image with the most votes will indeed be the cover of the book.

Here’s what you need to know: DOUBLEBACK is a thriller that pairs both my series' protagonists, Ellie Foreman and Georgia Davis. It starts with the kidnapping of a little girl in Chicago but ends in Arizona near the US-Mexico border.

Now for the covers:


#1A and #1B





#2 (the sand will look different, more Sonoran, like #3 or #4, and the title will be more prominent)






















#3




















#4A and #4B





So, what do you think? Since this is a Chicago book -- at least in part-- you're welcome to vote early and often. Thanks!

72 comments:

Anne Frasier said...

Nice! I like 1A and 1B. I think 1A is favorite.

pabrown said...

I like 4A. It looks moody and aggressive. I like the color red.

Alan Orloff said...

I'll go with #3. I like the tilt.

And, as a completely unsolicited suggestion, maybe turn the two "B's" backward.

L.J. Sellers said...

Clearly, there are as many opinions as commentors. I like 4b. It seems to blend the two images (city/desert) best. It's also moody and mysterious.

Jen said...

I have to say, while I like them all, #3 really jumped out at me. That's my vote!

Roberta Isleib said...

definitely 1A Libby--and look how big your name is! You've come a long way baby:)

Lonnie Cruse said...

Libby

I vote for 1A and 4A. 3 (where the buildings are sort of sideways) made me dizzy. I love the orange in 1A. Good luck with it!

Anne Frasier said...

PS:

1A and 1B say big book. On second look, 1A is definitely my fav of the two.

3 is okay, but Libby's name is way too small.
2 is also okay. hard for me to imagine what it would look like with dif sand and larger title.

4A 4B -- pretty, but these will probably vanish on the shelves because of lack of definition. name is too small again.

Peg Nichols said...

Definitely #3, with the title on the slant. Hints at the great differences, psychological and geographical, of two different parts of the planet.

Peg Nichols said...

Definitely #3, with the title on the slant. Hints at the great differences, psychological and geographical, of two different parts of the planet.

Neil said...

1A really has the magic.

Gran said...

4A gets my vote. I like the color.

Lesa said...

Oh, you're in trouble, Libby. None of us like the same one. It's definitely a matter of taste. I like 2, with Sonoran sand and the title bigger. 4B would be my second choice, though.

I like 2 for the contrast, and I think you need the barbed wire fence. That says more than just the contrast between the city and the sand.

Good luck! Can't wait to see the final selection.

Lesa
http://lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com

pattinase (abbott) said...

1A for me. The sand blurs the grittiness for me.

Anonymous said...

I like 4 A best, 1 B second. The tilt/slant on #3 is too severe for me.

Libby Hellmann said...

Thanks, all. I appreciate the input.

You're right, Lesa. I'm in trouble. So far, though, consensus seems to favor 1A.

Keep em coming!

Julie Tollefson said...

4A is my favorite.

Bill Cameron said...

I find #3 the standout. Visual tension and dissonance with a strong presentation of the title. I like Alan's idea about flipping the B's as well.

Hope Clark said...

4B without a doubt grabbed my eye first.

Hope Clark
FundsforWriters.com

Christine Goff said...

I say 4A. The desert looks more like the AZ desert than any of the others. The other deserts look more Saharan than Sonoran. But I like the blend of Chicago and AZ, since the book takes place both places.

Maria said...

I hate 1a and 1b. Something about the red spooks me. 1b is better, but the colors scream at me. I am repelled.

I like the second one the best of all. Not sure about the sand, (I agree it would look better with Sonoran sand.) I like it.

Nothing wrong with 3; it's ordinary, but good. I'm not repelled.

4A and 4B...that orange/red color again...I initially thought I liked B better, but there are darker colors in A and I like the cactus. I guess the bottom line is that I don' really like either of them. I think it's the reddish color again that puts me off.

2 and 3 are the best.

Maria said...

Oh--I like the barbed wire fence in 2. That adds character and mood--and it just SAYS something.

