Input, please!

This is an early version of the cover for my upcoming paranormal thriller.

I was thinking some demonic red eyes in the background, but I suck at covers.

Anyway, I’m not sure it conveys the essence of the story.

A cover should do that.


The story involves a small child and a some sort of being that is trying to kill her. What images say that? Blood on a doll? Red eyes against a cloud and a child playing in the foreground?

THAT is effing scary
Doesn’t get much more innocent that this!

A Google search on “blood on a doll” will bring up some reeeeeeally weird shit, so don’t go there. People are freaky.

I’m in a quandry.

Give me your thoughts!



Published by Dan Alatorre AUTHOR

International bestselling author Dan Alatorre has 17 titles published in over a dozen languages. From Romance in Poggibonsi to action and adventure in the sci-fi thriller The Navigators, to comedies like Night Of The Colonoscopy: A Horror Story (Sort Of) and the heartwarming and humorous anecdotes about parenting in the popular Savvy Stories series, his knack for surprising audiences and making you laugh or cry - or hang onto the edge of your seat - has been enjoyed by audiences around the world. And you are guaranteed to get a page turner every time. “That’s my style,” Dan says. “Grab you on page one and then send you on a roller coaster ride, regardless of the story or genre.” Readers agree, making his string of #1 bestsellers popular across the globe. He will make you chuckle or shed tears, sometimes on the same page. His novels always contain twists and turns, and his nonfiction will stay in your heart forever. Dan resides in the Tampa area with his wife and daughter. You can find him blogging away almost every day on www.DanAlatorre or watch his hilarious YouTube show every week Writers Off Task With Friends. Dan’s marketing book 25 eBook Marketing Tips You Wish You Knew has been a valuable tool for new authors (it’s free if you subscribe to his newsletter) and his dedication to helping other authors is evident in his helpful blog.

53 thoughts on “Input, please!

  1. Personally, I think the title has just the right amount of mystery. The dark tones convey the deeper elements. I am crap at covers too, so maybe don’t listen to me!

  2. Oh, yeah! My Kind of Thing – with supernatural and the eerieness of a Story.
    Love it creepy! LOL

    Sounds very good, Dan!
    I too, am just starting on a paranormal Thriller, but have not get going with it … am so, so busy with work laterly. Ugh!

    Can’t wait on this.

    1. Thanks! I wrote this before I wrote The Navigators and before I had fully grasped tension in a story. I’m currently going over it to add that.

      There are so many great scenes! And memorable characters! But even though right now it’s a good story, it’s not GREAT.

      With some tweaks, it could be great.

      So I’m tweaking it.

      But it’s awesome storytelling. I can’t get into why but people are really gonna take notice of this one.

  3. I like the idea of a child playing in the foreground and red eyes in a cloud, watching in spooky, evil way. I agree with ladieswholunchreviews, maybe a more damaged looking statue. Or, a demonic statue with bat wings…? The cover is absolutely gorgeous as is, by the way. Don’t stress, you’ll get there!

      1. I went through this with my husband’s self published books. We were fortunate that we found a local artist who got the concept of his two books immediately. Maybe what you want to do is just let it go and let the muse guide you…? Just a thought.

        1. Usually I turn it over to a cover artist and see what they come up with. Get 3 options and roll them out on the fans and see which ones the fans get behind. In this case, the artist made this based on very limited information. So while it is not a home run, there’s really nothing wrong with it. It just isn’t as eye-catching as I would like and it doesn’t necessarily represent the story super well.

  4. Looking at the cover, I thought it would be an upbeat story, so it doesn’t really convey the type of story you described. My thought is that there should be some creepiness and the portrayal of someone being hunted. I do like the idea of a faint, scary face looking down at a child.

    1. I agree. The ominous factor I need to bring to the cover is also the thing I’m trying to add to the story. Right now the story has all the right elements in place but that unnerving undercurrent isn’t fully there yet. That’s what I’m trying to add in this draft.

      Talking to you guys has really shown me some things about that cover. It’s not bad but it’s nowhere near as good as it could be. It doesn’t fully represent the story happening in the book.

      There is a scene in the movie Bram Stoker’s Dracula where Keanu Reeves is on the train and out the window there is a pair of sinister looking eyes that appear through the clouds. I think something like that, something present but subtle, would be awesome – the problem is, anything that subtle won’t be very visible on Amazon where the cover only appears an inch and a half high!

      1. Creating suspense is really tough. I try to draw out the description to cover as many senses as I can, but I’ll admit it isn’t my specialty. I figured this works due to thrillers using music and lighting for mood.

        I do like the barely visible eyes. Maybe it would work if you make them red. That or having an innocent child playing in a scary landscape. Although that sounds like a 90’s album cover.

        1. Suspense is a skill like anything else. I don’t think anybody is born with it, and since one person can learn it, we all can.

