Thu 05

Choose the Machine Man cover!

Machine Man Something wonderful happened the other week: my editor asked what I thought about a proposed Machine Man cover. To appreciate how wonderful this is, you need to understand the usual process of publisher-author cover consultation. It goes like this:

  1. Publisher develops cover in secret laboratory guarded by Dobermans
  2. Publisher emails author a JPEG, accompanied by text emphasizing how much everyone they’ve shown this image to loves it and believes it to be a surefire winner
  3. Publisher puts image on the cover

You notice there are no steps where the author does anything. I have tried to insert that step in the past, first with Syrup and then Company, but without much success. (To be fair, I was wrong about Company. That is a great cover. I was right about Syrup, though.)

This time, however, my editor at Vintage was ready for discussion. I don’t know why. I didn’t want to ask in case that accidentally provoked him into regaining his senses. But I made a few suggestions, even mocked up prototypes of my own, and Vintage responded with even more images.

Then I became really arrogant and demanding. It was around this point I realized why publishers don’t involve authors in cover discussions. Because I still wasn’t really in love with any of the cover ideas we had. And the cover is so important. Not just because it helps sales (although there is that): it also colors the story within. It’s the first thing you see and it stays with you as you turn the pages.

So next we brought on board indy designer Matt Roeser. This guy is incredibly talented and has somehow not been hired by anyone yet: this is potentially his first gig. Go look at his website; it’s beautiful. Anyway, once Matt had done his thing, we had six potential covers. Since I was already being a prima donna, I said, “I should post this online and ask people what they think.” And Vintage agreed! Like I say, it’s crazy. So here we are. Behold!

Here are larger versions of each image: 1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · 6.

Now we reach the part where you tell me which you like. There’s a comment link right there. I also posted to Reddit, because that’s where I drew a lot of inspiration for my main character’s personality. I’m not saying the site is full of misunderstood technology-obsessed geeks who would chop off their own hands if they could replace them with something WiFi-enabled. I’m just saying it was very helpful creatively. Also, I thought it was important to get opinions from people who don’t already like me. You’re wonderful people, you who visit me here. But you’re one hell of a sampling bias.

Please let me know what you think! Any and all feedback is much appreciated. And thank you to Vintage for being cool enough to let me do this. INSANELY COOL, if you know what I mean. I’m emphasizing INSANE. Oh. You got that? Okay.


This is where site members post comments. If you're not a member, you can join here. There are all kinds of benefits, including moral superiority!

Cory Lavalette (#52)

Location: Raleigh, N.C., USA
Quote: ""When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops?""
Posted: 4819 days ago

I'm going with No. 4.

Mike (#5397)

Location: Australia
Quote: "5 rooms, including ceilings, painted for $5000"
Posted: 4819 days ago

#5 is my clear favourite.

#1 and #2 have been done to death.
#3 meh
#4 looks like a Dick Francis novel
#6 looks like a pop-sociology text

Erin (#1481)

Location: Seattle
Quote: "Living is easy with eyes closed"
Posted: 4819 days ago

I love numbers 2 and 5. Three is far too busy for me. Can't wait to get this in print!

Lauren Delgado (#5385)

Posted: 4819 days ago

I like 3

Qaaolchoura (#226)

Location: Korea
Quote: "Treason never prospers, and what is the reason? If it does prosper then none dare to call it 'treason'"
Posted: 4819 days ago

#2, absolutely. I don't know why, it just looks ...right, somehow.

I can tell you exactly why the others look wrong though: #1 looks clunky, #3 looks like it's a collection of columns (probably by Dave Barry), #4 and #6 look like they're hack thriller novels. #5 looks like you think you're Franz Kafka. Which makes it my second choice, actually.


Jennifer Gniadecki (#3308)

Location: Chicago-ish
Quote: "Happier than you and dragging you along for the ride"
Posted: 4819 days ago

I would buy #4.

The other ones remind me of either Max Headroom or..I don't even know what. very, very 80s faux-retro. Or something. I can't put my finger on it but only #4 had me singing, "One of these things is not like the others..." but in a GOOD way.

Thank you!!

