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

It’s Close: My Upcoming Novella, “My Mirror Self, and I” – Cover Art & Description

*UPDATE* as of 23/02/12. Due to your helpful feedback on the first trial of the cover, I’ve revised the design and I would appreciate your thoughts… Please click here!

I’ve been beavering away for a while now getting my novella up to a publishable standard, and I’m getting close – I hope to have it out on Kindle within a couple of weeks, with a paperback version to follow later on Amazon.com, and then to release it on other formats and in other regions as I have time.

There’s still a bit to do, final grammar and punctuation checking and formatting, but otherwise it’s good to go… or so I hope.
I’ve never designed a cover or written the ‘blurb’ for a book synopsis before, and I want to know what people think before I take the plunge…

So, the cover and description – do you love them, hate them, or just want to shrug your shoulders and move on, uninterested? I’d appreciate some honest and constructive criticism, and any suggestions you have for possibly improvements in the comments below…

*Update* Based on some of the feedback I have recieved already I would appreciate feedback on the cover art most of all, I’m hopeful of nailing the description blurb with the feedback I already have… Specifically, if the pictures of the woman put you off, is it because of the way they are integrated into the cover, or is it because you don’t like the picture of the woman in distress? Please give me as much detail as you can…

Thanks for taking a look :)

N.B. I know the best idea is to have it done by a professional, but financially that just isn’t an option. So my choice – either leave my work unpublished (there’s no way it’s mainstream enough for an agent/publisher to touch) or do the best I can myself…



And now version 2:


And version 3:


And version 4:


And version 5:


‘My Mirror Self, and I’ is an intimate exploration of a young woman’s struggle with breast cancer and depression. Compelling and uncompromising, this novella draws you into Cassie’s world and takes you on her journey.

Cassie is a small town girl, with small town dreams: a happy marriage, a fulfilling job, and eventually a family. In eighteen short months her life and hopes slide from her grasp – after she and her husband David move to Atlanta her marriage begins to fail and she cannot find work. 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?


  1. Rich Weatherly

    I like the cover T.James. The title is clever and the image captures the essence of your story.

    Good luck with this project :-)

    • T. James

      Thanks Rich, for the feedback and your help throughout the writing process – it’s been invaluable. You have taught me to speak much better American… :-)

  2. Krista Walsh (@krista_walsh)

    Hey TJ,

    Re: the blurb – love the first para, love the last para .. middle one feels it gives too much away maybe?

    • T. James

      Thanks for the feedback Krista, I’ll take another look…

  3. EileenJ

    For me, the cover came down to a draw between #2 and #5. The fonts used on those covers somehow convey the wavy, uncertain qualities in Cassie’s life much better than the others. I really like #2 better, because the completely black and white theme also says something about the starkness of her life. The color in #5, though, makes the cover really jump out at me more. Sounds like a really great read!

    • T. James

      Thanks Eileen for the really positive comments. I hope, if you decide to take a look after it’s published, the story meets your expectations… It’s a bit of a ‘marmite’ piece, readers so far either really like it, or don’t…

      I really appreciate your thoughtful and detailed feedback as it’s just what I need when considering which version of the description and the cover art to go with, or even if I need to start again from scratch.

      Eileen, I would have visited your blog/website, but there’s no active link for me to follow. I appreciate the visit though. :)

  4. Matthew

    Cover # 2 would be my pick.

    I almost think you could make the last part of the first paragraph of the blurb just a little bit stronger:

    “…this novella draws you into Cassie’s world and takes you on her journey.”

    “Takes you on her journey” almost doesn’t seem as powerful as the word choices that came before. Throwing out possibilities (none of these are perfect, but that’s what brainstorming is for – perhaps one might give some ideas):

    “…and makes the reader a part of her journey.”

    “…and makes the reader a partner in her journey.”

    “…and her journey to find true meaning and purpose in her life.”

    Anyway, just a thought. It’s a very good blurb and I think only that latter part gave me slight pause – maybe as if I was expecting just a little more. But still, a blurb is a blurb and they can only be so good and don’t need to be completely agonized over :) So if any of these thoughts struck a chord, great. But it doesn’t *need* to be changed. Just if you want to tweak it, that’s the only very minor place I thought of.

    • T. James

      Hi Matthew,

      Thanks for your comments. I agree, “… takes you on her journey.” tails off a bit. Not exactly gripping. I’ll think on a re-wording of it.

      Cover #2 seems to be edging ahead slightly, but I’ll have to check readability of the title, especially when shrunk to Kindle size… Ah, the joys of tweaking.

      • Matthew

        That’s a good point about the font.

        I don’t know whether you’re using Photoshop or not and could modify the font attributes a little to help it stand out when shrunk (contrast, beveling, and the like).

        I down-sized the image and I can see why you chose some options with a colored font. The silvery font looks great full-sized, but doesn’t translate as well for a thumbnail.

        Since you typically can do separate covers for the thumbnail/catalog and internal cover associated with the Kindle – you might also consider keeping the font but changing its color to much darker for the thumbnail and retaining the silvery look for the full-size that a person would see when they read on their Kindle.

  5. Fran

    I think it could lose the two pictures of the woman. A cracked mirror is strong enough, and would look more professional. The blurb is good but as a previous commenter said, you’re perhaps giving too much away. Think about leaving us hungry. Best of luck!

