Writer T. James' Exploration of Words, on the Internet.

Cover Art & Description Version 2, for My Upcoming Novella, “My Mirror Self, and I”

After a round of discussion, I felt as though there was room for improvement in both the cover design and the ‘blurb’ for my novella.

Please leave your constructive comments and suggestions on the new attempt compared to the old in the comments section below…  Thanks again, I really appreciate all your feedback.

A heartfelt ‘thank you’ to everyone who contributed opinions and suggestions after I posted the first versions of my cover art (post link).

The general consensus seemed to be the winner for the cover art was:

Attempt No1:

Common themes seemed to be the cover didn’t quite fit the genre, and many did not like the two opposed pictures. So this was born…

Attempt No2:

And finally, the new blurb:

‘My Mirror Self, and I’ is an intimate exploration of a young woman’s struggle with breast cancer and depression. Described as ‘powerful’, ‘compelling’ and ‘uncompromising’, this novella puts you inside Cassie’s head as she tries desperately to find a way out.

Cassie is a small town girl with everyday dreams: a happy marriage, a fulfilling job, and eventually a family. In eighteen short months her life and hopes slide from her grasp – her marriage to David is failing, and her career prospects are fading fast. Already struggling with her isolation as depression tightens its grip, she is devastated to discover she has breast cancer…

Now Cassie has to choose. Does she let her downward spiral continue all the way to the bottom, or can she find something – anything –  to fight for and make her future worth living?


Cassie’s story touches on themes explored in books like Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar”, but it is written in a style more akin to Alan Bennett’s “Talking Heads”, with a little of Victoria Hislop’s “The Island” thrown in…


  1. Krista Walsh (@krista_walsh)

    Hey TJ – feeling the new cover much more than the old one. And the blurb is muched improved!

    • T. James

      Thanks for the comment Krista, and for all your help and excellent beta-reading… It’s been a pleasure to have you dismantle my stuff… ;-)

  2. Ruth Fanshaw

    I think the second one looks best, but I would suggest that you consider changing the font of the title.

    • T. James

      Hi Ruth,

      Thanks for dropping by. There does seem to be a consensus that the font on the second cover isn’t strong enough…

      Does anyone have any suggestions on which typeface they think would look good?

  3. Emma Cunningham

    Just a quick grammar cleanup – book titles should be italicized rather than in quotation marks.

    I prefer the new cover, although I’m not sure why you’re doing black & white? Colour covers tend to be more eye-catching when people are browsing.

    • Emma Cunningham

      Oh, also…

      It should say:

      “or can she find something–anything–to fight for”

      • T. James

        Thanks Emma, I’ll change the blurb to add the dashes…

        QUESTION FOR ANYONE… Do you know if Kindle handles italics (I think it doesn’t), or can it handle HTML tags?

        It was because I wasn’t sure how Kindle formats text in its descritption section that I’ve used the quote marks as above… What does everyone think?

  4. Matthew

    Cover – Definitely the second cover. a big cover image like your second picture is much better for a thumbnail, and faces draw the eyes attention pretty naturally.

    Emma Cunningham mentions about color covers being more common. If you’re using Photoshop it’s possible to add effects and tints to subtly color it, if you want to do that. Color does give more warmth and shading to a picture, but it really is about whatever effect you’re going for and what people may respond to. I could imagine the second picture in color – while the first one seemed like black and white helped increase the whole jagged reflection theme.

    I think the Title font on the cover could also be changed or have an effect applied. With the starkness of the new cover image, you might even try the same font as your author font at the bottom. Sometimes it just takes trying out a number of fonts until the right effect is found. And of course it needs to be a font that translates well to thumbnail sizes.

    Kindle handles italics quite well, by the way. If your blurb will be the product description on Amazon’s page, then I would say to Italicize the Title and leave the rest of the description in normal font. Italics can be more of a challenge to read when there is a lot of it, and that would also solve the problem with how to differentiate the title.

    I’d also say you can remove the “quotes” at the beginning and ending of the blurb. You’d only need quotes anyway if you were quoting a review rather than describing the story.

    • T. James

      Hi Matthew,

      Thanks for your comprehensive thoughts, and you make several good points.

      I actually have the picture of the model in colour. I’ll have another play and see if it looks as dramatic as the black and white (supposedly a visual representation of Cassie’s depression, and the darker views that engenders).

      Font… It needs a change, and I’ll take your advice and play around before I settle on something. I am open to specific typeface suggestions if you have an idea of what would work well…

      • Matthew

        For fonts, unfortunately it really depends on what you have installed. Photoshop provides several good cover fonts, but if you have MS Word there are many more to choose from.

