Jazz Cover-Off

As you may have noticed, I haven’t been updating this blog as often as I used to. There’s a reason for this: I’ve been working on the cover for the e-book version of Jazz. And I need your help to choose one. Before I show you the covers, I have to give you a bit of insight into what the story is about.

Jazz is a novella I wrote back in April. I used it for inspiration during my blogging experience, because I wrote things as they happened. Now I’m at the part where I’m supposed to choose a cover, write a blurb, do the interior formatting, all that.

Jazz was pretty much inspired by a painting called Jazz Garage. It’s by a friend of mine, John Patterson. I mixed this up with a what if scenario inspired from my life, and after three weeks of writing I had this contemporary romance (sort-of) type of story about 32-33 thousand words long. After several re-writes and edits, the final product is around 27 thousand words long.

Jazz Cover #1

Of course, the painting, which in real life hangs in a living room here in Constanta, makes an appearance in the novella itself. That’s why, even though I’m a big fan of minimalistic covers, I chose to put the actual painting in the cover. It’s, more or less, a part of the story.

Jazz Cover #2

I even wrote a blurb. Wanna’ read it? Okay. It goes like this:

Set in Paris, Jazz tells the story of Chris Sommers, an aspiring writer from New York, who has always been irresistibly drawn to Amber, a mysterious and beautiful woman. She is the muse he has searched for all his life. It’s a fact, almost as irrefutable as the sun rising from the East. She’s always on his mind, always there, behind his words, trapped by a cage of punctuation marks. Then one day she leaves New York behind.

A few months later they meet again in the City of Light, where “years and years have accumulated, and now tragedies and pain reverberate across its cobblestone streets like a weary gust of wind, carrying with it an ominous melancholy.” But Chris is soon thrust into a world where everyone seems to be playing a dangerous and corrupt game and anything is permissible.

A heartbreaking portrayal of ambition, treachery, and deception, Jazz paints a deeply evocative tale in which even secrets that have been locked away inside the most hidden drawers of the soul will be revealed.

Jazz Cover #3

And now for the last cover I made:

Jazz Cover #4

So, please, help me pick a cover. Yes, I know I can’t write a good blurb, even though I’ve read everything that has ever been written about the blurb since the invention of the pen. Anyway, I’d like your opinion on these four covers, some suggestions, and, of course, I’d like to know which one, if any, you like best.

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74 thoughts on “Jazz Cover-Off

  1. I prefer cover #2. It looks like the word, Jazz, has been blown from the mouth of the sax, and I like the pigmentation of the keyboard. The text on #3 is too distracting on top. It looks much better as the foundation for the graphic. The filter on Numbers 1 and 4 bleach too much out.

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  2. I prefer the last cover too – but even better if the bottom section of type could sit higher (vertically centred within the white space).

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  3. Cristian what I like of cover #3 is that there is a better balance in the type size of the name of the book, and your name (which is a bit smaller), and the placement (on the top) looks great. If I may suggest, you can try mixing that, with how you have the image of the painting on cover #4. This image shows more of the painting, giving a more complete feel of the word jazz. But overall, if I had to chose one it would be cover #3.

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  4. Cover #1: Too light, milk-stained

    Cover #2:Looks great, except for the random splatters of whitewash.across the sax and the man's neck

    Cover #3: Everything's too out of focus.

    Cover #4:Although the woman's face is covered, which seems strange; it remains the best in terms of clarity.

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  5. Hi Cristian,

    I like your writing and my vote goes to cover number 3. Apart from that I am so glad to have found your blog because you are writing in English as your second language just like I do! I am originally from Croatia but have been living in New Zealand for a long time.

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  6. I like #3…. :)

    I have lots of trouble with blurbs too… it might be worth trying some random word cutting and reshuffling…??

    for example… maybe para one could read something like…

    Chris Sommers has always been irresistibly drawn to Amber. She is his muse: mysterious and beautiful, the inspiration for his writing, and the one thing missing from his life.

    (NB: yes, deliberate Oxford Comma… LOL)

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  7. I like cover number 3. The close up of the painting makes it jump at you. Also, I like it because it has abstract elements on the background. The other paintings, feel to busy and crammed with information. Good luck!

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  8. Cristian, this is a good start, but I think you haven't explored all the possibilities. What you present here is variations on only one theme, not multiple themes from which to choose. At first glance, the book seems to be literally about jazz (the music, history, etc.) because of the illustration. The literal connection between the title and the art is just too easy. I suppose it's hard to give up the painting if it was what inspired the book. Perhaps that's the danger of the writer designing the cover. It's as dangerous as the writer editing the book himself.