Michael Fiedler (#1318)

Location: Lincoln, NE
Posted: 4819 days ago

#5 for sure. #4 comes in a close second, but go with #5.

ProfessorCFK (#5400)

Location: Washington, DC
Quote: "Freedom is an assault rifle"
Posted: 4819 days ago

Gotta go with #5, none of the other ones really do it for me.

Machine Man subscriber Narflz (#2594)

Location: St. Louis
Quote: "WARNING: Extended Use Of Narflz May Cause Explosive Diarhea"
Posted: 4819 days ago

I'd go with #5.

I really like #1, but I don't think its a great fit.
#2 is my second choice.
#4 and #6 are both solid and interesting.
Not a huge fan of #3.

Machine Man subscriber seanadelph (#4149)

Location: Philadelphia
Quote: "In this world, a man himself is nothing. And there ain't no world, but this one."
Posted: 4819 days ago

I have to go with either number 4 or 5.

1, 2, and 3 are trite/overdone design-wise, and 6 just doesn't grab me.

Put a gun to my head and make me choose, I go with 4.

Machine Man subscriber Topher Cox (#3402)

Location: Colorado
Quote: "Fiend is like Friend without the "R.""
Posted: 4819 days ago

#5 is the best.

#1 and #2 don't seem unique enough.
#3 is much too busy looking.
#4 I had to look at the thumbnail a second time to realize that was a capacitor and not a bullet casing.
#6 just didn't really do anything to catch my eye.

Jamie Cucci (#5401)

Location: Chicago, USA
Posted: 4819 days ago

#5. One word: mustache.

We've only seen the first few chapters, so I'm basing this on aesthetics alone.

Cyma Khan (#3719)

Quote: ""With a gun barrel between your teeth, u can only speak in vowels." - TYLER DURDEN - Fight Club"
Posted: 4819 days ago

#1 is perfect.
#2 is runner up finalist.

#6 isn't bad either.

#3 is very 'diary of a shop-a-holic-ky
#4 is very who-dun-it novelish

Wolfgang (#1368)

Location: Berlin, Germany
Posted: 4819 days ago

#3, I think, despite it being a little busy.

#4 would be my second choice, but preferably without the "Author of Jennifer Government" bit.

WhispersOfALostGirl (#5398)

Quote: ""I reject your reality and substitute my own""
Posted: 4819 days ago

I have to go with number 6.

I agree with Mike that 1 and 2 have been done to death. 3 is too busy. The cover isn't really recognizable enough for number 4. And 5 gives me a feeling of deja vu, like I've seen that before.

Tim K (#788)

Location: California
Posted: 4819 days ago

How many fans will be saying, as I am tempted to, nice tries, but here is what I think it should be?
That would only add to your problems, so I will vote for #6. It has the advantage of avoiding the Scott Smith quote which, while well intentioned, smacks of damning with faint praise. Moving by the final chapter? The implication might be that the novel takes for ever to click into gear. If I were a casual reader and not an avid fan, I would not pay good money based on such a weak recommendation.
Elements of cover #5 work for me. Either the retro image with robot legs, or the stick figures chasing robo-stick figure. Having both is too busy. (And, of course, minus the quote.) Good luck and thanks for all you write and blog.

Machine Man subscriber FatRat (#4221)

Location: England
Quote: "Don't Panic"
Posted: 4819 days ago

Number 5 is my favourite

Machine Man subscriber Kyle (#3321)

Location: Burnie, Tasmania
Posted: 4819 days ago

#1. The rest suck.

Niccalo (#2313)

Location: Duluth, GA
Quote: ""STOP! Don't Shoot!""
Posted: 4819 days ago

2 ... i don't like the cartoony legs in 5.

Jim (#2280)

Location: New York
Posted: 4819 days ago

# 5 is really nice. I guess you cant do a poll like the new ones on Facebook? Looking forward to reading this in a linear way.