        For cover text, I use MoolBoran which is a Photoshop/Adobe font. But it’s a distinctive one that I don’t think would fit as well for your cover. I didn’t try as many cover fonts since some fonts work best with text and don’t look as good in large cover size as they do for regular text. There are some fonts which are intended specifically for covers.

        I just Googled for Cover Fonts and CreateSpace has one article: https://www.createspace.com/en/community/docs/DOC-1581

        Another article: http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2011/08/5-great-fonts-for-book-covers/

        And another one: http://fontfeed.com/archives/top-ten-typefaces-used-by-book-design-winners/

        Some of these fonts are probably purchase-only (unless they come with a product like Adobe Photoshop) unfortunately.

        I experimented considerably with text fonts and found that Cambria 11 is my favorite for inside text (not cover text). It not only comes out quite clear, but also handles italics better than any other font I tried (and I laid out about 15 examples of major fonts to see how they rendered).

  5. heidi/Akeyla

    Just one thing I would change in the Blurb, when it says – her marriage to David is failing – you can cut out ‘to David’ and just leave it at ‘her marriage is failing’ we don’t need an intro to secondary characters just yet.

    Also I don’t get the end part, where you’re comparing it to other works, I find it a bit ‘high-handed’ for one author to say that their writing is like anothers, if someone else says it, that’s different, but that could just be me.

    Good luck.

    • T. James

      Thanks Heidi,

      I appreciate the blurb suggestions. I’ll give it all more thought before I publish, but I hadn’t wanted to come across as ‘high handed’. I chose my wording carefully, so as not to say I thought my writing was as good as those author’s (that’s a reader’s call, and I will be pleasantly surprised if anyone thinks I’m getting even close).

      The piece is written with a very strong narrative voice and tone, and it’s far from the ‘invisible storyteller’ many fiction writers aim for when writing their tales. I wanted to let any potential readers know what to expect, as even setting the Kindle sample to max. (20%) gives only a few pages as (rather brilliantly – DOH!) Amazon decided to include ALL of the intro pages at the beginning of a book, not just the text of the story. So, for a shorter piece, 20% minus intro pages doesn’t give the reader as much to go on as I want…

      If anyone can think of a better way to be upfront with the reader, I’m open to ideas…

      • Matthew

        I just realized there is a typo in the blurb: “theme’s” should be “themes” without the apostrophe:

        Cassie’s story touches on theme’s explored in books like Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar”, but it is written in a style more akin to Alan Bennett’s “Talking Heads”, with a little of Victoria Hislop’s “The Island” thrown in…

        Secondly, there is the usual “which is correct” about punctuation placed inside-or-outside quotation marks.

        British usage would have your commas in the summary passage above outside the quotes (as you show them), while American usage would have the commas contained inside the quotes. There are some nuances to the rules and many sites that discuss it, although the Wiki article does a good summary:


        I agree with Heidi’s suggestion that you could drop “to David” without hurting the blurb in any way.

        As far as the summary where you allude to other authors’ works, it’s a nuanced thing that can go either way depending on wording and depending on any given reader. You can do wording that exudes arrogance (“is just as good as” or “if you like X, you will LOVE this”), or you can try to provide some examples that are helpful in describing your work without comparing them to another.

        With author query letters to agents, there is a balance between comparing one’s work versus trying to explain similarities so its style or substance can be recognizable.

        A couple examples:


        Miriam Kriss showcasing a successful query letter that also used similar wording meant to provide an idea of style/genre: http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/successful-queries-agent-miriam-kriss-and-the-iron-witch

        Your blurb is intended for general readers, and as such is meant to help them at a glance understand what they may be getting. They can then view a sample of the book to gain an even better understanding. You used careful wording like “explored in books like” and “in a style more akin to.”

        I didn’t consider your wording to be claiming your book is comparable to those other works. To me, it came off as you trying to provide enough roadmarks so someone may then glance at the preview and judge for themselves. I’ve seen similar wording before – although it’s often the most safe when even such allusions are made by a third-party. But when you’re writing your own blurb, you don’t have the luxury of a third-party trying to explain what your book is similar to – and third-parties can be as right or wrong as anyone in trying to compare works that may be similar. All of us have seen many examples of being directed toward “similar” works and discovering that to us at least, they aren’t. Many readers don’t mind a few roadmarks but most will end up judging for themselves regardless.

