SEARCHING FOR MALUMBA cover question/reveal

These are both roughs; I think the image is happening but I’m not convinced about either the font or the text placement.  Anybody have suggestions?  (“Scrap the whole thing” is a fair suggestion, by the way.)  You can click for a higher-res version but I think you get the idea.

Also, weird– the yellow on the right looks darker to me right now.  It’s exactly the same.  The only differences are caps vs. lower case.

Malumba cover rough lowercase  Malumba cover rough


EDIT: After reading the first couple of comments, let me take a second and explain my thinking here: this is my first (probably only) nonfiction book.  It’s going to be about teaching, and it is mostly, but not exclusively, drawn from blog posts.  About half of the material in it is on this very blog.  I do not expect, even in comparison to my other books, that this one will sell very well, and I’m mostly doing it as a vanity project.

That said: I need something that screams “teaching!” when it’s the size of a couple of postage stamps on Amazon’s website, and thus the simple image of the broken pencil, which frankly fits my feeling about teaching right now anyway.  The font choice is because I like the simplicity and the humility of it, although I think my second commenter is right that it does look a little low-rent and I may need to jazz it up a bit.

There will be a print and ebook edition; I have no illusions that anyone other than me will ever buy the print edition.  I’ll print half a dozen of them to have some with me at cons and I suspect I won’t have to reorder that often.  🙂

Also, the image was purchased from, which means that I can’t just arbitrarily rotate the pencil or change the background color.  Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to  hear those types of suggestions– if the cover is bad, it’s bad, and I want to hear that– but understand that when you suggest that you’re saying “redo the entire cover,” not “alter this in Gimp.”

(All that said: my wife hates the cover, so if you feel the same, please don’t hesitate to tell me.  If everyone thinks this is a misfire I’d rather know now.)

20 thoughts on “SEARCHING FOR MALUMBA cover question/reveal

  1. The yellow on the right looks darker to me, too. I like the text on that one better, though. (Looks more like an adult’s handwriting, maybe?) Without knowing what this book is about, other than that it’s nonfiction and has something to do with education (?), I think this sparse/streamlined cover works well. (MAYBE experiment with slightly different placement of the halves of the pencil, like having them not quite parallel to each other, but then again, perhaps the current placement is significant to a theme in the book — I could see that being a possibility. Eh. It’s almost 5 in the morning here, I have not slept yet, and I’m somewhat inclined to blather about things about which I have no reason to claim a clue. Feel free to ignore everything except “Good covers — I like the text on the right-hand one better.”)


  2. I think that this cover looks at this stage as made 10 or 15 years ago before professional graphic design era. The yellow background does not match the yellow pencil. Also the choice of the font is quite bad (looks a bit like Comic Sans from first editions of MS Office).
    Recently I found quite cool service: maybe it’s worth trying.
    But if you want to work on this cover I recommend:
    – searching trough Google fonts to find something more modern
    – changing the background to a creamy piece of paper with visible signs of being used
    – changing the placement of title and author name
    Another question is: how this cover matches your story? Is it a metaphor of something you are writing about? Because now it looks a bit random. I would definitely give someone this book to read and ask how he/she imagine what you describe there in an abstract way or smth.
    Good writing needs really good cover!


  3. I prefer the one on the left. Mainly because the title isn’t all CAPITALISED! 😉 Looks more natural, unless it’s supposed to corrolate with the image of the broken pencil. The color did initially look darker on the right but I found looking at different angles made them the same color or also the one on the left darker – trick of the light I suspect. Tell you one thing though, I can’t be arsed to over-analyse it and don’t think you should either. Go with your own gut feeling. Deep down you know which one will be right. P.S. It’s the one on the left…


  4. The reason the yellow looks different from one side to the other is the light is coming from one side. Just that little bit of angle and distance makes a difference. Just one of those things that drives photographers nuts.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I would really try to come up with something else. Check this fiverr website it looks quite cool. Anyways recently we helped two authors with the covers.
    This one:
    And this one:
    They are not professional designs, it’s just something we came up with, well actually Tomek did.
    If you submit your work to you can ask him for help, maybe we could come up with something cool.
    Anyways my ideas for the “teaching team”:
    – variation about “Detachment” (
    Or something abstract:
    or others from this portfolio:


  6. I wouldn’t have thought this book was about teaching. I would have thought it was about being a student. I don’t think the font works at all. And to not only comment with the negative, I will add that I would buy this book regardless, but that’s because I’ve read your other books and your blog posts and enjoy them.


    1. I found a few images like that, but they struck me as a nightmare to put text over and looked too generic. Haven’t abandoned the idea yet but haven’t found the right image either.


  7. You need more than the pencil. You need an apple, chalk, or some other symbol that defines the concept further. Just the pencil is too vague and can mean many things.


  8. After reading the comments, reading what you had to say about what it’s about and what you’re using, and knowing the way I feel when I read your blogs I came up with this: the broken pencil seems to symbolize the frustration you’ve been feeling and it’s a good start, but the fact that it’s so neatly laid (did I use the right word?) together doesn’t work. I originally liked the font on the left and after reading that it’s about teaching still thought it was the better choice. But again, if it’s a feeling of frustration that you’re going for the font on the right would be better as many in the online community associate that with yelling. Perhaps a different color pencil or background might emphasize that more. Maybe a bolder text.

    Of course, I may be completely off the mark on this. But for what it’s worth….


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