The Art of the Not-so-good Cover

Still judging books by their covers? Too right. A major online book promoter sends out a newsletter two or three times a week promoting mostly indie-published books. Some of the covers are solid creative gold. Some reveal the art of the not-so-good cover. Here’s just a handful from November…

Note: we haven’t read any of these and the authors have multiple writing credits in single or multiple genres.

Cataclysm of the Ancients coverYou can’t miss Si Rosser’s titling for Cataclysm of the Ancients. Sadly it’s the cracked stonework effect in the typeface that drags the cover from ‘spot-on pulp genre’ to ‘not quite top of the pyramid.’ It’s a classic over-doing of something that could have ‘popped’ by being left well alone.

Health Reformation coverJ.N. de Bedout switches genre from gloriously-covered historical-oriental adventure. Health Reformation looks like a Michael Crighton sci-fi-medical thriller. The cover is a glaring, unreadable mess of block type around five graphic ideas completely not stitched together.

Hole Punch coverSimilarly Garth Simmons’ Hole Punch is a stylised, abstract collage that might point to dystopian sci-fi; but who’s sufficiently attracted to this ugly mess to find out?

The Divine Message coverThe Divine Message by African evangelist Gbenga Ezekiel Oladosu features a literal hotline to God. It’s a cover that could have come straight from the 1970’s. While retro-styling done well can work, this doesn’t.

How to Get Secret Money coverAndre Camp has clearly been reading some Internet marketing books: How to get Secret Money – by Offering Tent Camping. Not just a comedically anti-climatic subtitle, but the cover image has nothing to do with either secret money or camping. No idea what Mr Camp was thinking.

Fork in the Road cover“Hmm, what shall I do at this Fork in the Road,” thinks the young lady on the cover. Assuming this is the same writer/producer/director Danial Donai, this cover is a failure on so many levels. Crucially, there’s no clue as to what the book is about. Mystery? Thriller? Self-help? Memoir? Second, we can’t see much of the posed young lady. Third, that’s a dirt track not a fork. Fourth, it has to be one of the worst photos since.. well, our final cover in this batch.

Secrets of Riverbottom Road coverThe Secrets of Riverbottom Road by C.G Haberman. Possbily the most boring photo in history. We had to find out more. The full cover is a single photo wraparound for the paperback edition. Neither half of the photo works front or back as its tarmac and some bushes. The whole photo together: utterly terrible. Again, no clue as to the genre of this book. Worse still, if you go read the blurb on the back, you still won’t know what this thing is: mystery, thriller, suspense, literary fiction, memoir?

Make no mistake, good covers are hard to achieve. Even moderately average covers demand both creative ideas and some graphics skills. Above all, they need a critical eye and some self-awareness.

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  1. Pingback: Poor Cover Design Choices - Proactivity Press

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