Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cover Design (Part 2 of 5)

What a shock it was to get that email.  After viewing the 4 draft-concept images for roughly 20 seconds I threw up a little inside my mouth and closed the images.  I knew the more I looked at them the more I would become irate and irrational.  I had to cool off.

I decided to wait a day to look at them again.  IT would give me time to cool down and assess what my initial problems were with the concepts.  After all, they were merely concepts and nothing more (despite being high-school flyer equivalents filled with boxers).  I collected my ideas and replied to [book cover design company] with this email:

[book cover design company rep]:

I have thoroughly reviewed the cover concepts over the past few days
and I must say I am disappointed in what was sent to me.  While I
realize the priority in a marketing standpoint, these concepts do not
appear to be at the professional level with which I want to represent
my book.

First and foremost, BOXERS are placed everywhere.  This isn’t a book
about underwear (shorts if anything, hence the double meaning title).
On the other hand, I acknowledge that these are concepts and concepts
only, being works in progress and I anticipate things improving from
here.  As of now, 3 of the 4 concepts not only do not match the book
conceptually, they are simple clip-art images of underwear thrown on
to the design and do not fit what I believe to be objective
requirements. These concepts do not resemble professional graphic
design etiquette and look like fliers you would see for high school

Attached are my notes and concerns with what has been presented to me.
 I also created my own concepts over the past few days for
consideration to use – I feel these are stronger aesthetically and
conceptually than what was provided to me, and present a stronger
message to what the marketing design needs to be.

Regardless of the marketing strategies incorporated, they need to look
professional and not like jumbled fliers.  If anything, they look to
be cheap non-fiction covers at best.  Without having read the book,
how do your designers know who to target? What is the marketing design
based off of? Your email described that marketing strategies are key
in selling a book, regardless of subjective changes.  I value all
aspects you have in mind to finalize a cover, but much is lacking. The
concepts as is, are not presentable.

Please review my notes and concepts and let me know the best way to
proceed from here.

Thank you,

David Goodberg

I then attached two documents the email (both below)
1 - A word doc of my comments
2 - Simple concepts (that MIMIC what I already sent them)


  • Goodberg is misspelled.  While this doesn’t affect the design, the fact that it was misspelled and reached me without being corrected is disconcerting.  You mentioned a lot of thought going into these concepts.
  • 3 of the 4 concepts utilize boxer shorts as the primary image and selling point, which has nothing to do with my book (Underwear vs. time travel).  This leaves me with very little to consider of these concepts.
  • I wish that some of my design requests that were sent with my information were incorporated in these concepts.
  • Regardless of the boxers displacement to the concept of the book, they are basic clip-art photos merely pasted onto the cover – this looks very cheap and amateurish and can only hurt the book when considered by a viewer (or distributor or review).
  • These give off a feel of collages of pre-designed images and concepts.

  • Beach and underwear themed (nothing related).
  • Distortion of boxers and clock make this look worse (never distort!)
  • Very bland – no lights or darks in the concept, everything is blurred together in the same murky tone.
  • Nothing is engaging in this concept.
  • I am disappointed in this concept and am surprised it was sent to me.

  • Boxers ruin this – even if they were shorts, it would be a silly means to decorate with – this is just a bunch of clip art photos placed about.  This isn’t a birthday party decoration.
  • Main font is too simple and basic for what is happening around them–looks like a cheap flyer.  Shadows behind font are too distorted and are distracting.
  • Spacing around text compared to boxers is jumbled and make the viewer feel trapped. (Bad use of space).

  • This concept is OK – this is the only one in the right direction.
  • Why is the cartoon blocked off by the text?
  • Text/Font is too jumbled – needs to be simplified (make “and other methods of” smaller, example).  The entire cover is text that is all the same size and will not be read by the viewer because it looked like a gigantic page of text.
  • What is the moon cookie cartoon floating and half blocked off by the text?  Why is it here and what is it doing?
  • White BG is not ideal

  • “Boxers in a tornado” (bad)
  • The font/design is pretty good, but looks identical to most rock bands and is not helpful
  • White BG is not ideal

(click to enlarge)


Hi David,

First and foremost I’d like to apologize for the misspelling of your name. When I sent the information to the cover designer, I typed the last name of a previous client by mistake.

The purpose of concepts is to get us heading in the right direction; first concepts are a bit of a shot in the dark. We went in the direction of humor in order to tie in the double meaning of the title as well as the fun illustrations in the interior.

We’ll use your feedback to generate additional concepts that are simpler and more in line with the samples you attached. This is also a common way to design a cover.

Will be in touch shortly. We want you to be delighted with the cover design and we’ll work with you as a team to create a cover that is pleasing to you and also meets the criteria of the book industry.

Please let us know if you have any other questions or comments.

Thank you and enjoy the day,



I read this email and calmed a little.  I replied with a thank you, saying "Thanks for the reply - knowing how smoothly the interior changes were made I am confident the cover will improve," and they responded with "We’ll get right on the revisions and send another PDF as soon as possible."  OK, well see what happens from here...

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