Case Study 17

Title: Sealing Death

Author: Basil E. Bacorn

Designer: Basil E. Bacorn

Genre: Fantasy, young adult

Graphics: The graphic treatment here is, shall we say, minimalistic: a green, corrugated background on top of which lies a blue, textured splotch. The best I can do is to guess that the green represents grass and the blue a pond, though the green doesn’t look like grass, and the blue doesn’t look like water.

Whatever these items are supposed to be, in no way do they indicate death or even the book’s genre. At best they confuse or mislead the reader. It would have been better to use a cover without graphics at all, one with just a solid color. That would not have made for a good cover, but at least it would not have induced the wrong kinds of questions.

Typography: The title font seems to have been designed by someone who was having a bad day. It’s hard to imagine any situation in which the font would be appropriate. It certainly adds nothing here. The font’s odd serifs don’t say “fantasy” or “young adult” or even “death.” Even Helvetica would have been a better choice.

The author name appears in too small a size and too close to the bottom of the cover. It is preceded by “by,” a major gaffe. It likely is impossible to locate a book published by one of the Big 5 publishers that sticks “by” before an author’s name. There’s a reason for that: “by” adds nothing. The prospective reader already knows, from experience, that if a cover sports a person’s name—especially if that name is in sufficiently large letters—that person must be the author.

Overall: I should note that, at Amazon, the author identifies himself as a high school student. If a middle-aged writer had produced such a cover, I would have little hope of reformation, but most teenagers are capable of acquiring new skills. The author is to be commended just for being an author at his age, but he needs to learn that his words are unlikely to find an audience unless they are packaged reasonably well.