I have received my first cover to critique! This cover is for a novel called The Breadwinners. The author sent me the cover blurb along with the cover, and it’s one of those epic multi-generational family dynasty stories, this one beginning in the 1920s and concerning two bakeries (bakery? Breadwinner? Get it?)
You know, I always hate to have to be over critical on covers because while it can be very satisfying to be witty and say funny things, in the end, somebody did this cover and put some work into it. And it’s, well, pretty darned bad.
At first glance the cover is really beige and muddy looking. I don’t mind the typeface of the “The Breadwinners” title, though “A Family Saga” is difficult to read. And both fonts look dated. The author name is an odd greenish tint that doesn’t match, and it’s in Gill Sans Ultra; a typeface that went out of style in the 80s, which is about what this cover reminds me of; the 1980s.
The background bakery artwork might work well for a children’s book, but it does not suit the subject of this book at all. It’s a bakery, which is a plus, but the yellowish brown is just not at all attractive to me.
The models? Oi. What to say about the models. Is that Hank Azaria? If it is, probably major copyright violation. Even if not, I will say that the photos used here are very obviously blown up from small samples or pulled from something really low resolution. They’re super grainy and again, muddy. And by muddy I don’t mean brown, just not clean, crisp, or clear. A really, really bad masking job makes things even worse. Look at the white outline above his hair. As for her, poor thing, her shoulders have been amputated. The really abrupt chop on her right side is just weird and disturbing.
I would trash this cover and start completely over. In dynasty novels like this it’s always difficult to know what to do as far as putting people on the cover; do you do all the principals which would end up being a mob? Or no one? If it were my cover, I’d be tempted to do something with a 1920s feel, perhaps an old photo from that time, or something else symbolic rather than literal. You’d have to be careful with putting a loaf of bread, to keep it from looking like a cookbook. But I’d drop the models. I’d make the typeface more 1920s as well. Yes, spans generations but that was such a great age for beautiful, iconic design that I think you could safely do something reflecting that period and it would still work.
I hope the author doesn’t have a lot invested in this cover, because at least for me, it falls far short of the mark.