First attempt at a new cover for The Future, Imperfect

My last post inspired me to get to work and make some of those goals reality. Easiest first, right? And that has to be a new cover for The Future, Imperfect, even though I’m not a graphic designer. So I went searching various stock photo sites and googled tutorials for Photoshop and found this lovely, mostly-understandable tutorial on How to Give your Photos a Distressed/Grunge Effect. I have an ancient copy of Photoshop, bought used, so the instructions in tutorials are not always easy to use, since menus change and options can be different. But the tutorial did teach me how to use textures as layers to help distort photographic images for a certain effect. And then my architect / Photoshop-expert daughter helped me with the rest. This is what we came up with:

New Cover for Future Imperfect

For comparison, here’s the previous cover:


Since my sales on The Future, Imperfect have been Utterly Dismal(tm) compared to my other titles, I will probably upload the new cover no matter what. It can’t get much worse. 🙂 But I would love feedback, if anyone cares to share!

And, ah yes, writing. I’m behind on that, but marketing matters and grandmother duties take their toll. And today Mira told me, “Oma, du bist die Beste!!” (Grandma, you’re the best!) She’s not quite two-and-half years old, and she speaks mostly in complete sentences, snapping up new vocabulary like a wildwoman, understands nearly everything I say in English, even though I only have her a couple times a week, and charms the pants off me, despite her tendency to throw the kinds of temper tantrums typical of the strong-willed. But, being a grandma, I interpret that in a positive light: she’s a little alpha gal, and no one is going to get her down. Unless it’s a spider.

16 thoughts on “First attempt at a new cover for The Future, Imperfect”

  1. Don’t blame her on the spider thing 🙂

    I must say, I like the old cover, but the new one looks more dystopian to me. You’ve done well with the cover, so don’t worry about the writing – today. There’s always tomorrow 😉

  2. Ruth, I’ve got to say I loved the new cover. The previous was beautiful and modern, but I believe the new one has more appeal. It reminds me of movies such as The omega man or the (unnecessary) remake, I am legend, which I think was your intention, right?

  3. I like the added subtitle, which helps me place the collection mentally. The old cover didn’t grab me, but wasn’t bad either. This new one tells more of a story, but I’m not that excited about it. But ultimately, it’s your decision and your opinion counts the most. Keep up the great work. – Lyn

  4. For someone who’s not a graphic designer, I think you’ve got a good eye for creating appealing covers. The only thing that I would point out is that your name seems a little difficult to read (especially the “t” in your last name).

    Since the short stories are dystopian in nature, I think the new cover is definitely more likely to attract the right audience. I’d love to hear if your sales get a boost after you swap out the covers!

    1. Thanks, Michael! I took your advice and tried some effects on the title and name to make them stand out more. If this does anything for my sales, I will definitely blog about it. 🙂

  5. The new cover looks fantastic! What were some of the stock image sites you used? I would like to have a bit of a go of designing covers for myself, but I don’t really know where to start to find that sort of thing.

    1. Thanks, Emily. I got the background image from They don’t have as big a selection as a lot of other places, but their prices seem to be better.

  6. Cool! … love the subtitle too.

    I reduced it down to thumbnail size … you might want to think about plumping out the text a little so it doesn’t get lost in the grey/brown tones at that size … but other than that … cool!

  7. Hi Ruth! Well, IMHO, I find the silhouettes at the forefront a little distracting. Personally I would remove them and move your name across to fill that gap. But otherwise it looks good, and I would certainly pick it up in a bookshop to investigate more if I came across it in a bookshop.
    Graphic design is not my strong point though, so feel free to completely ignore everything I say!!

  8. I’m not quite thrilled with the new cover. The new dystopian cover doesn’t look as well-designed or thought-through as your previous green “fic lit” cover (an affectionate appellation; I adore fic lit covers!). The old cover used typographic elements that were well-balanced (though hard to read at small sizes), and it had a sense of direction, and color. The new one looks very rough and thrown together by comparison.

    The new cover does signal the genre effectively (as feedback here attests!), so I think it will be more successful than the old cover in attracting buyers. However, I think the cover could benefit from paying more attention to the typography, the distance/relationship between the title “The Future, Imperfect” and its subtitle “Six Dystopian Short Stories”.

    The bottom of the cover is pretty cluttered with the heavy silhouettes and your name smooshed next to them. It may not be the proper fix (a graphic designer never knows until they play around with it),

    but some possible things to try:

    *I don’t want you to get mad at me saying, “chuck the entire cover”, so I promise I won’t say that.

    *Think about the placement of “The Future, Imperfect” in relation to its subtitles. They should related to each other. In this case, my graphic designer gut tells me that should be centered. The left-justification / right-justification looks sloppy, because the titles are so long! If both of them took up less space, you could get fancier with the placement. But centering works best with long ones.

    *The composition is okay for a cover (there isn’t a lot of space to work with after all), but it feels dragged down. Less sky, more ground might balance it out and make the buildings look more ominous.

    *move the silhouettes up and slightly to the right so that they are not anchoring the cover to that left bottom edge so much. OR move them into the middle ground. so that they appear on the same plane as the jeep (achieved by shrinking them, allowing us to see the rest of their legs, moving them “into” the picture).

    *have your name run across the full length of the bottom of the cover (with “Nebula Aware Nominee” appearing above your name in smaller set font, as it does in the Shadow of Stone cover… Derek Murphy really nailed that placement!)

    *If the silhouettes impede the placement of your name, consider highlighting your name against the dark figures. White text with a very faint black drop shadow or stroke may work. (Black with a white outline does not look very professional–avoid if you can!–unless the effect is very masterfully executed in Illustrator.)

  9. I hope nothing I said in my last post gives offense! I just thought a graphic design perspective would be constructive and would help you consider some things to play around with when you are designing your own covers. It’s a very trying, demanding task to design a good cover.

    1. Not a problem, Tracy! I’m grateful for the professional feedback. 🙂 I showed your post to my architect daughter, the one who helps me on the covers, and it gave us several ideas how to improve it. But right now we’re both a bit strapped for time. Hopefully we’ll be able to tackle it next week.

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