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Hi guys, I'm producing a book cover for a family friend for her to use on kindle self publishing. It's not a paid project, just a favour and a chance for me to practice working on a real project.

I produced a page of thumbnails with different text layouts and image ideas, the author chose the one I'm posting, so the general picture in the middle and the position of the text has been set (ish, it can change but she was happy with this so far).

What I need help with is ideas to make it more polished and professional looking. The picture in the middle I will develop it more, it's just a rough so I can show her some progress.

The main problem is that it looks to me like a religious pamphlet or something. It's a book about recovery and drug / alcohol addiction. The circle of 12 people represents the 12 steps of the AA, I used a circle since it's solid for composition and kind of represents the light, inner part of the circle with a network of supporting friends which contrasts with the darkness outside of the circle.

The author wanted something uplifting, which I'm sure can be done with the right colour choices.

In a nutshell, I need help / advice about
1) Text - font, formatting (making it look more professional)
2) colours to give it an uplifting look
3) anything else anyone can say in terms of crits or advice.

Thank you!

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Update on this one, just playing around, no real focus apart from making it look more professional and getting more circles in there, still need to play around with the text a bit.

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Hey Jonny,

I'm no expert on graphic design, but I've been designing tshirts at my day-job for the past year and I've picked up a few things about text layout so I hope my suggestions help...

I would suggest centering the author's name. Since it's the only text that's off center it makes it feel a little unbalanced.

Also, I would treat the author's name the same as the title, the author's name should be just as important as the title, so they should have the same amount of focus. I think treating the subtitle the way you've currently treated the author's name would be a good idea too.

Lastly, just am idea...but maybe have lines going straight across the center of the circle connecting each person to the on opposite to them. I think it might reinforce the idea of connected/togetherness, and that they're all on a journey to the same goal. Might be a bit of a stretch but just an idea.

Hope this helps!

Also, I really like the photo you used because it makes the cover look really cool, but it feels like it's advertising a thriller novel, yet the title doesn't feel like that's what it's about. Do you mind if I ask what kind of book it is?
Hi Mike, thanks for the reply and the comments! I'll take your suggestions and develop it a bit more with the authors name and subtitle and focus and stuff. The background is a lens flare effect with various blur / colour burn layers (from an online tutorial) so connecting the figures with lines across the circle is certainly doable, I'll try that out and see how it looks.

I had the same feeling too that the background is kinda dramatic and looks more like a novel cover - the book is about drug / alcohol addiction, it's a true story of the author's life but written in a narrative way (she writes in third person and gives her character a different name, although I haven't actually read it!).

I spent about an hour in Illustrator formatting the text and got it looking really good but then it crashed on save and didn't have a recovery file - so kinda gutted and haven't worked on it since then.

I'll play around with it some more, maybe try and tone down the background a bit, less saturation / contrast, and overall brighter values maybe and will post back here when it's done.
Time to work on this some more, any advice or suggestion would be awesome.

Still need to do the text but this is working on the background. All the elements are on different layers, can easily be moved, hidden, combine ideas, more stuff added, changed as well as the colours can be controlled pretty easily so edits are easy - so please, tell me anything!

I put all the options on one image then added them bigger below.

Thanks in advance!

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Adding another one based on some feedback from Skype:

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Hey Jyonny, a muchly improvement from the first iteration. A couple of things I noticed:

1. I prefer the blue background. The soothing colour and less contrast gives a better sense of hope than the dark background and warm colours.
2. The author's name really has to be more visible. All the ones where it is the light gray just aren't visible enough.
3. The funky warped text effects are kinda naff and powerpoint 1.0. I'd stay away from them and use a simple font. Sometimes a good way to juxtapose and create interest in text in graphic design is to use contrasting font types; so you use a sans-serif against a serif. Not sure if this applies to a book cover because there isn't a lot of text, but it can break it up nicely. So you use a sans serif for the title and a serif for the subtitle or author's name.
4. Pick fonts that are easy to read. The last example is not a good one.

In terms of a way forward, I like #6 the best, but with a blue background instead, and I might tone down some of the bright flares, except perhaps the one next to the author's name. Play with the fonts and see if you can get something simple working. Stay away from heavy text effects, they tend to distract. And since this is about a circle giving power to someone with addiction (I guess), how about the idea of the addicted person floating as a focal point in the centre of the circle (unless I am misinterpreting the reasons for the circle)

That's all I got so far. Iterate again and perhaps more will come out!
Push it man.
thanks a lot for the comments Amit, was getting a bit lost with all this, you've given me some more focus on what to do next. Will post up when I do some more.