Thomas (#1221)

Location: Germany
Quote: "One more, and I'm going to consider you my penpal."
Posted: 4819 days ago

#1, but without the code snippets. #5, while the man part is awesome, looks like an O'Reilly edition. That might be on purpose, but I think it would turn many people away before they have even looked at it closer.

syrup6 (#1224)

Location: Arkansas
Quote: ""Truth always rests with the minority, and the minority is always stronger than the majority, because the minority is generally formed by those who really have an opinion" - Kierkegaard"
Posted: 4819 days ago

Excellent job on all counts, but I'd have to go with #4. It says 'buy me'.

Justin (#2009)

Location: Halfmoon, NY
Quote: "Max(x) is awesome!"
Posted: 4819 days ago

I like 6 and 3, in that order. 2 is ok, not all that excited about the others.

Jeff Wishart (#2742)

Location: Canada
Quote: "Everything in moderation, even moderation."
Posted: 4819 days ago

Number 5 is the most memorable for me, and so it's my pick.

Machine Man subscriber Mike Kowols (#3435)

Location: Des Plaines, IL
Posted: 4819 days ago

Go with cover 5. It's definitely an attention grabbing image.

Aaron the Evil HR Guy (#2252)

Location: Denver
Quote: "'The HR Department is a breeding ground for monsters' Michael Scott"
Posted: 4819 days ago

#1: looks like the artist forgot to color in the pant leg.
#2: probably my favorite: it has that classic sci-fi look
#3: too busy
#4: what the hell is that thing?
#5: not bad
#6: probably my second choice
regardless of which one gets chosen, make sure your name is BIG, like in #6! I think your reputation as a writer is the biggest selling point.

Machine Man subscriber Scolopendra (#3998)

Location: San Diego, CA
Quote: "Hrowar!"
Posted: 4819 days ago

#1. It's subtle, simple and also highlights the "corporate drone" theme in the book while still having the robot leg motif. It seems closest to the 'simple iconic image with plot resonance' that worked for /Jennifer Government/ and /Company/.

#2 looks to be more about robot uprisings than cyborganics, #5 is a bit too blatant about actually giving away plot (he's gonna get shot at! While running!). #4 and #6 could be about anything regarding THE HORRORS OF TECHNOLOGY and I don't remember any scenes centering around a burnt out chip or transistor. #3 is just a cluttered mess and the less said about it the better.

Steve (#2499)

Location: Michigan
Quote: "Max Barry's writing rocks. And he didn't even pay me to write that."
Posted: 4819 days ago

I like the style of #4 the best, but -- surely revealing my ignorance on something -- don't understand what that piece is on the front. If the style were combined with a machine leg (not a cartoon style), this would be my pick.

But without modifications to anything, I'd pick #5. I agree that I wish the legs looked more realistic than cartoony. But if the covers can't be changed, this would be my pick.

Machine Man subscriber ba (#4191)

Location: NYC
Posted: 4819 days ago

I would go with 4, 3 as a second choice. 1 and 2 are too twee, 5 is ok, and 6 is a lamer version of 4.

Machine Man subscriber Electrichead (#3898)

Location: Toronto
Posted: 4819 days ago

#1 seems to be the best one for me. Regardless of what you go with, though, I'd like to see that "word frequency" image you had somewhere in the book. I think it would be a killer thing for books to have it on say, the back cover. It could supplement the buying process :)

Chris McBride (#1977)

Location: Belfast, N.Ireland
Quote: "Plagiarism saves thinking time"
Posted: 4819 days ago

Number 1 'tis my favourite.

Joshua Smith (#1968)

Location: Oregon, USA
Quote: ""I have a dream...I want to be famous. Really famous." - Scat, Syrup"
Posted: 4819 days ago

I prefer #4 and #6. Can't quite decide between them.

Machine Man subscriber Paul (#4154)

Location: Minneapolis
Posted: 4819 days ago

I would say #4 and #6 are a close tie. They are great! I would say that the top of the capacitor should be blown out for it to be smoking (on #4), but that's really just nitpicky.

I'd buy both in a second off the shelf, but I'd lean towards #4.

Ben Moss (#109)

Location: New York, NY
Posted: 4819 days ago

2 & 3 are my favorites. You should set up a real poll!

Machine Man subscriber Henry J (#4185)

Location: Pasco, WA
Posted: 4819 days ago

#1 is my favorite. #2 a close second.

