Tag Archives: Book Cover design

Capitals or not capitals – do lower case letters in a title irritate you?

When I was looking at options for a cover design for my latest book ‘Murder, now and then’ a friend suggested I set the task as a challenge for design students at his college. The tutors are always on the look out for ‘real business opportunities’ to give their students experience of following specifications, meeting deadlines and working with the business world.

I was delighted to think that my new book cover would be designed by local students and, as a college tutor in a previous life, I looked forward to working with them both actually and virtually. There was also a certain amount of nervousness about the outcome too.

After an eventful but enjoyable time the proposed covers were submitted for a competition. The outcome of this was that I chose the two covers which won the most votes, one to be used for the paperback and the other for the ebook.

Murder, now and then available on Amazon

~  Murder, now and then available on Amazon

This is the overall winner and paperback cover. It is intriguing, combining:

~ the elements of time – the poppies and dagger-like objects – WW1

~ the circuit board at the top – the future – 2019

~ farming – with the fields

~ the missing piece of the puzzle over Bedfordshire

~ the grave of the girl murdered in 1919


Back coverMNAT


~ and on the back a Sherlock Holmes spyglass

~ over the island of Jersey

~ and the cameo of the missing girl from 1919 !!!!

Would readers grasp even half of the symbolism embedded in this cover? Did it matter? Would readers think about it afterwards? Yet again did it matter?

Strangely, this cover was particularly liked by female potential readers.

Does it have effective impact as a design? These were all questions I set aside as I prepared for the launch.

The e book, which was preferred by the men who voted, was quite different.

Available on Kindle

Available on Kindle

~ it had an impact with the colours red and yellow

~ the dagger-like weapon slashed through the centre

~ the figures spoke of scarecrows or of country dancing –  a link to country roots

~ it had a retro feel with the lettering, speaking of days gone by – the dual time zones of 1919 and 2019


Using two covers has been great, but they have also caused a few problems. One of them being the title. In my specification I suggested that the ‘now and then’ should almost be an aside and did not have to be in capitals. That was fine but one chose to use them and the other didn’t. My dilemma now  is how do I write about the novel – with capitals or not? Often I have used a comma and not used capitals, but sometimes I felt it appropriate to be more conventional.

My question to you is ‘does it matter’ as long as I am consistent? What do you think?

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Filed under Bedfordshire, Book reading, Murder Now and Then, Writing a novel

Cover Competition Results ~ Hooray!

Firstly, I have been overwhelmed by gratitude and pleasure by this event and want to thank all the students who have submitted covers, those who tried but did not submit, all those folks in college including their tutor Ben, my Facebook friends and readers and twitter followers who have entered wholeheartedly into the spirit of this event!

There was such a wonderful buzz with helpful feedback, comments and opinions, sometimes quite heated, for this cover competition by students at North Herts College, Hitchen. After that I spent a good while discussing each cover with several of the Ampthill Writers’ Group face-to-face at the new Costa Coffee and the church Soup lunch, my editor, proof reader, family and finally I had the results from the college on line vote too. The final decision wasn’t easy and in the end I will not please everyone but I think you will all agree that the students are the heros here for allowing their work to be discussed so publicly!

Here is a summary of feedback:

Cover A

Cover A


College Votes 10

Facebook lots of positive opinion, likes and useful comments too. Here is my  feedback:

“Well done for completing a wrap around cover. The designer clearly followed the specification quite carefully. It was the men particularly who liked this cover best of all on Facebook and with my readers it gained equal votes to Cover B. They liked the vibrant, eye catching colours and the retro style, in keeping with a murder mystery. My writers’ group made some useful pointers for amendments which would need to be made but suggested that it would stand out on Kindle. This cover won my readers’ vote by a small margin.”


Murder Now and Then CCollege Vote 27

Facebook Many liked this best of all and there were lots of favourable comments too with helpful hints for amendments which could improve it.

