Judging a book by its cover – the sequel

existentialcrisisThis is me having an existential crisis.

A few days ago I put my carefully designed book cover on public display on this blog and it was ripped to pieces. Well, I did ask for frank feedback and I got it. Thanks to Aamil in particular for kicking the crap out of every single design element – fonts, capitalisation, text, everything.

This was a very valuable experience, because I realised that I had been thinking wrongly about how to market my book. It’s not a serious book (although it covers some very deep and meaningful topics) but a comedy. And the cover needs to show that it’s a farce. So I studied book covers in Amazon’s humor category and I have designed a new cover:

theyogasutrasMore comments please!


31 responses to “Judging a book by its cover – the sequel

  1. I liked the serpent (though that cover was somewhat out of balance — I’m not trained well enough to have known quite how). But this suits humor much better. Your name is a little lost in the leaves at the bottom. A different color would help that, maybe the same orange that outlines the title. I expect you’ll get other comments more helpful than mine. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. The beheaded face distracts from the face of the lady in blue. Is there a dark cloaked figure sitting behind her? I like the shade of green. The whole thing gets my attention.

  3. I’m not sure if my opinion counts for anything but I liked it….it was different ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. What can I say? I liked the first cover better. It looked professional and it drew me in, piqued my curiosity. This one, to me, anyway, looks amateurish, like it was completed as part of a high school art project. I think, were I to actually buy a book solely by its cover, I’d be more likely to go with the other cover.

    Having said that, though, the first cover gave me the impression that I’d be reading a serious novel…mystery, intrigue, suspense. A thriller, perhaps. This second cover does convey something more comedic.

    • Thanks. I think that the first cover would have been perfect for a crime thriller about Chinese gangs. Unfortunately that is not what my book is about. Browsing the humor section on Amazon, I noticed that most of the covers feature illustrations, not photographs, and they are often quite cartoonish in style. That seems to be how comedy is conveyed visually.

      • Well, the obvious answer is to rewrite your book so that it is, in fact, a crime thriller about Chinese gangs. Then you’d be all set.

        I agree that a cartoon (or cartoonish style) might better convey a humorous or comedic book. I’m just not crazy about the one you displayed. I still think it looks rather amateurish. But hey, that’s my personal opinion, nothing more. And it’s your book, not mine. So, you know, whatever floats your boat, right?

        • Note to self – next time, design kick-ass cover first, then write book to match! As for floating the boat, I’m just praying it doesn’t sink.

  5. Be careful. This image may offend some who might otherwise have picked up the book.

    Best regards,

    • I am sensitive to this and have no intention of causing offence. If anyone is going to be offended, then I would rather they were offended by the cover and never read the book.

  6. Fan of Dickens

    It is interesting to read all these comments because I hadn’t had a chance to look at the first blog on this, so I saw this cover first, then looked at your previous cover. ( I judge a book by the reviews, not the cover, but if I have a choice of covers from different editions, I will go for the cover which attracts, as I did with a Margaret Atwood book once). The first one, the serpent, I thought was compelling because it conveyed a sense of your authorial voice; admittedly only perceived through your blog, not your novel writing yet, but nonetheless important to me at least. The iconic nature of the serpent is incredibly multi-faceted, used to convey myth, religion, metaphor and symbol; it covers and conveys so many meanings, so what better image to introduce the eclectic and broad-based nature of your writing to your reader? Of course, I haven’t read the novel yet, but I can scarcely imagine it is a one-joke book; I am sure it will be as rich as your other writing. In conclusion, I think the first design would do you justice as a writer. So looking forward to this book!

    • I also loved the serpent, as it has all the interesting qualities that you listed, and I thought it was a stunning image. Thank you for your abundantly kind words about my writing – hopefully the book can live up to that! It certainly is eclectic.

      One more question – you preferred the first cover, but would the second cover actually put you off the book?

  7. I’m actually fine with both covers, although now that you mention it, the first one did seem more serious. On the new cover, the author name seems a bit obscured.

    I also wonder about the conventional wisdom of how critical book covers are in e-book markets. There’s no doubt they were critical in the days when we were primarily looking at books on a bookshelf in the store, but I’m not as certain they’re as important today as I often hear said. Certainly a spectacularly bad or inappropriate cover might hurt sales, but it’s hard to imagine any passable cover having much of an effect one way or the other.

    I do know, like Fan of Dickens, that I primarily judge books by their description and reviews. But we might be outliers, and I’d probably be doing much the same thing if I was publishing a book, with the same anxiety.

    • I’m sure that reviews count a lot. Unfortunately my book doesn’t yet have any! As I am new to this I don’t know what matters, so like anyone would I am trying to do everything to the best of my ability.

      The cover does suggest the tone and style of the book, and this exercise reveals my ambivalence about the book – it is both a deeply personal and serious exploration of things that matter greatly to me, and also an absurd farce packed with jokes.

      My primary error was writing a book that doesn’t conform to any known genre ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  8. Fan of Dickens

    To answer your question, I am so sorry because I wanted to avoid saying anything negative as you seemed quite wounded, but I am afraid I wasn’t fond of the second cover and I probably would not have bought the book if I didn’t know it was you. I really don’t think it does your writing justice at all.

  9. The mint green background clashes. I’d go with a deeper shade of blue…or maybe beige.

  10. He’s right. It looks amateurish. Post a link for the first cover.

  11. Oh this is really good! I really like it ๐Ÿ™‚

    But as others have pointed out, your name is slightly lost among the leaves at the bottom.

  12. I think it’s rather good — certainly communicates the genre more clearly — my only criticism would be the rather brash palette but I know these colours are fashionable but personally I would be drawn to something more subtle but that might reduce the content message. Isn’t it gratifying that you are getting so much input — good luck!

    • Thanks, and if it communicates the genre clearly, that is probably the most important thing. I wanted it to be attention-grabbing too.

      The input to this process has been incredible and I really couldn’t have done this without everyone’s help.

  13. I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has contributed feedback to my book cover project – it has been enormously valuable.

    I have decided to go with the second version. It may not be to everyone’e taste, but it clearly communicates the humorous nature of the book and is in keeping with the yoga / spiritual enlightenment theme. I will make some small tweaks to the final design based on your input.

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