Susan D said...

1a. The yellow and red together stand out.

As for the others, the split screens never appeal to me; it's like someone's trying to get too many different things into the shot.

Julie Krmer said...

I vote for #2...I would have suggested a bigger title...but see you already have that underway. I just find that cover more visually interesting.

Peg Brantley said...

4A. Barbed wire means prison to me and sand doesn't necessarily connote the Sonoran. But saguaros do.

Corey Wilde said...

1A or 1B, with a slight edge to 1A. And I like Alan Orloff's idea to reverse the Bs, only maybe just the second one.

Anonymous said...

I like #3

Diane said...

I like 4A best although I agree with others that your name should be bigger. Its looks a little different than the standard black/white/red/silver thriller scheme and I'd pick it up if I saw it on a rack.

Marie said...

It's so hard to decide. I would choose 4a. It looks like one of those covers you like to go back and examine when something odd or unexplained happens in a book. Not that covers do or should provide enlightenment, 4a looks like a cover worth examining.

(If the book were to be published as a paperback right off the bat, I'd switch to 1a for the graphic simplicity.)

I can't wait to read the book!

Kevin Guilfoile said...

I like 1A and 1B.

Anonymous said...

1A is my vote.

Anonymous said...

I'm voting for 4A or 4B.

The color schemes on 1A and 1B are reminiscent of Marcus Sakey's 1st two novels and 1B reminds me a little bit of Trigger City as well. It's not that the covers are bad, I'd just be looking to differentiate myself from other books in my genre.

I'm not crazy about #2 and the slant on #3 did not appeal to me, though I will say it might get some notice.

Hope that helps.

125records said...

Favorite: 4A. Least fave: 2.

Maryann Mercer said...

#4B, with a second choice of #4A. It just grabs me.

Doug R. said...

4A would be my choice, but none really thrill me. And I have to ask....What is with Bleakhouse and their covers? Are they getting their ideas for them from '60's and '70's movie credits? Has anyone seen the paperback cover for Craig McDonald's Rogue Males? This has to be the worst, I mean worst cover I have ever seen. The book is great, and deserves much better. (just so you know that my head is not totally up my ass, I worked in the book printing and design industry for over ten years and still do freelance graphic design)

Deane Edelman said...

4A leaves the least question about what you're looking at. Can't really tell in the others.

Anne said...

4A I think, but I'd consider making the cactus (that is, the size of each) mirror the city skyline.

Mark Henderson said...

4B: Appropriate colour scheme, contrasting illustrative images, simple design allowing title and author's name to stand out (I agree your name could be bigger!). All this correspondence corroborates your statement - tastes in cover design are subjective and they differ!

Libby Hellmann said...

Really interesting responses... looks like 4A has a slight edge over 1A, although they are both pretty popular. Some great suggestions too.. backward Bs, bigger name, etc. I love it! Thanks!

Omnimystery said...

3. Seems to convey more of the concept of the story than the others. It's also the only one that seriously caught my eye, I actually paused at while scanning the post, something I might do in a bookstore.

Jan Martin said...

I like 4A and 4B. Definitely am a fan of red, and both look like watercolor paintings.

J. D. said...

#3 is the clear winner. All the others are confusing. #3 with the diagonal between the sand and the city makes it clear there are 2 venues and what those are.

carl brookins said...

to be perfectly honest, which is not to say, truthie (gag) I'm not enamored of any of them but if waterboarding forced me to choose it would be #3

johnny dangerous said...

I'm digging 4A, with the way the skyline and cacti mirror each other and foreshadow the storyline. And this is one of the good things about a small press - authors often have a say in the cover design. I was consulted about my latest book cover (Sophia Institute Press) but not the previous two (with bigger houses).
John Desjarlais

Sean Chercover said...

1A for me. Definitely. Followed by 1B.

Lover of Books said...

I really like 2. It's different, and the cover makes me want to know more. :)

Timothy Hallinan said...

