Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Lousy Book Cover Examination

I agonize over book covers.

I recently read a post from a writer that said that a writer needs to hire someone to design their book covers. That's all well and nice if you can afford to do it. In fact, if you can afford to do it I encourage you to do so.

But there are writers like me who simply can't, so we have to design our own. We take pictures, search for free images, download fonts, and play around with whatever programs we have on our computer, usually Microsoft Word or Open Office.

We do what we can with what we have. It does not mean that we don't care about our work. It means that we're poor.

So it's bound to happen that horror of horrors, there are bad book covers out there among the self-published.

It's also bound to happen that there's a website that posts those bad book covers.

And it's also bound to happen that the authors of those books get irate and scream copyright violation.

Which is stupid.

When you put out a book, you have to show the cover. The purpose of this is to encourage people to buy the book. You leave yourself open to bad reviews, and mocking. There is nothing you can do about this. In fact it might be argued that being on a website like Lousy Book Covers brings attention to your book, especially since the owner of the website links to your amazon account enabling people to buy the book. That is a good thing - even if your book cover is being mocked. It is certainly not a copyright violation to have someone post your book cover. You wouldn't complain if they gave you a rave review while they posted it, you can't then complain if it isn't the positive experience you want it to be.

I actually find the website Lousy Book Covers (note I linked to it twice) to be helpful. It's good to see the bad as well as the good. Now no one is saying these books themselves aren't good. There may be some gems there although some of the titles need help as well.

I am by no means a designer, but I liked looking at the covers and seeing what not to do. So I thought I would put up examples here and examine what went wrong. I am also linking to the amazon account so that you can buy the book if you so desire. I have no idea what the books are about and I'm not recommending them, but it's only fair that if I'm pointing out the book that there should be a link.

It was hard to choose, there were so many.

This is something like Finding Carmen Sandiego. Where's the title and the author? It's there, but you have to go on a search for it.

Okay this is from first grade where you cut out pictures from magazines and made a collage. Now there's nothing wrong with putting different images together, but it shouldn't look like a six year old did it. It actually looks a bit like a commercial for Good Year tires. I think it's Good Year tires. It's that tire guy who is made of tires. See they're really good for traveling in the Rockies in the winter.

Bad artwork. In fact it seems the majority of the bad book covers are done by the same three twelve year olds.

By the way, why is that guy feeling that girls breast? Even if that happens in the book (which I have no idea if it does) it's probably not a good idea to put it on the cover. And how come she has perfect posture while he's carrying her but she can't hold up her head? And is there a wind to make her hair blow that way?

Okay, so the actual cover isn't bad. The picture is pretty, the design is fine (hey that rhymes). It would make a nice cover for a Mother's Day book, or a poetry book, or inspirational quotes.

But this book is about an Al-Qaida bomber.


It kind of helps if the cover gives a hint of what's going on. Even if the cover is basic black and has no graphics that would be better than the mixed message here. Does the bomber write poetry about his mother?

Another 12 year old's art project.

From what I gather the cowboys and Indians who are flying the planes and sailing the ship are fighting over the frog having a nap on the surfboard.

And just to be sure we do know what book's genre is it's stated right on the cover. "An action-adventure, science-fiction, suspense, thriller, comedy, love story."

Which doesn't explain the frog. Seems to me that sunbathing surfing frogs who wear hats and carry canes belong in the fantasy/juvenile/fairy tale genre.

Is it possible that the frog is a cowboy frog or an Indian frog? In that case shouldn't it wear a cowboy hat, or a feather headband, or a Bollywood outfit (depending on what kind of Indian we're talking about here).

I am so confused.

It's obviously a cook book because they put food on the cover.

I always wanted a cook book that explained all about slicing tomatoes.

Doesn't this make you want to run out and buy it?

Every Christian needs a chainsaw.

I did not know that.

I had better hurry and get mine. I don't have one. I might be left out of heaven without it.

Who knew that the chainsaw massacre guy had it right all the time.

Now can we talk about the ugly colors.

Unlike the first example where you have to find the title, this author wants to be sure that you all know what the title of the book is. It's printed on the cover twice. And to make room for it, he had to squish up the pictures and make everyone misshapen. And to make sure it's all about witch hunts he repeated the phrase twice within the title. So that's four times the phrase "witch hunt" is used.

I guess this book is about a witch hunt.

I'm wondering if it's anything like my Witches Brew Ha-Ha, who are green witches with long noses.

What happened to his leg!

Did the dog bite it off?

Is it Texas' fault that this cowboy has no leg?

To be fair, the link will lead you to a cover that isn't quite so traumatizing.

So many fonts, so little time. I just can't decide which one I like best. I know! I'll try them all! And while I'm at it, I'll post the first chapter right on the cover!

I apologize for the lack of a link on this one. I think the author was so ashamed she went into hiding.

Can't say I blame her.

There's a gopher museum in Alberta where they dress up stuffed gophers and pose them in various positions. Weddings, funerals, golf tournaments, rock bands. This particular one is part of the southern belle series where Lincoln was president and living in a tree and slaves were tanned white male models.

I certainly hope my book covers are better.


Marsha Ward said...

Hahahahahaha! Thanks for the belly laugh!