Hugh Howey
Hugh Howey

Bestselling author of Wool and other books. Currently sailing around the world.

A Corley Cover Conundrum

Two M.S. Corley covers. One short story. How do I decide?

If you have a huge preference, let me know!

**Update** Well, that was overwhelmingly lopsided. Shows how much I know to be torn. #1 is the winner, and the new cover is already up!

WalkUpNamelessRidge_1 (1)

WalkUpNamelessRidge_2 (1)

64 replies to “A Corley Cover Conundrum”

Without knowing anything about the story, I prefer the first one. The text seems very au courant, and looks good when laid out on the background of snowy mountains. I really like it.

the first one! i like the cool colors, but at the same time, it pops without it being jarring. the second is good, but i’m feeling the first more. :)

by the way, great idea to let your readers in on this process. :)

I say choice two. The first one screams “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” to me (the poster for that movie was very similar). In reality, though, they’re both quite excellent, and I wish I could afford to hire Corley for my own works.

I really like how the first one is a visual play; the mountain within the mountain. It also has a great sort of “pulling back the drapes” revelation thing going too. Like them both, but the first really grabs me. Nice! :)

I like the top one, the typesetting is great and it seems very current. Also the way it is framed pulls me into the picture, very inviting. The second one while beautiful seems flatter.

I like the first one, just visually, but it depends on the story. The second seems more suspense-ish to me, whereas the first one seems like a more “literary” sort of cover. But again, my personal preference is for the first one. It’s just more visually interesting.

Both fantastic. I prefer the first one, although I suspect the second one would be the more striking and recognizable at thumbnail size. (Something that’s obviously pretty easy to check.)

The first, no question. In the second one, the guy is climbing, not walking (and he looks “pasted on” since he’s in the middle of a monochromatic block of darkness). And the “mountain” looks like a stock market graph.

But I can’t say I’m a fan of the font in the top one. It, combined with the box, makes it look like an eye chart where all the letters are inexplicably the same size.

The first one is atmospheric and textured. Caveat, I can’t tell at the size above what it will look like at the smaller ‘order me’ size. Throwing the ball back in your court.

Yet another vote for the first one. I think you could try it without the text box, and tweak the contrast between text and ground, as someone else mentioned upthread.

FWIW, the first cover has a more “literary fiction” feel to it for me. I don’t know if this suits the style of the story, but if not, fine with me–I’m all for blurring boundaries between “literary” and “genre”.

The red-on-black text for the author’s name on the second one is not great on the eye IMO.

These two books have two different titles. “The Walk Up Name Less Ridge” is confusing. The latter title is better.

First one, yup.

There’s something about it…some element of uncertainty or mystery that it stirs up in my head when I look at it. It hits that sweet spot where I see it and go “Ooh, I wonder what this is about…”

M.S. Corley covers!
I’ve been a silent viewer on this site for a while but it’s time to jump in the fray. I actually prefer the second one. I like the slightly more illustrated aspect.

M.S. Corley just put me on his schedule to do a cover for my recently published first novel. This just makes me all the more excited to see what he comes up with.

But hey, I’m getting a new cover because everyone hates the first one I picked out so it might not be a good idea to count my vote.

As they stand I like the lower better. If the font on the upper cover could be changed I think I’d be more inclined to like it. I don’t know what it’s called, but I’ve seen that font on way too many “hipster” posters and album covers, and for whatever reason it just turns me off.

The first one. Coloring is more captivating. And the art evokes a stronger desire to read what’s within.

The first one . . . I would try it without the dark cut-out sky at top, just the snowy range image . . . but, without reading the story,I’d say the first one . . . colors feel better . . . not sure about the warm / hot colors on the second album, but again, I haven’t read the story

To me, the first one looks like it isn’t a fiction tale, instead of the picture being shaped like a mountain, perhaps there should be other planets visible in the sky? The book does take place on another world.
Yet the second cover looks old fashioned, not bad if the book will become a classic.
Hard choice, I think if cover two was done with a picture of a real mountain slope, the red sky with a large Saturn like planet in the background, it might be my first choice….

The first one. I love the mountain shape created by the dark cut out, but I’m not so certain about the box around the words. Although if it was removed, something would probably need to be done to separate the title from your name.

The first one. Definitely. I would buy it in a nanosecond.

When it came to the second cover, I paused to see whether I liked it or not.

Makes you really wonder about the psychology behind a book cover.

In something like this, first impressions count. Which one, when you first see it, before you have time to examine and critique, will make you want to learn more. For me, this was the first cover. Upon deeper explorations, there are clearly pros and cons of each, but when the book is sitting on a shelf, or is one image amongst many on a page, the “deeper explorations” don’t matter unless the reader is attracted in the first place. Cover #1, definitely.

I definitely have to agree with everyone that picked the first cover. The layout and image used in cover 1 are absolutely breathtaking and work well together. I’m not actually a big fan of the second cover at all, and my first reaction was “No thanks”. It just doesn’t do anything for me and I have little doubt I’ll forget everything about it except that it’s red by this time tomorrow.

I feel like a voice crying in the wilderness here! I love the second one MUCH better. Why?

The first one looks like it was created by a first-semester design student who was getting B’s and C’s and was trying harder. The typography of the title is really blah. It has no life. (I was going to say “it really sucks” but since I know what that phrase actually means I try not to use it too much.)

Let’s put it this way: I would look at the sample of the book with the first cover because it had the name “Hugh Howey” on it. The second book I would look at no matter whose name was on it and no matter what genre it was.

That should tell you something.

The red one, the box outlining the title in the other one takes away from the whole thing talking up the middle of the cover, it ruined it for me.

