Case Study 1

Title: Valley of the Kings

Author: Terrance Coffey

Designer: Damonza

Genre: Historical fiction

Graphics: The illustration is very fine and looks particularly good at full size. Note how the eye is drawn to the gold medallion, on which a shaft of light plays. The background is an inscribed wall. It has some three-dimensionality, but the medallion seems to rise out of the surface.

The illustration, particularly the medallion, immediately identifies the era: there is almost no need for the subtitle. The gold works well against the aquamarine behind it. A lesser designer might have chosen gray or—gag—a reddish hue. Neither would have allowed the gold to stand out as it does here.

Typography: At thumbnail size the author name and subtitle look wispy. The font works well for the title but not so well at the smaller sizes. A narrow and bolded version might have worked better there. The tagline “a novel” is almost invisible. Even in the full-size image at Amazon those words are too small. They should have been the size of the subtitle, which does a good job of telling the reader that this is a historical novel without directly saying so, although I must admit the possibility of confusion: I have on my shelf another book titled Valley of the Kings. It’s about a famous Egyptian burial ground with that name.

Overall: This cover, though it has imperfections, clearly is the work of a professional. You just don’t see this quality coming from amateurs, but it would have been helpful if an amateur (such as the author) had commented that the smaller text wasn’t as legible as it could have been. Sometimes professional designers overlook such things, perhaps because they’re too involved with the project.

Addendum: The medallion shows a seated Nefertiti, wife of pharaoh Akhenaten. She died around 1330 B.C., at age 40, outliving her husband by a few months. She may have ruled in her own right and was succeeded by Tuthankamun, the famous boy-pharaoh, who died at age 18 after reigning nine years.