          In my book The Water Castle, I have a few really suspenseful scenes. I have one in this one that I’m particularly proud of. The trick is to look at every scene that is supposed to have suspense, and build it properly so that it does.

          1. I’ve pulled off a few in my books. Last year, I tried my hand at paranormal thriller writing and posted the book section by section throughout October. Doing a sequel this year, so I’m curious to hear if I’ve improved.

            Ever write a great scene and want to share it on your blog, but it has too many spoilers?

            1. Constantly.

              I roll it out on a few trusted critique partners and they give me their feedback, and then when they get to it in the story they can say whether it fits well. It’s hard not to want to show off your best stuff!

    2. Charles, are you going to the flight Florida writers convention in October, or the indie fest in October? Both are in Altamonte Springs. I’m going to both, and for the Florida writers conference I am going to be getting together with my two partners on writers off task with friends, Jenny Allen in Allison Maruska. Just curious if you might make the trip!

      1. I’m in New York, so I can’t make it that far. Sadly, traveling hasn’t been an option for a few years due to money and time being really limited. Altamonte Springs does bring back memories though.

  5. I really like the idea of a broken statue, or maybe a broken toy on the floor. I like the monotone nature of the colors, all grey, black, and white. You could make a play on the same idea using shadows and light in a kid’s playroom? Good luck. Sounds like a spooky story!

      1. Red letters would certainly pop against the grey scale, but I think it’s a fairly common color pallet amongst horror and suspense covers. You don’t have easy choices to make, but good luck! Are you using a specific program to design your cover?

        1. I’m not design the cover, a friend did this one and I will probably hire an artist to do the final version but I wanted to get some input on what it should look like. That’s a good idea to go to that genre and see what other people do so I can be similar but not the same possibly

  6. I’m a big fan of stone angels. This one does look innocent but there are many others that are damaged, fallen over or just sculpted with heartbreak or sadness on their faces. Maybe the angel could be holding black flowers or have a dark fog creeping around the wings. Just my ideas, of course 🙂

  7. I think the first one is more of a benevolent angel. What about something like this in the background? Just a pic I found on internet. And maybe a child in the foreground.

    Jean’s iPhone

    Jean’s iPhone >

  8. The child could be playing in the foreground with a casting shadow that is gnarled and looks like it has sharp points all aiming back at the child. The child could be the brightest thing on the cover and the rest could be shadowed and spooky. Just what first popped into my head 🙂

  9. A lot of others have already said what I’m going to say but I do like angel statue cover. But like them it doesn’t convey anything as dark as what you describe. Like others have said I’d like to see something more scary, perhaps a more damaged statue or one with a horrid face on it, something more sinister than the innocent look it has now. I think that cloud image is a little over the top though! lol
    Paranormal thriller though, you’re hitting my favourite genres Sci fi, fantasy, paranormal, thrillers…Just write something dystopian and you’ll have covered all of them 🙂 lol.

  10. Hey Dan,

    Just to provide you some background, I’m a professional graphic designer with over 25 years of experience. Over the last couple of years, I’ve helped out a friend who began self-publishing her books by designing her book covers for her. Her books have done quite well (well over 40K sales and KU downloads). In addition, she and I have started a book blog that’s been doing pretty well too. I tell you all this because I wanted to give some context to my feedback.

    So, here are my thoughts on your book cover (take ’em or leave ’em):

    1. The title is too long and there is too much text on the cover. This will create many, many typographic challenges for the designer and will only serve to create visual clutter that will hinder a potential reader from getting a quick and favorable impression of your book. A good rule of thumb is to eliminate any element that isn’t absolutely necessary.

    2. The imagery/background are very simplistic and, in my opinion, don’t communicate “paranormal thriller” in the least. It’s certainly not in keeping with similar books found within the genre.

    3. While it’s not necessarily a bad idea to solicit feedback and alternate ideas, I’d be careful about going too far down that rabbit hole. I think your time would be better served by working with a qualified design professional who will take the time to ask many detailed questions about your book, research similar book covers in the same genre (especially ones that are selling well) and maybe even read the actual book to get a feel for the characters, plot, pacing and general mood. Good design can’t be done by committee. Take my word for it. I’ve seen it attempted repeatedly throughout my career and it never (and I mean never) ends well.

    Anyhoo, sorry if this all came across overly negative. I just think book cover design is an absolutely critical part of book marketing that is often overlooked and/or discounted by indie authors. Good luck with the book.

  11. Couldn’t agree more about feedback. As long as it’s constructive and provides well considered reasoning, the content shouldn’t be discounted.

    Again, good luck with the book. Hope it does well for you.

  12. What about something like…

    A child with an angel behind her. The child is looking over her left shoulder, smiling. The angel gazes at the child, serenely, a gentle hand on the child’s left shoulder….holding a cobra in its right hand over the child’s RIGHT shoulder. Or an ax. Or a Medusa head. or a skull with a dagger through the eye socket.

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