First one is the most intriguing, although I hate splitting the words.
The second one looks like its from Samauri Jack, which may be your intent, I don’t know. ;)

The second cover pops for me – it’s striking, and tells me to expect something dark. The first feels generic and squished, and the image is more pleasant than memorable.

However, I do like how the first cover could look either like night sky surrounding a mountain or like I’m viewing the mountains from inside a cave.

My vote is for the second one. The first would ge nice on a shelf but when shrunk down to a thumbnail picture you would loose a lot of the detail and it might be a little hard to read with the white print. The second one is more bold, would still show all the detail in a smaller picture, and would look just as good on an e-ink screen. Only thing I would change is not have your name fade to black as much, it seems to get a little lost.

The second cover is more cool, but I dislike the way ‘The’ and ‘Walk’ line up on the left side. They appear unpolished stacked as they are. Also the second image, to my eye, has far too much white space. The first cover tells me more about what to expect: Snow, cold, heights, etc., and best of all it makes use of available space.

#2 all of the way Hugh.

From a professional design p.o.v. the first cover appeals to the eye (color, image) but three major points mark it as amateurish (apologies to the designer–please don’t send me hate mail). What follows will be actual thoughts from my brain:

1) The inverted image of mountains and sky catches the eye, and then hurts it. It makes no sense to the brain. (Inside my pea-sized brain: “Wait! Is that a mountain? Where is the top? No dummy! That is a simulation of a mountain, but the mountain and sky make up the mountain. But why is there a clear photograph of mountains and sky, and crappy white dots on an ugly blue background that is supposed to be the nighttime sky?”)

Point: “I don’t get it. I won’t buy it.”

2) It looks like an eye chart. I HATE eye charts! They remind me of the DMV. That reminds me of the lines at the DMV, and how I should bring a book. Well, why not this book? Oh! Nameless Ridge. I hate eye charts.

Point: “Don’t make me think. There are other books on the market. Give me simplicity. Give me a cover that says “You will like this book.”

3) A short story (first thing I see). “So?” Okay, so short. Does that mean it is 99 cents? I hate short ebooks that run 74 pages and cost $4.99 or more. I wonder what this book is about? The Himalayas? And what does the cover have to do with the title? I see several ridges there.

Point: I am still confused. I don’t like making buying decisions when I am confused.

Okay, so cover number two (thoughts):

UGH! I HATE IT! Oh, wait . . . I like the layout. That is kind of cool how he did the “X” thing, with the Title/Author and the jagged line of a ridge. Wow, that red looks awful, but it catches my eye. I wonder what it would like like in blue. Wow, “Hugh Howey” Nice gradient. Damn! I wish I had thought of that. Oh yeah, I don’t write novels. Still, I have never heard of this guy “Hugh Howey,” but he must be a “real author,” I can tell by the cover. It is professionally designed. I wonder if that would look better in gloss or matte. Wow, that poor nameless guy on he mountain. Nameless, Nameless Ridge. I get it. I’d pay $3.99 for that. Holy crap! It’s 99 cents? Oh hell, what’s 99 cents. I want to see what this is about. Hmm.. maybe the red isn’t so bad. I really like the “Hugh Howey” part. I wonder who designed his cover.

(Note, if it was the same person whom I had insulted above, I hang my head in shame).

Go with your gut Hugh, but there is just no contest. The first is prettier, but there is no congruency. The second one looks EXACTLY like what I would expect to pick up at the airport on an impulse buy before a long flight. Personally, I am not hot on the stripey gradient (red/black? Seriously? I have a napkin–can I just wipe the dirt off of your cover a moment? I promise I will give it right back).

Okay, so I am a jerk. This is my “professional” opinion. I really have read none of your books (sorry, you really seem like a cool guy). I will buy this now on Amazon, no matter what cover it is. I want to see why everyone likes you so much, and the title is catchy and the cover supports it. I already feel a sympathetic bond with that guy hacking his way into the rock, up the steep ridge, one precarious foothold at a time.

And as to covers: “oh my god” some of my oldest book covers embarrass me far more than anything I have seen here, so I am no “perfect pretty princess.” Anyway, thanks for allowing me to comment on this. I hope it helps. Okay, off to Amazon.

Nice pick! Personally, my vote would have been with the Second Cover, though, Hugh.

I know it’s been chosen as the winner, but here’s a trick I’d apply to the First Cover. Please squint your eyes and look at the first cover. When I squint at it, the White’s, Gray’s, & Yellow’s all melt together. There isn’t much contrast there. Squinting at an image is a nifty trick to simplify what you’re looking at and to see what colors might be a bit too similar to each other (the white ‘The’ in particular, I feel is a bit hot against the backdrop).

When I do the ‘squint test’ to your Second Cover, however, there’s a bunch of contrast. I squint and I see Red, White, & Black. It’s graphic and bold and nothing in the composition melts into each other. Even the hiker, when I squint, pops out even though he’s small potatoes in the overall composition.

Both are fine covers, but I always tend to lean toward graphic over subtle images. The first one is a fine choice overall & I’m looking forward to reading it!

Your ‘squint’ test is genius, the second cover really stands out when you squint. I will use this method in the future. I think if a cover passes the squint test, it will aslo stand out from a distance where all covers are a little foggy…

Hmm, ‘overwhelming’? Maybe at first, but the second cover seems to be growing on people. I printed the second cover, when I buy the book I will glue it over the winning cover, lol.

I prefer the top image with less crowded type, if that’s possible. Keep the box, but dial the type back and don’t split words.

The first one all the way. That being by a landslide. The reason why the first one because I think it’s definitely more beautiful. They’re both great covers, don’t get me wrong. The second one is minimalistic and interesting, but the first one seems more fitting for you.

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