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August 1, 2011

That Was Then
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 12:07 AM * 24 comments

[Bad Blood] by Doyle and Macdonald [Hunters' Moon] by Doyle and Macdonald [Judgment Night] by Doyle and Macdonald
This is now
Bad Blood Ebook Hunters' Moon Ebook Judgment Night Ebook
Professional cover artists, you will perceive, are in no danger from me.

The first chapters of all three novels are available, free, on-line:

And, with that, I think it’s time to go back to writing new books.

The old versions of the self-published covers, for posterity’s sake:

Bad Blood Ebook Hunters' Moon Ebook Judgment Night Ebook

Also available in hardcopy from Lulu:

and for the Kindle: Bad Blood, Hunters’ Moon, and Judgment Night.

For the benefit of Google:
The Moon is Full
Beware the Beast

Discover the terrifying secret of the things that howl in the night. Explore the dark legacy of Bad Blood-in three chilling novels by Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald….

Bad Blood

It started with a group of teenagers telling scary stories around a campfire. No one believed Jay’s wild tale of moonlight and werewolves. They thought he was kidding when he said, “By morning, you’ll all be dead.” But Valerie saw the strange hunger in the boy’s eyes-and that night, she felt the sharp touch of his fangs….

Hunters’ Moon

Bitten by a werewolf, Valerie had no choice but to accept the bloodthirsty call of the full moon. Even though she vowed never to kill humans, children were being murdered in the night-drained of blood. On their necks was the mark of the vampire. Valerie knew she had to stop the creatures from killing again. But she didn’t know the vampires had the power to control werewolves….

Judgment Night

Haunted by strange, terrifying dreams, Valerie discovered an ancient force that lives in the mountains-and feeds on human fear. Like a werewolf, it has the power to change its shape. And Valerie has only one hope for destroying the evil that cries out for her soul-by facing her own darkest fears.

Comments on That Was Then:
#1 ::: Lisa Nohealani Morton ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2011, 12:23 AM:

B&N has Bad Blood as co-written by Debra Doyle and Arthur Conan Doyle. I assume that's a mistake on their part, but thought it was funny nonetheless.

#2 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2011, 12:44 AM:

It is funny.

These books were already out of print before and came along. The Amazon pages are also bizarre.

#3 ::: --E ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2011, 09:51 AM:

At least you had the good sense to make them all different colors. For most people with normal vision, that will be enough to help them remember one from the other. "Oh, I already own the red one, but not the blue one yet..."

#4 ::: Del Cotter ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2011, 10:16 AM:

Can I recommend "The Non-Designer's Design Book" by Robin Williams (not the actor)?

#5 ::: Rob Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2011, 10:34 AM:

I only dabble in publishing design (am a tech writer IRL), but I have a thought for you.

The backgrounds for your covers are great. If you matched them up with some Helvetica-style font, it would contrast with the eerie forest nicely. I'm thinking the evil chill of a Norwegian forest, perhaps?

#6 ::: Michael Walsh ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2011, 12:15 PM:

Lisa Nohealani Morton: "B&N has Bad Blood as co-written by Debra Doyle and Arthur Conan Doyle. I assume that's a mistake on their part, but thought it was funny nonetheless."

To err is human, to really screw up takes a computer.

#7 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2011, 01:20 PM:

Michael Walsh #6: Way back in high school (25-odd years ago), I was visiting a computer lab at another school, where a FOAF wanted to demonstrate the poster-printing program they'd just written, that would expand a saying into letters-made-of-letters and print it out on the school's big old printer. (We're talking green-and-white continuous-feed paper, with tractor holes on the sides.)

He asked what I wanted on my poster. I asked for "To err is human, to really foul things up takes a computer".

Naturally, it came out buggy.

#8 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2011, 02:41 PM:

The Novel"

makes it sound like a novelization of some movie.

I agree with Rob Thornton that Helvetica, or a similar sans-serif font, would work better. The current font is too fat and too large; it feels like the title is trying to hide the image behind it.

(Striking a balance between a typefont clear and bold enough to be easily readable, and a cover's visual/artisitic elements, isn't always easy. Especially when the cover image most people will see is a thumbnail image on their computer, rather than a full-size book.)

I'd also try and keep the title on one line, rather than two.

Disclaimer: I am not a graphics designer.

#9 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2011, 04:32 PM:

Bruce Arthurs @8:
The Novel"

makes it sound like a novelization of some movie.