Here’s my feedback to the student:

“Immediately I saw this cover it made me smile because I thought how cleverly the designer had interpreted the specification and made an image I felt was intriguing and eye catching. Feedback from my readers caused a great deal of discussion verging on being controversial, which I think is a good thing! Some loved it including myself, especially the puzzle aspect and the spy glass. There were some valuable points made though, and if the designer is willing and able to spend some time working with me to improve her cover I feel that it could be a winner.

It certainly won the college vote and I congratulate the student for her unique design.”


Cover C

Cover C

College Vote 7

Facebook Likes, equal to A and B and a lot of favourable feedback. Here’s mine:

“There was excellent feedback from several of my readers who backed it as the best cover for its simplicity and shelf appeal, fitting for a murder mystery in today’s market. My writers’ group felt that, though they liked it, the historical significance of the shape of the cross being German in WW1 rather than English was not in keeping with the theme of this particular novel, although the designer was not to know this since she had not been given the opportunity to read the manuscript. I would like to thank the student for her proposal and congratulate her that the feedback from many I asked was extremely positive and she should be proud of her work.”


Cover D

Cover D

I have to hold my hand up here and admit that I had no intention of using this cover, which I designed myself to give the students some idea of what I needed them to achieve. I thank you for the positive and flattering response although I feel that it is mainly due to the fact that it is complete in every way, rather than for the design. When I looked at it on a Smart Board with the students we felt that there was too much plain brown and for an e book cover one student aptly commented that, ‘it looked like a bible.’


Attempt 1There was a late entry that I would like to acknowledge here because I feel that the designer has worked hard to produce something a bit different. I discussed it with close friends, family and members of my writers’ group unfortunately after my Facebook event. I felt that it was a very clever cover and I have seen a similar style used recently.

Here is my feedback to the student:

“I thank the student for entering their proposed book cover and it was looked at and discussed by my writers group, all of whom liked the formal lettering, clean lines and thought that it was a balanced overall look with a photograph which could be relevant for a novel set in a stately home or country manor. Overall it was felt that the cover was designed in a style more appropriate for non-fiction but that it was a commendable book cover nevertheless. “

At the end of the week I must admit that my head buzzed on the verge of aching with the decision I had to make. I could not please everyone and so this is what I decided:


I am going to launch cover A, the orange  one, for the book on Kindle because it is bright, eye catching and fun, with colours and images both sinister and speaking of danger. The designer has agreed to carry out some small amendments and complete the design and I will share it with you when it is finished, asking permission to mention his name too. I have asked if he would complete the paperback cover too and I will hold it for possible future use, but intend to use it for some of my posters.


I am going to launch an amended version of Cover B for the paperback version. I was told after this decision that the designer made the images in 3D and so I am in awe that she is unphased by the changes I have suggested and we are now working together on amending the design which will incorporate much of your feedback. I will share it with you when it is complete.

Congratulations to both of these designers and all those who have taken part in their first ‘real’ work experience in art and design. The final publication date for ‘Murder, Now and Then’  will be when all is complete but fingers crossed it will be in April!


Filed under Marketing your novel, Murder Now and Then, Publishing your novel

Murder Mystery Cover Competition ~Entries from North Herts College, Hitchin

As explained fully in my previous post, some students of North Herts College have risen to the challenge of designing a book cover for my murder mystery which will be published shortly. I have been  impressed by their enthusiastic response. Although only a few have managed to produce a version in time for the competition,  I know from emails that many more have attempted the task.  I am also sure that the experience for all will have be valuable.

Here are the covers submitted. Many folk have commented on Facebook over the last week but I would appreciate any constructive feedback. Which do you like best and why? What don’t you like?

Cover A

Cover A

Murder Now and Then C

Cover B

Cover C

Cover C

Only an e cover submitted on Cover C above but that’s fine for now.

Cover D

Cover D

Please remember that these are draft proposed covers and that the students have worked extremely hard to produce their first ever book cover designs. I am impressed with their ideas and the way they have interpreted my specifications in such a varied way. I would appreciate your positive feedback and constructive criticism; in fact any comments which would make an interesting fledgling design a great one!

The final decision will be made by members of The Ampthill Writers during the coming week. Watch this space!



Filed under Events, Murder Now and Then, Publishing your novel