Chelsea (#5402)

Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posted: 4819 days ago

1 and 2 are the best. simple. no extra thought needed to grasp the concept. but definitely NOT 3! it's too busy and makes me want to turn away. 4 looks a little like it will actually be teaching about electronics. the others would work.

Phil Schroeder (#5336)

Location: Indianapolis
Posted: 4819 days ago

As a fellow designer I'd say 2 and 3 are going to be the most eye catching when on display at a store. Which honestly should be a consideration, but you know that since you know marketing and what not. I personally prefer 3 though. I can see where people might think it is a tad misleading as far as what the design conveys about the content but I don't think the average consumer thinks that far. Your first hook is to get them to notice the book and pick it up. Then they can read the dust jacket and see if it sounds like something they want to read. They aren't going to think about the correlation of design and content. Outside of that I do like 4 and 5. And it appears many like 5. But for me it just simply isn't eye catching enough. I REALLY like it but I don't want to see your book drop to 178,942 on the amazon best seller list because people never notice it. So while cool, ultimately doesn't catch the eye enough from a design standpoint I'd say.

Machine Man subscriber John (#394)

Location: Work, Maryland, USA
Quote: "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And sometimes that cigar is ploughing your mother."
Posted: 4819 days ago

#1 is my favorite. I think it'd be better if the guy was human, rather than cartoon; the contrast between man and machine would be more visceral that way, I think.

Bill Lunsford (#5368)

Location: Atlanta, GA
Quote: ""Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I'll meet you there.""
Posted: 4819 days ago

i'm gonna go with #4. it feels right.

Chris (#3164)

Quote: ""I ate a bug when I was a kid.""
Posted: 4819 days ago

#1 Reminds of something Douglas Coupland might use.
#2 I enjoy. It's subtle, and makes you take another look when you realize he's holding a leg.
#3 Reminds me too much of another cover of an author I can't remember.
#4 is meh. I'm not really sure what it is, I can only assume it's some malfunctioning machine part.
#5 is good. But the image looks kind of chicken-ish. However the blue title looks very good with it.
#6 nah.

David Needham (#3566)

Location: USA
Quote: "I would gladly give what I cannot keep to gain what I cannot lose."
Posted: 4819 days ago


Then 2. I love the texture / feel of the background - I'd recommend that on any of them.

Machine Man subscriber Katrina (#847)

Location: SF, CA
Quote: "Good sex is like good Bridge: if you don't have a good partner, you'd better have a good hand." -- Mae West"
Posted: 4819 days ago

I like 1 and 5. Personally I think 1 is cuter than 5, but 5 has more story aspects to it which is nice.

3 is way too busy for me. 2 doesn't quite convey the human aspect, it's just a robot. And 4 and 6 just seem more like computer stuff.

I'd also be curious what the spine looks like. Half the time I pass over a book that I can't easily read the title or author for, but ones with cute little graphics are interesting and possibly prompt picking it out to look at it.

Machine Man subscriber Jeff Holcomb (#5268)

Location: Salem, MA
Quote: "That which doesn't kill us really pisses us off."
Posted: 4819 days ago

Definitely #5. Perhaps it's the mustache, maybe the cartoon Contours, but more likely the blue title bar obscuring the transition between man and machine. Makes you want to crack the book open to find out.

P.S. Never having read any Max Barry before, I pulled Company off the shelf in a Barnes & Noble based purely on the donut cover. Despite what anyone says, good covers do help sales, and bad ones hurt them.

Lucia (#2068)

Location: France
Quote: "She is so very bitch!!"
Posted: 4819 days ago


Machine Man subscriber Ulluru (#4353)

Location: Germany
Posted: 4819 days ago

I'd go for
#6 or maybe #4. The burnt IC-Chip(maybe a microcontroller?) just seems to be a good symbol for the character. The burnt Capacitor doesn't give anything to me. (Does it show that I am studying Electrical Engineering?)Probably someone who doesn't would just see a book for the repairing of circuit boards or something.(but then it would be in the novel section, so it raises interest)

You know what would be cool if you used a slightly changed version of the "XYZ... for dummies" cover (other color, a robot instead of a man, title: "Making yourself a MACHINE MAN for dummies(or pros)".

