Help me choose my next book cover

I sometimes say I love designing book covers for my indie books. Sometimes because those other (90%) times I pull out my hair in hanks from trying to figure out software, marketing ideas, and readability.
I’m not the best judge of my own book covers. (Is any author? No wonder the traditional publishers rarely give authors any say in their covers.) To help me choose I am posting two more mock-ups for All Your Pretty Dreams, plus the one from a month ago, so you can vote, give me feedback, and generally tell me what you like and dislike in covers. Fonts may change, colors may get altered, even the images may be different in the final version. These aren’t finished by any stretch of the imagination, but you get the idea.  The novel features a young man who goes home for the summer to play the accordion in his family polka band, and a young woman who comes to the same town to do a field study on bees. It’s a gender-bending, small-town, contemporary homage to Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. (If that helps at all.)
I’m giving away five e-book copies to commenters on the covers in the month of July. So comment away! Even if it’s just to say, jeez, hire a graphic designer already…. 🙂
Beekeeper Cover
Beekeeper Cover
Accordion Cover
Grain bins cover

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  • Marja Coons-Torn

    Lise, I’m with those who like the accordion. It’s a strong eye-catching image. I didn’t know the silos were silos until I read the title. And I fall into the “beekeeper cover is busy” school of thought. I’ll look forward to seeing which one you pick. In the end.

  • I like the colors in the accordian cover. Pops right out. But didn’t grab my interest the way the beekeeper did. You might consider doing more tweaking. You’ve had a lot of good suggestions!

  • I like the one on the right, the blue one. The first is too grainy. the bottom one I couldn’t decipher what was on the cover.

  • My goodness, Lise! Are you more confused than ever? I thought I’d do this with my cover when the book is ready, but I’m not sure it would help. So many opinions and viewpoints! They’re almost as interesting as the covers. Let us know what you decide and if this helped or confused.
    I’m sure the book will be fun. I’m a Jane Austen fan and will look forward to it. Best!

    • Confused and delighted! I hope to get some more comments this week, and really don’t care if you trash the covers, people! Because (mwahaha) I am in charge! 🙂 Seriously, I am enjoying the different opinions very much.

  • I also like the accordion cover the best. Good luck w/your project.

  • Oh, I LOVE ‘The Beekeeper’ cover … it evokes such magic and romance and all things nostalgic … makes me totally want to read thi book!

  • I’ll add that I didn’t realize, until I went through the comments, that the third cover was not cabanas or some sort of tents on a beach. They’re kind of short for grain bins, I think. (I didn’t read the little captions.)

  • I think this depends on what mood you want to convey. These three give 3 very different vibes. The old-fashioned one would fit an historical, or something with that feel. The accordion looks kind of like mainstream fiction, the third like a fun, light beach read. On all of them, I think the title should be more legible, but it’s a long title, so that’s hard, If you do want a Jane Austen feel, I think the old-fashioned one might work best.

  • Françoise

    C’est la couverture avec l’accordéon qui attire mon attention. J’aime bien l’ambiance qu’elle dégage et j’espère qu’elle correspond à celle du livre. La technique picturale de la dernière couverture est chouette. Ce qui me gêne dedans c’est le blanc qui m’évoque la neige et donc l’hiver. Voila Lise, et merci pour cette expérience de choix!

    • A

      Merci, Francoise! Oui, la couverture avec la neige est vraiment “froid.” Et le roman se déroule durant l’été!

  • Lise, I’m glad you like to do graphics for your own novels.
    I’m sorry to say that all three would have me passing them up. I’m not a negative person, so my intent is to help you, and I hope you are not offended by this input.

    As far as the three covers go – the blue of the accordion cover caused me to look at that cover first. I also like the format of your name on that cover. However, none of the pictures caught my interest. The Beekeeper cover hits me as cold, which is not what you want for a love story. The Grain Bins cover doesn’t convey the appropriate subject matter.

    Here are some other things to think about –
    If there’s a love affair that comes about, how about putting a bee on your cover. Maybe the bee is attracted to the sound (musical note?) of the accordion, and might actually be sitting on the instrument. The young man is playing the accordion and the young woman is following the bee and discovers the young man.

    If the main plot is the two of them falling in love; I would keep the cover simple and convey what the story is about by the picture on the cover.

    The four main elements are the man and the woman, the accordion and the bee. The small town could be symbolized by a gazebo. Soft colors would be more romantic. As you know, blue and yellow mixed together forms green. You might be able to convey the combining of the man (blue) with the woman (yellow) to make green (which might be your title).