Specifically, a movie about a man who goes on a killing spree on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island, back in 1941. Details here.

#10 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2011, 04:51 PM:

Trying to differentiate it from Bad Blood, the short story (by the same authors).

#11 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2011, 06:42 PM:

JDM #10:

Perhaps "Bad Blood" at top, then "a novel by Debra Doyle" line break "and James D. Macdonald" ? That ought to fit *and* fix the "looks like a novelization" problem.

I second Bruce A #8 about the aesthetic value of a skinnier and sans serif font. Mostly, serif fonts don't happen on mmpb covers, and if they do, they're usually all upper case.

#12 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2011, 08:06 PM:

Those are good comments about the covers. I'll re-do them shortly.

My Master Plan is, once enough money has come in from the sale of books to pay for it, to hire a real artist to design a set of covers.

#13 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2011, 08:52 PM:

I like the fonts on the original covers better. On the other hand, the new artwork works for me, while the old art looks more like a Nancy Drew album cover (not that I remember Nancy Drew ever dealing with werewolves.)

#14 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2011, 09:05 PM:

I like the new artwork a lot better - the font could, yes, be skinnier, but I wouldn't want it any smaller than the one on Judgment Night.
(I'm not really a fan of the font on the original, even though it's sort of appropriate. It's harder to read.)

#15 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2011, 09:07 PM:

The title needs to be readable on an icon 100 px high.

#16 ::: Stepehn Frug ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2011, 10:08 PM:

Professional cover artists, you will perceive, are in no danger from me.

I dunno. Like PJ Evans #14, I like the new ones better. Actually, I'll go farther: I like them *A LOT* better. Elegant, classy, simple... no contest.

#17 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2011, 04:37 PM:

My only comment is one of consistency—once you've made your changes, make sure that the title heights & sizes are the same across all three books. That way, when somebody looks across all three, the titles are at the same height and the same size, and it presents a unified look.

Damn, Now I want to play with them. I HAVE THINGS I SHOULD BE DOING. ;)

#18 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2011, 04:38 PM:

Regarding the merits of the covers:

The old ones, particularly the first, are explicit as to the intended audience. I could tell before reading any of the text that these works were for YAs or older children. Whether you regard that as a good or a bad thing...

The newer covers would not be out of place on something intended for adults.

J Homes.

#19 ::: John D. Berry ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2011, 01:20 AM:

May I may a couple of suggestions?

Close up the leading (inter-line spacing). The spacing on “Judgment Night” looks OK, but in the other two titles, the two lines look almost unconnected to each other. Since there are no descenders (bits of the letters sticking down) in the words in the first line of either of those titles, why not close up the vertical spacing until it looks right to you?

Also, keep everything either flush left or flush right. If some textual element looks like it's floating in the middle (like “The Novel” in the first cover, or “Bad Blood #3” in the third), it makes the overall effect flaccid. Make the position of every element count.

I do wonder why you didn’t simply subtitle the first book “Bad Blood #1,” but no doubt you have your reasons.

Good luck with this. As you and several others have pointed out, the cover image these days needs to look good, and communicate, at thumbnail size onscreen. I’m not sure the authors’ names will come across that way, but the title will, against the background textures.

Oh, one more thing: get rid of that typewriter apostrophe in “Hunters’.”

Okay, yet one more thing. “My Master Plan is, once enough money has come in from the sale of books to pay for it, to hire a real artist to design a set of covers.” What you want is a *designer* to design the covers, not an artist. They might be one and the same, but usually aren’t.


#20 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2011, 06:47 AM:

Perhaps it's because the covers suck, perhaps its the cover price, perhaps it's because I'm not running around spamming Twitter, Facebook, and any book-blog with an open comment thread, but sales haven't been too darned encouraging.

Sales to date, all formats:

Bad Blood 28
Hunters' Moon 9
Judgment Night 10

#21 ::: Melissa Singer sees SPAM ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2011, 11:03 PM:

nothing germane to say, heading for bed anyway.

#22 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2011, 01:48 PM:

I've put new covers on the Bad Blood series, changed the covers on my web page, and, since they're automagically-linked from Smashwords to this post, the new covers are here, too.

I might put up copies of the old self-made covers, so the earlier comments aren't totally meaningless.

Give me a minute, and I shall....

#24 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2012, 11:41 AM:

The Bad Blood trilogy as an all-in-one volume.

137,000 words. 662 pages.

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