I just hate that if the Book will be translated in German the publisher will probably change the cover and the title. Good reason to buy it in english? Yes it is!

richard (#4621)

Location: USofA
Quote: "Random (@function(12*32)+1 Donut = Company......"
Posted: 4819 days ago

I like 4 the best but would make 1 change:use the text from 4 with the picture from 6.

#3 and #5 remind me of Monty Python's imagery with with the "foot" in 3 and the "man" in 5.

#2 makes me think of Lost In Space's robot...."Danger Max Barry, Danger..."

#1 I just don't like....

Please pass along to Matt Roeser that he is a brave designer to open up his images to hacks like us!! Well done!

Angela Pyke (#3874)

Location: Nottinghamshire
Posted: 4819 days ago

6, it's not a plot spoiler and looks similar to other covers by Max Barry.

Machine Man subscriber Brooks Elms (#5146)

Location: Los Angeles
Posted: 4819 days ago

5 by far

Machine Man subscriber Adam (#4052)

Location: Cincinnati, OH
Quote: ""I hate quotations." - Ralph Waldo Emerson"
Posted: 4819 days ago

I think #1 is perfect. It's unique, clever, a little funny, and intriguing... just like the story contained within.

While I like the others, they don't stand out to me the way #1 does. I would stop and pick up #1 at Barnes & Noble to see what the heck it's about. I might not go out of my way for the others.

Stjepan Vlahovich (#2990)

Location: Columbus, Ohio, USA
Posted: 4819 days ago

I prefer # 3, though I can't say I'm wild about any of them.

Machine Man subscriber Gareth Ablett (#4348)

Location: Chichester - UK
Quote: "RT 4348 Gareth Ablett Chichester - UK"
Posted: 4819 days ago

i would say #5 but I imagined a weedier man but also like #2

Brittany O. (#1688)

Location: Montana
Quote: "people are kind of overrated "
Posted: 4819 days ago

2 or 4, though I am leaning towards 4 because that kind of follows the line of the other novels, mostly white, etc.
2 is kinda fun but less white.
NOT 3 as it reminds me of something Chuck P would have on his novel, though he is cool and you technically are considered the same 'genre'- but no.

Machine Man subscriber Jeff (#787)

Location: Berlin, Deutschland
Quote: "Give a man a match and he'll stay warm for the rest of the day; Set a man on fire and he'll stay warm for the rest of his life."
Posted: 4819 days ago

5 - I'd see that and wonder what kind of weird stuff is going on in this book.

Jonny Rueda (#3383)

Location: New York, NY, USA
Quote: ""I am far away from everything I took for granted""
Posted: 4819 days ago

It has to be #5!

Hobbie (#1359)

Location: Cornwall, England
Quote: "There was a little man in his hair!"
Posted: 4819 days ago

Number 5. No question. If I saw that in the shop and didn't know who you were Max, I'd pick that up.

Nick W (#3817)

Location: El Paso, TX, USA
Quote: "Good is the enemy of Great is the enemy of Good..."
Posted: 4819 days ago

I have to say that #5 would be the winner for me, if you remove those little stick-men across the top of the blue bar. They distract from the clever brilliance of the idea.

Otherwise, #2 is very much a winner.

Keely (#1602)

Location: of course!
Quote: "I always wanted to see the lights of Broadway... but then you get there and they're really kind of annoying."
Posted: 4819 days ago

I prefer #1, #2, and #3.

But I'd be cool with #5 as well. It's the Unmentioned Others that I really don't like.

Monica Murphy (#5396)

Location: Midland Ontario
Quote: "What was i saying?"
Posted: 4819 days ago

i prefer #5, partly, i have to be honest, because i'm wondering what's under the blue stripe...
but, yes, that's my fave. Although, i have to say i also like #3, even if its a bit busy looking. It caught my eye, although there are no naughty bits to wonder about.

Machine Man subscriber tim (#3234)

Location: chattanooga, TN, USA
Quote: """
Posted: 4819 days ago

Yo Max! I'm glad you asked specifically for my advice because you know I'm always there for you.