  6. Danielle La Paglia

    Hey TJ, I think I’m in the minority in that I really liked the first cover image. However, Matthew makes a good point in that the single image is much easier to see in a thumbnail on Amazon. The title font needs to be stronger though. It’s not easy to read with the “cracks” and on a small image they will be distorted even more. You want the title to stand out.

    As for the blurb, I do like it, especially the middle two paragraphs. I would prefer to see those as the first two and use the opening line of paragraph one as the opening line to the final paragraph (does that make sense?). I would cut the second line of the first paragraph all together for two reasons: #1 I don’t care for it when an author refers to their own work as “compelling and uncompromising” and #2 We already know the story takes place “inside Cassie’s head” as she struggles with her new reality.

    That’s just my two cents. Take it for what it’s worth. :)

    • T. James

      Thanks for your thoughts Danni,

      Ah, if only it were possible to make everyone happy. :cry: The old cover looked surprisingly eye-catching at the small scale too, but alas, ’twas not to be…

      I’m glad you’re basically feelin’ the blurb, editorial decisions have not been finalised, and I’ll add your thoughts to the mix.

      “…compelling and uncompromising” weren’t actually my terms, they were lifted from either verbal or written feedback from my betas… Would you be happy if I said, “… described as ‘compelling’ and ‘uncompromising’”?

      • Matthew

        Don’t fret too much about achieving consensus :)

        Let’s face it – there are no perfect blurbs. There are no perfect books. There are no perfect queries to agents (sorry, QueryShark! Although there are some really bad ones, of course).

        The higher the visibility of a book, the lower the bar for its blurb. Look at any NYTimes bestseller and read the blurbs someone often just dashed off rather than agonized over.

        Your blurb won’t be perfect, but you’re putting enough work into it that it does what it is meant to do: communicate what the book is about.

        And it’s then up to anyone who comes across it whether the description strikes the right notes at the right time for them to explore further.

  7. Gareth

    Hi TJ,
    This one works a lot better, although personally I think you should stick to one colour and one font for the cover. The white of your name works very well and personally think it would give it that litle something extra.

    Other than that though the blurb sounds great.

    • T. James

      Hi Gareth… We aim to please ;-)

      I’ll certainly experiment with monochrome text, and see what it looks like. There seems little doubt that the current font/effect combo isn’t very effective…

  8. Colin F. Barnes

    Hi TJ,

    The second is much better, however for me there are two things that could still be improved:

    1. The color/tone of the cover. Grey is really dull and just doesn’t stand out. I’d be tempted to either make it brighter/whiter or add some colour in, even an overlay of cool blue would give it a bit more punch.

    2. The title font looks bad. I’m not mincing my words because that doesn’t do you any favours. Here’s a very useful blog that looks at 5 very professional title typefaces: http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2011/08/5-great-fonts-for-book-covers/

    Also, I’d look at ‘Font Squirrel’ website. They offer free professional looking fonts. Also, the color of the title just doesn’t stand out when you make it a thumbnail (as it would be on Amazon et al). I’d be tempted to make it the same white as your author credit for consistency.

    But congrats on the improvement though, it’s a league apart from the first effort.

    • T. James

      Thanks mate,

      I completely agree on the font, and thanks for the links BTW… I’ll definitely check those out.

      As for colour, I’m still torn as the monochrome suits the tone of the writing so well, but I take your point about the ‘jumping out’. I’ll have a play with colour and contrast, and see if I can improve that…

      Worthwhile advice, as you haven’t done a duff cover yet…

  9. Steve McHugh

    Hi TJ

    I like the second cover the most. However, I agree with Colin about the grey an ice-blue in it might make it a lot more punchy.

    I’d also change the font of the title to something else.

    Other than that, I think it’s gonna be a great cover. Very impressive.

    • T. James

      Thanks Steve,

      Changes needed… Doing everything self-pub is an adventure requiring many hats for each environment… For the stark emptiness of the cover page, I must find my flowery creative Easter bonnet and make things pretty.

  10. T. James

    Thanks Matthew for your additional comments and links – some of them look very useful….

  11. Anne Michaud

    I wouldn’t put a person on the cover…do you hate me now? Don’t get me wrong, those covers are fine, but I’m one of those who prefer an object than a definite picture of the character.

    Then again, I’m a robot vampire, so who cares, right??

    • T. James

      Anne, I could never hate you. You are the loveliest robot vampire I know. Wait, you are the only robot vampire I know… Wait, that sounds all wrong… Even if everyone I knew was a robot vampire you would still be… Oh, this is hard work. I know you’re not supposed to say positive things to a Gothsis, but I like you even if you don’t like my cover. Hang on… maybe I should use your face on the front? What do you think? ;-)

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