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Author Topic: A fan of minimalist covers but a lover of fantasy  (Read 5010 times)

Offline ThiefofHope

A fan of minimalist covers but a lover of fantasy
« on: June 16, 2017, 05:25:48 PM »
I made a "book cover" suited to my tastes (and likely no one else's) for the duology I'm working on. I'm a fan of minimalism and it's easier for me to read white text on a black or grey background so I took that knowledge and ran with it.

I know it's hilariously unlikely for me to have a say in what my book cover is (especially because I want to sell this manuscript), but it was fun to make.

(If anyone is curious, I also drew and hand painted my avatar. She's one of the duology characters).

Here's the link: http://i.imgur.com/5MzbTS3.jpg?1
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Offline ScarletBea

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Re: A fan of minimalist covers but a lover of fantasy
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2017, 05:27:23 PM »
I think it's beautiful!
I'm also a big fan of minimalist covers :D
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Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: A fan of minimalist covers but a lover of fantasy
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2017, 05:43:49 PM »
I like it. While I love fancy cover art as an art form, it plays zero role in my purchasing decisions, and I appreciate a minimalist approach that doesn't try to TELL me what's portrayed inside. My imagination's better than their artist, and their book will fare better if they don't start off by telling me what the characters, ships, weapons, landscapes look like.
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Offline Magnus Hedén

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Re: A fan of minimalist covers but a lover of fantasy
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2017, 08:51:48 PM »
I do like minimalism on covers. Trying to portray the story in a picture on the cover pretty much always fails. And I strongly dislike characters and settings portrayed on the cover (or at all in the book) as that's what the writing is supposed to do. That being said, I feel that this one is perhaps a bit TOO minimal. I also find it hard to actually read the title.

Gem Cutter, while I am not convinced that covers do not matter to your purchases, regardless of the truth of that, they DO matter to anyone who wants to sell a book. A lot. With more and more book purchases being done online, the cover is often what will decide if people make that first click or not. And design has always mattered to marketing, much more than people believe or care to admit.
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Offline tebakutis

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Re: A fan of minimalist covers but a lover of fantasy
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2017, 09:13:45 PM »
I have one big tip for indie book covers (especially if you're doing them yourselves). It's probably some of the best cover advice I've received.

Go to Amazon, view some books, and take a screenshot of the page. Crop the screenshot down to the size of one thumbnail. Find out how big, in pixels, that thumbnail is.

Now, take your cover and shrink it down to that number of pixels, and look at it at 100%. Is it readable/eye-catching?

Finally, do the same with the cover that appears when you actually click on the thumbnail. Same method, same test.

If the cover in either case isn't clear and eyecatching (you should, at minimum, be able to read the title, and usually, the author's name) you need to rethink your cover layout.

Offline ThiefofHope

Re: A fan of minimalist covers but a lover of fantasy
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2017, 09:50:28 PM »
@tebakutis I know, this was just for fun ^^ but thank you for the advice. I'm going to shop this manuscript around to agents. I doubt my idea would be looked well upon by most publishing houses.
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Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: A fan of minimalist covers but a lover of fantasy
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2017, 10:49:41 PM »
While I do think book title should be highly visible, I think a couple things trump cover pizazz at any size. These are distinctiveness/similarity to something specific and subtle/not-so-subtle cues as to the nature of the book. All the covers of major books that I can think of are distinctive, if I can recall them at all. I don't know what, if any stats are out there on correlations between clicky-bait-ness and sales, but I imagine it's low.

It works well for cereal boxes and laundry detergent, and whereever products that are highly similar try to stand out from their near-infinite competitors through flash. Books are not like this, with some apparent exceptions, like the oodles and oodles of romance and fantasy novels featuring their genres standard ripped bodices and flaming swords, etc. You've seen them, but probably can't name them - which is my point.

Books are highly distinctive and their consumers are insanely picky. And unless it's being bought as a gift for someone, the cover's not the clincher sometimes. Sometimes it can influence, but I suggest that the sampling of the opening, the random peek in the middle, whatever the person does, has as big or a bigger impact.

For example, Mark Lawrence's Broken Empire books have wonderful art, in terms of quality, but I wouldn't say they are eye-catching or flashy. They don't recall a specific scene or show some dramatic moment. But they tell a hell of a lot about the kind of book inside: Grimdark. The throne and swords of the second book and the field of swords in the third suggest similarity with Game of Thrones and make a promise - if you liked that, you'll like this. And there are some similarities - rough things happen that shock and surprise; there are no white-hat wearing good guys.

The cover of Lies of Locke Lamorra follows this pattern. They communicate mood and tone and setting, hint at something cool, then get off the stage with their titles plainly visible. Many of the LoTR book covers over the years are more suggestive of what's inside than they are flashy. If anything, the restraint of their covers share more with a box of expensive liquor than a flashy detergent bottle on a supermarket shelf. My two cents.
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Offline Magnus Hedén

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Re: A fan of minimalist covers but a lover of fantasy
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2017, 02:42:15 PM »
Gem Cutter, meaning no offence, I am not actually sure what the point is that you are trying to make? All I am saying is that covers play a huge role in book sales, especially online. It doesn't mean other factors don't play in.