# 5 sets the darker tone and provides a good visual for the robo-legs. However, the character in the book strikes me as a 90lb weakling kind of guy vs. teh fit early american circus entertainer found in the cover art. I realize the cover guy is not supposed to represent the character but it would hard to keep from thinking of the picture while reading the story. Like in Syrup... I kept flipping to the cover trying to reconcile my internal image of Six with the character walking away on the front. So maybe keep the robo-legs and add a nervous looking skinny guy to the top half.

# 3 looks like a palahniuk cover...Chuck's readers are probably alot like your readers so maybe that's the ticket.

I like the ocular devise on # 4 but people will probably think it's a loupe and assume the book is about a jewel thief.

# 6 has promise... I think the "Better Future" logo sets the tone well... in that whatshisname is looking for a better future through his augmentations.

I'm going to pretend that # 1 and # 2 are only there to make the rest look better by comparison.

shabooty (#637)

Location: D.C./V.A/M.D.
Quote: "I will shake your foundation. I will shake the f**cking rafters. Nobody'll be the same -Danny Bonaduce ....& go visit my blog @:"
Posted: 4819 days ago

I can't decide between #2 or #3.

but I think #3 is more hip-stery...

(also I am from DC, your number one market). ;)


Rees Maxwell (#1954)

Posted: 4819 days ago

#2 for the win.

#1: 8-bit isn't really that novel any longer.
#2: Wish it looked more human with machine stuff, vs robot with human stuff, but I still think it's the best
#3: I SPY! (Say no more.)
#4: Far too abstract
#5: No. Please, no.
#6: Looks too techy and too much about the computer, vs the man. (I know, he's becoming more computer every day, but still, it's too much machine for the cover without the human-like quality of #2.)

BUT please don't let the cover selection slow down the publication of it!! Get on it, pronto!

Machine Man subscriber Joe (#5197)

Posted: 4819 days ago

#5 is my favorite followed by #6. #5 Tells something about the story, and you can kind of get a sense for what you are in for. I think #6 just looks cool.

Joanna (#5296)

Location: Seattle, WA
Quote: ""The wise man despises no one. Instead, he watches him closely and tries to discover the roots of what he sees." (Gogol, Dead Souls)"
Posted: 4819 days ago

1, 2, & 4 are definitely the strongest. I think 1 & 2 will get you a wider reading base, though. I mean I think a much smaller percentage will even recognize that it's a capacitor in 4. And definitely not 3, which makes it look like a handy-man self help book. :) Good luck, and thanks Vintage!! They're INSANELY COOL, indeed!

Machine Man subscriber Devin (#100)

Location: Los Angeles, CA
Quote: ""Toast sweat! It's the scourge of our time!""
Posted: 4819 days ago

I'm split between #5 and #1. I like the aesthetics of number 1, clean lines, pixel art (which I'm always a sucker for) and a little hint at the story. #5 I like just because the image amuses me. #1 would probably grab my eyeballs in a bookstore the most, but #5 also feels appropriate to the story and the story's sense of humour.

Machine Man subscriber Mary (#4428)

Location: Charlotte, NC
Posted: 4819 days ago

#5. No question. Mustache, much? Also, I really like the words between the realistic man and the robot legs. Everything about that pic is epic.

Machine Man subscriber Dorina (#2841)

Location: Athens
Posted: 4819 days ago

6, 4 and 5. In fact 6 kicks a@@!!! Congrats to Matt Roeser for the good work!

Laurie (#127)

Location: Wauconda, IL
Posted: 4819 days ago

#5 and #2 are my favorites.

Phill Sacre (#1822)

Location: London, UK
Quote: "Computers are like air conditioners. Both stop working, if you open windows."
Posted: 4819 days ago

I think #2 is my favourite. I don't know why, I just like the simplicity of it! Very striking :)'

Michael (#1790)

Location: New Jersey, USA
Quote: "Roses are red; Violets are blue; in Soviet Russia, poem writes YOU!"
Posted: 4819 days ago

4 for sure!

Machine Man subscriber Eoin O'Faolain (#5196)

Posted: 4819 days ago

#5 is by far the best for me. It tells you more about the story than the others, and it also quite a provocative cover.

