My thanks in advance to everyone for taking a look at these.
All these images came from Pixabay and are attribution-free for commercial use.
All the type is merely a placeholder. I’ve learned that not everyone can picture things that aren’t there, so I’ve made some mock-ups. But Deranged Doctor Design will do my font, better than I can do it myself (learned that lesson with Dragon Hoard).
My understanding of covers is that the most important thing they do is make a promise to the reader. I approached my image quest with that principle in mind.
1. Swan boat
This image will need a lot of work, to the point that if this is the winner, I’ll probably just repaint it with a brush. The rear oars need to go, the boat needs a cast shadow, and the oval shadow on the left margin needs to be deleted. The Christmas tree needs shortening and probably won’t have any topper to distract you from the font.
Advantages: It clearly promises both fantasy and Christmas. I like the thought of a swan boat as a metaphor for the book.
Disadvantages: The book doesn’t have a story with a swan boat or swan in it, although I don’t think that’s a big deal. The real disadvantage is that this image lacks some of the contrast of the others, which might make it less effective as a thumbnail. That’s something I could address if I repainted it.
2. Gold star tree
This is the first image I chose months ago. I mention this because sometimes I overthink things when I should’ve gone with my gut response.
If this image is chosen, I can’t see anything that needs to be done to it at all. I’ll probably just use it as is.
Advantage: The contrast is very strong, which will make it a compelling image in thumbnail. And it’s ready to go.
Disadvantage: It hints of magic to me, but it doesn’t overtly promise fantasy in the same way the swan boat does. The cone shape suggests a wizard’s hat to me, but my mind can be an idiosynchratic place, and other impressions may differ.
3. Christmas gnome
This is another one that’ll have to be repainted if chosen. Even if I add more ice and snow to the branch to make it more friendly for type, it’s still a picture of an ornament, and I’m not sure that’s classy enough for a cover.
Advantages: It has red which draws the eye and clearly promises fantasy and Christmas.
Disadvantages: The contrast isn’t awesome, although that could partly be remediated with dark font. One commenter on Absolute Write said this was her favorite image, but she thought it promised a children’s book. A more realistic smile, like that in the cover below, could possibly address that issue.
4. Christmas wizard/Santa (viewer’s choice on this one)
In Photoshop, I would go blind trying to fix this image. The rubber stamp tool would become my very best friend. So many white hairs to clean up, along with some visual noise in the blue puff balls on the right. And it’ll still be a picture of a doll, which I don’t think is classy enough as a cover. So this is another that’ll need to be redone in paint.
Advantages: The contrast on this one is awesome. It really pulls the eye in thumbnail. And I do have a couple Santa stories in my collection.
I can’t think of a disadvantage to using this, other than the work involved in translating it to paint. I guess some people dislike faces on covers. I suppose the ambiguity of the central figure on the cover could be either an advantage or disadvantage.
5. Snowflake background
I didn’t bother to put font on this because it’ll basically be all font, and mine is pretty tame.
Advantages: Image can be used as is, and the contrast could be great with something like gold lettering. Also, I have a snowflake story in the collection.
Disadvantage: I have a cordial dislike to all-font covers. They lack an image to pull readers in, and I’m not sure that’s wise.
Another advantage to consider is that an image I paint will help brand my work, since I painted all my other covers. I know, I’ve only published one book that’s all my own work so far, but I’ve painted six more covers, and the style seems to be reasonably consistent with my art on Dragon Hoard. I can easily ask Deranged Doctor to use the same font.
I haven’t updated the graphics on my site yet, so I’ll include the cover of Dragon Hoard here in case anyone has an opinion on the font. Do you think I should ask Deranged Doctor to use the same one to help with branding?
Which cover image do you like? And if you don’t mind sharing, are you in the target audience for a collection of fantasy and contemporary Christmas stories?