    I hope this gives you some input to think about.

  • Hi Lise,

    Saw the link on MMA so jumped on over. I think the second and third one offer you the best visual options…

    For the first one, I confess I don’t even understand the picture unless it’s a historical novel set pretty far back. And your description sounds like the polka player is a bigger character (?) and thus more of a focus than on the woman with bees? I do however like the way your name is included (i.e. the font, and the sizing/positioning).

    For the second one, I like the photo and the lower bar/swash with your name in it. However, not crazy about title font and I would put the text about pride, prejudice, etc. above the author bar — it is almost a “sub-title” so it goes with the title/picture area, not with the author’s name?

    For the third one, I confess if you hadn’t labelled it grain bins, I would have had no idea what that image was. Love the colour and style, but need something more recognizable perhaps? I also love the font choice for your title.

    All in all, I would take the grain bin cover’s font choice for title and “a novel” headings, plus positioning and font of “author of”; I would take the accordion cover’s photo + swash for the author name; and I would take the beekeepr cover’s font/shaping for author’s name.

    Might just be a mishmash, but those are the elements I like best. 🙂 Good luck!


  • Hi Lise, just tried to leave a comment and the WordPress thing thwarted me again. So I’ll try one more time … Love the “mod” cover with the accordion. Simple, clean, love the fonts, the cover is very clear and your name stands out. Bravo!

  • Thanks, everyone. Keep ’em coming, I am learning so much from your comments!

  • The accordion cover is the brightest, probably easiest to see when made smaller, and just more interesting because the instrument sits in the grass and at first glances looks like a building. I didn’t know what the bins were without the caption, and the beekeeper one is too busy for me. I would change the font for the word “Dreams” in the accordion cover–it’s too stark for me. Dreams are not that solid, in other words. I think it’s wonderful you can design your own covers. I have to get professional help–a lot of help (for my covers–maybe for my mind at this point, too). Good luck, whichever cover you choose.

  • I like the accordion one it is bright the text easy to read and indicative of dreams and Polkas = )

  • I’d definitely pick up the accordion cover to learn more. The Beekeeper is just too dark, too conceptually “busy” with all the pencil lines, makes it very difficult to read the text and it just doesn’t seem as interesting. If I had not read the description underneath, I would not have known what it was a picture of. It will NOT translate into smaller.

    I just don’t like the Bins…looks entirely too…sorry…childish.

    I like the coloring on the accordion. Nice and crisp. Well executed. Love the image of the accordion in the grass, your text is simple and easily readable. I think this should translate well into smaller images.

    When I first looked at it, it made me think of books like Steel Magnolias, The Help, etc. I know they look NOTHING like this, it was just an overall feeling.

  • I like the Accordian cover. It suggests the tone of the book as you described it–light and witty but professional. It’s clean, easy to read, and will show up well as a thumbnail.

  • Hi Lise! I like the one with the blue cover. It pops out, is clear, will show up well in smaller sizes or black and white. I feel your pain since I’m in the middle of designing the cover for my first middle grade book. Those are tricky, because they have to appeal to both kids and the adults who buy the books for them.

    Good luck with your book; I’ll be anxious to see which cover you end up with, or if it changes.

  • Based on the short description you gave I would have to say the Accordion cover bests fits. Unless you can put the bee keeper like in the background (say on a hill) while someone is sitting it the foreground playing/holding an accordion??? Just a thought

  • Debbie Carroll

    Yikes…no clear cut winner. Based on the short description you gave us of the book I like the accordian cover best. I like the beekeeper one next (and if you had a small accordian somewhere on it I’d like that one best of all!) and don’t care at all for the grain bins one.

  • If I’m picking a book based on cover alone, I would read the second one – accordion cover.

  • The beekeeper is a little busy, but conceptually I like it the best. Grain bins is too generic. Can’t pinpoint what I don’t care for on the accordion, but not my favorite.

  • I like the Grain Bins cover best. It has a wonderful, natural image, great colours and a nice symmetry to it all. The font is good and I like the way you’ve varied the sizing ~ really effective. The only thing I’m not sure about is the row of crosses at the top ~ they seem superfluous somehow.

    An accordion is a great instrument, but that cover looks like a non-fiction, cheesy ‘How to’ cover.

    The beekeeper cover throws the story too far back in time for me. It is contemporary right?

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