Christmas is just a few days away, or perhaps you are reading this after a post-holiday Google search. In 2011 millions of Americans received an eReader for Christmas, and I have no doubt that 2012 will be the same. If you are one of those lucky, new eReader owners, here is some advice from a Kindle owner since 2009.
You know they say…
You can’t judge a book by its cover.
That’s usually true, but we do anyway. I think that a good cover can attract a reader, but the real impact is a bad cover. As shallow as I feel admitting this, I won’t buy an indie book with a hot mess cover. Too many fonts? Obvious photoshop filter over a licensed photo of a supermodel? Just too dang much going on? Sorry. My 99¢ isn’t worth much, but my reading time is valuable.
M.R. Merrick blogged about covers today (I write this a few days before posting to keep ahead of my busy life) and it got me thinking. What do I love about some covers? What are my favorites? Here are five I love (4 indies, 1 from the Big 5) and what I love about them.
Exiled by M.R. Merrick
One of the reasons I first picked up Exiled was its cover. This image caught my attention with its limited palette and the beautiful, stark tree that takes center. The fonts are well chosen, one grungy, bold title and then a simple, classic font for the author credit. There are no characters on this cover, just elements. We see a tree with fire and water. We know from the presence of these elements in a field that their appearance is likely supernatural. Old, awesome-sauce trees like that usually have some mysticism around them. This is just a clean, simple cover that gives us an idea about the themes without giving anything away. It’s perfect for the book and it lured money out of my wallet. It did exactly what it was designed to do.
Looking For Alaska by John Green
John Green hates the candle. I love it. To me, the candle, which is subtle in dark purple on black, is a hidden symbol. The original design was meant to resemble cigarette smoke, which is certainly a prominent element in the book. As a stark black cover with curling smoke, I’m reminded of the simple, symbolic covers of books like The Catcher in the Rye. That classic book certainly influenced Green.
Now, apparently the publisher was afraid to put cigarette smoke on a YA novel’s cover, so they put a candle under it. That’s pretty silly, as cigarette smoke on the cover is probably the least of concerns for the reactionary-censor-moms. What I like about the candle, is that– at first glance– it is cigarette smoke. Then the candle reveals itself. The candle is a symbol. The candle snuffed out stands for death. Death is a central theme of this book.
So John Green may hate the candle, but I like it. It’s like a great work of art, where things reveal themselves as you look at it.
Jenny Pox by JL Bryan
Phat Puppy Art did the cover for JL Bryan’s Jenny Pox. The cover is simple: a girl, some birds, a tagline and a title. The title itself serves the book so well. What this cover does is set a somber mood that is made surreal by the presence of birds. Jenny’s loneliness oozes from this cover. It’s a beautiful cover for a beautiful book.
Edit May 1, 2013: Dude, those are paper cranes!
Fairyland by JL Bryan
The original Songs of Magic covers were alright. They featured some cute art, but the new photographic covers by Phat Puppy Art are awesome. Specifically I like the cover for book four, Fairyland. What do I love? The light. The color. The composition. The mood. The titles. The simplicity. I love an awful lot about this cover.
We still see Aoide’s pink hair, but the wash of gold light gives a feeling of peace, beauty, and otherness that the fairy world should have. It was worth whatever JL Bryan paid to redo the covers. This cover sells this book. It’s awesome.
Vs. Reality by Blake Northcott
I finish off with an awesome self-made cover by Blake Northcott. This cover was made from a few stock photos, but it does everything it needs to with style and flare. The open mouth, tongue hanging out is provocative. The labeled, electric-blue pills conjure images of silicon valley pharmaceuticals. The powers written on them invoke images of superheros. The clean-then-crumbling font tells us that this is not our father’s superhero book. It’s minimal on text, simple-yet-provocative on image, and full of bright colors that pop off the page. Best of all, it doesn’t look like any other book cover out there. It’s a brilliant original.
My last review, for Vs. Reality Book 1, was done in text. You can read it here. This review is a video.
As I wrapped up edits for my latest novel, Olympia Heights: The Weight of the World, and finalized the proof on the paperback of Kissing Corpses, I was met with some great news. You’ve heard me rave about JL Bryan’s Fairy series and Blake Northcott’s Vs. Reality series. It seems that both of these awesome indies will have new titles coming very soon. Here’s what I’m excited about; I’ll put the shameless plug up-front.
We return to Olympia Heights less than four months after the events of Olympia Heights: The Pantheon. Summer vacations starts with the launch of a new gossip blog, Discordia, and what it has to say stirs up some due trouble among The Pantheon. Olympia Heights: The Weight of the World starts with a big surprise for one of our characters and ends with more fights, more romance, less fire, and MORE BEARS!
Follow @Nimbuschick on Twitter to hear when it’s released!
Blake Northcott’s Vs. Reality was a huge indie hit this summer. Blake was signed on to co-write the novel for a developing TV series and her debut novel has even been picked up by a small production company. Vs. Reality is a comic-esque action novel about a man whose life of failure suddenly changes when he meets a mysterious girl and learns about a drug that can unlock his greatest potential. Blake Northcott says the draft is done and it only needs edits. This is a fun, quick read. Go grab it now for your Kindle so that you can be ready for the sequel.
JL Bryan’s fairy series is a family-friendly, campy, hilarious story about a teenager who steals magical instruments from fairies to make his high school band famous and ends up being hunted by a whole host of magical creatures. In book one, we met Jason and the unfortunate fairy he robbed. In book two, we saw how dark fairies could use the stolen goods for ultimate destruction. In book three, we learned just how far the wrong people (and the right people) were willing to go to get those instruments back. Now Jason and his band and divided as they head towards awesome, comedic, epic peril.
Look out these upcoming Kindle releases, this June.
by Blake Northcott
Vs. Reality tells the story of Donovan Cole, a fighter who is used to concussions and beat-downs. When a chance encounter with a mysterious girl drags Donovan into her serious drama, Cole takes a hit that triggers a glitch in reality and allows him to manifest super-human abilities based on his own self image.
- Since writing this post, Blake Northcott got a book deal and had to delay Relapse. Its date is now unknown.
- The dialogue may seem odd at first, but if you put it in the frame of reference of a comic book, it’s perfect.