    • T. James

      Thanks Fran.

      I’ve been wrestling with the problem of both making making the cover stand out, even when it’s only 1cm tall, and utilising the ‘clean’ design of many of today’s covers. The problem with the glass only approach is, whilst it does look good full size, the impactful details disappear at a small scale…

      I shall continue to ponder…

      Thanks for visiting Fran, but I don’t have a link to your blog, and Twitter isn’t cooperating in finding you. :(

  6. Marianne Su

    I agree with Fran about the pictures. A graphic cover without the image of the woman I think could be quite striking. I also really like the text on version 2. Have fun with the project, TJ.

  7. everythingrainbow

    I personally liked the cracked glass cover but the purple font doesn’t do it for me. Just doesn’t fit with the black and white cover. I do really like the fourth font thought :)

    from your blurb, the novella sounds interesting. a good inspiring book maybe?

    Love that you’re doing all this work on your own! Keep it up you’re doing great!

  8. Natalie Westgate

    As you said you’d appreciate feedback on the cover art most then that is what I shall give :)

    For me, the immediate thing that came to mind is “why are the pictures side by side?” You lose the impact of the 2 “selves” as they’re skewed, and side by side is the narrowest part of the book. I’d suggest having one above, one below and (for more of a mirror effect) invert the lower one so that it is like an actual reflection of the image above yet with a different expression. I’d suggest you get rid of the smashed image from behind them – if you still want that effect I’d suggest having it as an overlay on top of the images (maybe even only one one image – the screaming one?) to show cracks in the mirror ie cracks in the self (which is what I think you’re trying to say metaphorically?).

    Just my 2c :) You need to utilise the space you have and right now you’re squishing images into the narrow part and letting all of that prime cover real estate going to waste.

    As for fonts, the version 4 font and colour works best for text. It’s feminine and looks handwritten, which makes us think more about personalities and image – you can tell a lot from someone’s handwriting, etc. One question to pose you though – do you really need it to say “a novella”? Personally, I’d remove those 2 words and just have your byline instead.

    Hope that helps! :D

  9. Pat Hollett

    Love the blurb about the novella TJ! It’s well done. However the cover doesn’t quite do it for me. And since you’ve asked for complete honesty, you shall receive nothing less.

    The blurb makes me want to read this book, but the cover wouldn’t appeal to me at all and I’d think twice about it. I get that you’re doing it yourself so here are my suggestions.

    I like number 1 the most. I don’t care for the lavender coloured writing. It just doesn’t strike me or stand out. The rest of it is too bleak, too black and grey. Possibly try working with colored pictures or take them out completely. Or, if you want to have the pictures in black and white, change the writing to something bold and dark.

    Maybe have the mirror in the middle or with the faces above and below, or you may want to ask someone in OWG like Tammy or Misty or Chrissey to give you some ideas. They all work with photoshop and they’re all really good at it.

    They may have some good ideas no one has suggested yet. I’d give that a shot. You may find something you like from working with one of them.

  10. Gareth

    Personally I’d say to stick with one font and colour for your name and the title. For me it works better to be honest with the material you’re dealing with I think that changing between two different colour as well as fonts may confuse rather than enhance.

  11. Steve McHugh

    I like number’s 2 and 5. 2 probably just edging ahead.

    I like the blurb, it’s good an excellent hook.

    Good luck with it, TJ.

  12. PJ Schnyder

    Cover art:
    I like versions #2 and #4 the best of what you have, but I don’t think it pops as much as you want.

    A suggestion would be to keep the cracked class graphic, this makes the strongest impression on me, and then perhaps make the images of the woman transparent and layered behind the cracked glass.

    Small town girl, with small town dreams tweaked me. I’d suggest changing this up a bit. Perhaps small town girl with simple dreams?
    The rest of the blurb is very good but this paragraph was just a bit off. Strong, but could be stronger.

    Hop this was of help…

  13. T. James

    Thanks guys and gals… I’ve been flooded with suggestions, and I really appreciate all your feedback – now I have some ideas for a second version.

    Unfortunately, although I feel OK with downloading an image I intend to buy later to experiment with in a layout (and then deleting after… the images are watermarked, which I do not remove), I would probably be breaking copyright to post the mock-ups online (even if I gave full credits to the photographers). So, you will see a completed Version 2 after I’ve decided what works, and paid for the piccies… Wish me luck!

  14. Karen L. Syed

    You asked. It is far too simplistic and while stark might be good, this is simply harsh.

    Your blurb is excellent, but in my professional and personal opinion, it does not come even close to conveying the angst of the book. It kinda looks like someone who is having withdrawals from drugs.

    It does not offer any of the sense of hope that your blurb offers.

  15. J.G.Banks

    I gotta say I love version 2 out of all of them very professional and the images of the women are fine they go well with the theme of the cover and title of the book.

    oh and ps…you should give an agent a try my man, you just never know O_o

  16. Angela Addams

    I like the second cover the best.

    The blurb is great, TJ!

  17. heidi/Akeyla

    I do find the cover art a little – unerving – and it doesn’t really draw me in. I might suggest using the same image with just a very slight difference, maybe an inner image in her eye, a tear on her cheek, a slight downward turn to her lips. I think subtle would work better here, but that’s just my opinion.

    As far as the writing and font, I like the second version the best.

    Hope that helps, congrats and good luck with it!

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