But what you seem to do is to extrapolate your own experiences and opinions as a book consumer onto the entire market. That is a mistake. And where do you get the idea that book consumers are "insanely picky"? I would very much like to see some support for that statement as I don't believe it to be true. It's certainly not true for humans overall; psychologically we are built to make split second decisions, then defend them fervently with or without logic. It actually takes sincere effort to override the automatic decisions we quickly make based on limited information. (It's called heuristics, and I could go on for a long time about it).

I'm not saying that there aren't people like you, I, and probably many others on these forums, who do spend that extra energy. But most people do not.

There have been plenty of surveys on what makes people buy a book where cover ends up a top factor. I can't seem to dig up some of the better articles I've read on the subject, but here's one from Indiereader that you can start with (it was also published in the Huffington Post). I'll keep looking for the other ones.

But there are also valuable statistics available on what actually gets clicks. Since all that information is digital, a lot of research is done on big data (by companies who want to sell more). For example, Netflix posted some fascinating information about how their users behave when they look for new shows to watch. You can find it here.

I'm happy to continue the discussion, and I recognise that we may be talking about slightly different aspects of the matter. The fact is that people's opinions on book covers, when asked, will likely not match up with their actual purchasing habits. We humans like to fool ourselves into believing we know what we're doing!

Oh, and apologies to ThiefOfHope, whose topic got slightly hijacked!  :-[
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Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: A fan of minimalist covers but a lover of fantasy
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2017, 04:31:05 PM »
My point is I disagree with the interpretation of the data you reference. It is difficult to reconcile it with the also well established weight of  recommendations / word of mouth in book purchases. There are distinct types of consumers who approach the point of sale from wildly differing vectors. And I grant you that the person who is randomly shopping for a book is likely to follow the flash. But research indicates that that consumer is the minority, far outnumbered by people who come to the point of sale with the title already in mind. And comparisons to Netflix are poorly founded. Again, a product you watch for 2 hours is significantly different from ine you read for many hours. We do not associate album sales with album covers. There are any number of other factors that are as important or more so - such as "people who bought this also bought these" listings. And the momentum, positive and negative, of reviews and stars. Sure, if you can afford amazing art that is flashy and clicky, go for it I guess. But many cannot. My point is those people with limited resources are probably better served applying their money and attention to minimalist covers of high quality that make a promise consistent with their content.

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Offline Magnus Hedén

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Re: A fan of minimalist covers but a lover of fantasy
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2017, 05:10:51 PM »
That's all solid, and as a whole, I agree with what you are saying. I'd love to see the research saying that word of mouth is bigger than snap sales, though. That's very interesting. I have no doubt word of mouth has a big impact, but it's not my impression so far that it is bigger (though as you say, it's very difficult to measure, and the two will potentiate each other, as well). But I always enjoy a good analysis or a new perspective.

Shit, I'm reading up on this and I don't even have a book to sell yet. :D

I just want to add the caveat that it doesn't matter how you come upon the cover; once you see it you'll be under the effect of that snap judgement. The Netflix research is relevant to the discussion because the subconscious mechanisms are the same, regardless of what the product is. Your brain makes a snap decision before you even begin taking other things into consideration. And because that judgement is the first, your brain will weight it much heavier than anything that follows (regardless if that makes logical sense).

And I agree that going for a minimalist cover is the way to go on a budget, but it still takes someone good at design to make a good minimalist cover.
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Offline ThiefofHope

Re: A fan of minimalist covers but a lover of fantasy
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2017, 05:14:14 PM »
@Magnus Hedén @The Gem Cutter I just did this for fun. I'm trying to find an agent for my work, so I'll probably end up with a "trendy" cover if I even get picked up. I appreciate both of your input.  :-\
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Offline Magnus Hedén

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Re: A fan of minimalist covers but a lover of fantasy
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2017, 05:35:44 PM »
So. What's the book about? Want me to dissect a chapter?

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Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: A fan of minimalist covers but a lover of fantasy
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2017, 06:28:20 PM »
Their discussion of a snap judgment is interesting, but not complete. Watch Simon Sinek's TED on the Golden Circle, which is the basis of my view (and supports observations of human behavior all my life).

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4ZoJKF_VuA&t=220s[/youtube]
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Offline ThiefofHope

Re: A fan of minimalist covers but a lover of fantasy
« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2017, 06:42:29 PM »
@Magnus Hedén it's a dark, high fantasy epic in which five women attempt to cure and incurable disease and end up resurrecting a primordial goddess.

I'd definitely show you the first chapter but a an onslaught of  bad "beta readers" have recently left me a bit self-conscious about it, even though I've done 19 full rewrites and can tell you what happens in each chapter pretty much off the top of my head. This is hopefully my penultimate rewrite. I just want to start part two already (it's a duology).
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Offline Magnus Hedén

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Re: A fan of minimalist covers but a lover of fantasy
« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2017, 07:34:44 PM »
@The Gem Cutter that's a very interesting talk, and I'm sure to use some of those thoughts in the future. But I'm not sure how it relates to a discussion about heuristics. The subconscious snap judgements we make are based on automated systems. Our conscious choices on how we choose to communicate our ideas have nothing to do with them.

If you really want to dive into the subject, I can recommend the book Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. It's not light reading, though (and it doesn't help that he's not a particularly engaging writer), but it's a fascinating read about just how bad we are at making rational choices, and it's backed up by decades of solid research.
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