    While Jazz is a fine title, I'm certain from the blurb and your description of the story that while it might play a roll or set a feeling, it's not at the core of the work. I think the feeling of the story is probably summed up in your writing ". . . tragedies and pain reverberate across its cobblestone streets like a weary gust of wind, carrying with it an ominous melancholy." Saxophones and keyboards don't convey this. On second glance, I notice there are two people in the background of the painting, likely representing your characters, but they're nearly invisible in most of the treatments, and still only tangential in the background. The musical notes wafting from the saxophone and keyboard in the foreground say this is an illustration about music as it relates to people, not the other way around.

    I imagine the illustration to be something like a moody Brassai "Paris by Night" photo. You can still make a literal though subtle connection to jazz with an appropriate font for the title. I normally think of jazz in an upbeat sense, and this would be an excellent contrast to the image. Jazz is only four letters, and the sound of the word alone is exciting. You could really do something with it artistically for a type/illustration combination with great impact.

    I understand how this critique may feel. In college I took a creative writing class where among the other writing assignments, we were to start with a short story that our teacher would critique and help us develop throughout the entire course. All the students were handed their first drafts with constructive comments. Mine was simply marked with "Start over with a new story." So you know where my critique comes from, I've worked for more than 20 years as a graphic designer and art director for large and small publishers and self-published authors.

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    • Jazz is a pretty integral part of the story, so there's no doubt about the title. But, yes, you're right. Sometimes it's really a bad idea for a writer to design his own covers.

      Usually I experiment with a lot of ideas, pictures, all that, but with this one, I really wanted the painting in the cover, no matter what. I suppose sometimes I'm just too stubborn or something.

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  9. I like cover #2 for your story.

    1 and 3 are too vague en 4 is too clear.

    2 shows a worn down feeling like you have when you find a painting that has been in an attic decaying that in the end only shows some clear parts of what used to be.

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  10. #3 for sure….it's definitely intriguing and piqued my interest; it would make me want to pick up the book and read it! #2 and #4 seem more like poster ads for a jazz concert. #1 is too bland.

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  11. I like #1 or #4…from reading your blurb, I'd want to see a cover that evokes nostalgia and perhaps a feeling of knowing something but being afraid to reveal it…a bit of vulnerability I suppose. Nothing too literal, which I think is why I lean towards #1.

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  12. Number 3 is harmonious but almost too perfect… I would opt for number 1, less perfect, a bit distorted with very blurred colors which is more intriguing … You would like to open the book and get a look inside because the cover triggers curiosity.

    Hope this helps…

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  13. Number 4 if you get rid of 'a novel' and move the quote down slightly… 'Jazz' could be red. I think all the ones with 'a novel' would work better without it, it's kind of superfluous.

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  14. I would flip the image in cover #4 so the sax is facing the other way. Also, in design, "Make a box, break a box." Maybe make that J in jazz hang over the image or something. ACTUALLY, if you could isolate just the sax and flip it, it could be the J in Jazz. :)

    And I almost never say this, but your blurb is perfect. Roll with it. Thanks for stopping by my blog today. Glad to meet you!

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  15. I would go with #2. I feel like it gets the tone across better than the other options that this isn't just a story about music. But I do feel that you could play around with the lettering to see if you can get the mood across even more. Also, maybe play around with other color choices for the words and background. The white feels too clean for a story about ambition, treachery, and deception

    It's a beautiful painting, and there really does feel like there's a dark love story behind it. Is it watercolor?

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  16. I like the formatting of cover # 3, with the illo of cover # 4. I agree with someone earlier who talked about the flow and dynamics of the illo in # 4; it's the most engaging. And yes… a shorter blurb please! Good luck with it all

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  17. Hello Cristian. I like no #3 because it is the least representational. In this it is most true to jazz as music, in which as you know I am engaged. Images of 'jazz combining saxophones, cigarette smoke, fast cars etc. are somewhat passé would you agree? So something that suggests and intrigues is more likely to attract respectful interest and get me to read your story.

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  18. I tend to agree with Alan. Whilst I love the actual painting and the significance of it in your story, on first instance the book does appear to be literally about Jazz music. Perhaps there is a way of redesigning the cover so that the painting is still included but on a smaller scale?

    I am very intrigued by your story and also think that it's a fantastic achievement putting so many words to paper! : )

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  19. I like the splashyness of some of the earlier versions but I think four is the most resolved. Colour is a big communicatior and seeing the figures helps with the story of the picture. I feel that the line of the sax should not be interupted. In the end I guess it's all up to you, which is the best part :)

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