Hi, Libby --

Three is it for me. The most important question about a cover, for me, is, "Will it pop"? Will someone 20 feet away come closer to the book, maybe even close enough to pick it up and open it, at which point the cover designer's job is done and it's down to how well you (and I) have done. I think I'd spot the colors, the title slash, and the diagonal buildings in three from halfway across a store, even a chain store.

Picks By Pat said...

I'm partial to 4A. Seems relevant to the story. There are some great choices here.

Can't wait to see what lies between the covers!

Pete said...

1A is very visually striking, but it doesn't incorporate the desert at all. If you want both city and desert, I vote for 4A. The sand in the others is kind of vaguely illustrated, so much so that it's not clear that it's sand at all.

Julie Godfrey Miller said...

They are all good. Number 3 really got my attention.

Martine said...

It's 1A for me!

Judy Alter said...

I like either 1A or 4A. For one thing they both give you star billing--author above the title! And they both in bold colors with striking images. Can't decide between the two.

Sara said...

I have to go with 4A - City and desert both conveyed, and it leaves me with a curious and nervous feeling.

Congrats on the book - I will definitely pick it up as soon as I can!

Laura L. Cooper said...

At first glance, 1A, 3, and 4A stood out from the others. No matter what kind of sand is pictured on 2, running it up against the Chicago skyline doesn't make sense to me.

I find #3 to be the most visually appealing while clearly portraying two different settings. I like the suggestion of having the second "B" in the title facing backward. It could also look as if it is repeated like a strip of police tape. It might be worth making sure that the sand appears as if it could have come from Arizona.

Vicki Zwart said...

Definitely 4A - drew my eye right away. The red color is appealing along with the comparison to city, desert with cacti. 1A,1B too stark - harsh.

jennymilch said...

Hi Libby,

I like 4B best. I think it's haunting and subtle and intriguing. The others all suggest a gritty read to me, so if yours is--sort of noir-ish--then my vote may be off base. But I think 4B could be many things: a literary mystery, straight mystery, or even suspense, and hence might draw in the widest possible range of readers.

Good luck! It all sounds so exciting, and the book's premise is great--I will definitely look for it a few months down the
road.

My best,
Jenny (from DL)

Polly Iyer said...

I like 1A best. It's clean, vibrant, and dynamic. The sand change would have to be markedly improved, and I don't like the layout of the type. #3 tries too hard to be interesting and isn't, and the fours, to me, are muddy. Too bad I don't have an opinion.

garbovideo said...

1A or 4A. Both have a grab to them.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Put me down for 1B or 4A.

Bravegirl01 said...

1A for sure.

jnantz said...

I gotta go with 4A & 1B. I think I would have preferred #3 if the skyline had been up instead of on a diagonal, but who knows. However, I think if the fencing/wire image on 1A and 1B were a little less cartoonish, they would really say "big book" to me.

Anonymous said...

1A

Sean Chercover said...

You said we could vote "early and often" so I'm voting again.

1A. Again.

abbourgoin said...

1A. The yellow will stand out on the shelf and draw people in.

abbourgoin said...

1A. Again for good measure.

Susan said...

I like 4A the best.

Mags said...

4A is doin' it best for me. None of them aren't, though, so that's cool.

Sean Chercover said...

Did I mention 1A?

Malena said...

If I were browsing for a book and was judging just by the cover, I'd probably go for #2. It seems to suggest a story to me.
Good luck with your choice!

abbourgoin said...

Sean I must say I concur. I don't know if I mentioned that yet or not.

Libby Hellmann said...

Once again, thanks everyone for your thoughts and comments. It really helped! We've made a decision and will announce it (visually of course) soon!

J. Kingston Pierce said...

After seeing SO MANY split covers lately, I have to pass on options #3, #4A, and #4B. The colors in #2 look muddy to me, and my eye focuses primarily on the desert.

My favorite two options are the first two embedded here. I'd be happy to see either employed, but I think the sharp contrasts of #1B would work best when your novel is facing out on bookshelves.

Cheers,
Jeff