Machine Man subscriber Lisa (#2587)

Location: Enfield, Connecticut USA
Quote: "outside of dog a book is man's best friend...inside of a dog it's too dark to read--Groucho Marx"
Posted: 4819 days ago

Love #3 (#6 is second choice) I can see by all the posts you'll have to have multiple covers to please us all.

Deb Cupples (#489)

Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Quote: "Deb finds cool stuff"
Posted: 4819 days ago

Number 4. The other ones make me think that I know what is going on in the book:

1. This is about a computer nerd who sat too close to the server.
2. Robots take over the world.
3. You know Mark Leyner.
5. You went to the circus and then watched "The Iron Giant."
6. Sci Fi that I might not understand...probably over my head.

There you have it. Course, I'd buy the book if it had scratch and sniff poop on it. ;)

Machine Man subscriber b3n3llis (#3159)

Location: UK
Posted: 4819 days ago

5 is the best.

The only thing is I immediately thought it was a steampunk novel with the magnificent handlebar moustache but having read your 'live' version of Machine Man, I know it's not. As much as it goes against every grain of my being; No.5 without the stupendously handsome handlebar moustache.

1. Been done.
2. Meh.
3. Too busy.
4 & 6. Not 'machiney' enough, too 'computery'.

Zach Dailey (#3754)

Location: La Vernia, TX
Quote: ""False face must hide what the false heart don't know." -Macbeth, Shakespeare"
Posted: 4819 days ago

#2 or #5. The others are bleh. :)

Kyle (#5403)

Location: Columbia, MO
Posted: 4819 days ago

#5 is awesome and my favorite

#2 is a close 2nd.

The others are distant runner-ups.

Doug (#3752)

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Posted: 4819 days ago

#1, then #4

Mauricio (#5404)

Location: Austin, TX
Posted: 4819 days ago

Oh so many covers! And they're all mostly good--but I think #2 and #5 are my absolute favorites--#3 is really weird...looks like an I Spy book....

Eric Hoffman (#4259)

Location: Arizona
Quote: ""America was founded by men who understood that the threat of domestic tyranny is as great as any threat from abroad. If we want to be worthy of their legacy, we must resist the rush toward ever-increasing state control of our society." Ron Paul"
Posted: 4819 days ago

#4 or #6.

The others would keep me from picking the book up off the shelf.

Kit Walker (#550)

Quote: ""
Posted: 4819 days ago

Number six, hands down. It's simple, lending a bit of a classy air to it all. The others are great, but they lack that "classy" aspect.

jessica (#3063)

Location: austin, tx
Quote: "You can't start a fire worrying about your little world falling apart."
Posted: 4819 days ago

I pick #5 bc everyone loves a good handlebar 'stache!!! Change the legs for sure. Great the blue. Make your name bigger or stand out a little more than in the corner. No one puts baby in the corner! lol!
#1 like it, don't love it. very 80's...Dire Straits
#2 my second choice. very eye catching.
#3 little too busy...but 3rd choice
#4 looks like there's a bullet on the cover and it's for a conspiracy who is the lone gunman type of stuff.
#6 nope.

can't wait to buy it!!! yay!

Billy McMahon (#4690)

Location: Variable
Quote: "revolution"
Posted: 4819 days ago

My vote would be with #4, followed by #2. Least favorite is #5.

#1: I see the ascetic appeal of the design, but the fairly low-quality graphic seems unprofessional.

#2: Ascetically pleasing, pertinent, and interesting detail. A fairly safe pick, it's good and there's nothing wrong with it.

#3: There's just too much there. Some white space is a good thing, and this just looks like a crammed collection of pictures.

#4: The most interesting, I think. 1, 2, 3, & 5 just reiterate your title. You've already said "Machine Man." This, however, shows something more. It's not just the battery, but also that wisp attached; not just machine, but something more. Makes me think more, and it makes the book more desirable.

#5: This is the least attractive image. It looks like someone glued a magazine cutout to some cartoon legs. It has an audience, but not the general public. People saying "steampunk" or any such thing will already be inclined to buy a novel entitled "Machine Man" (and several already have). People who have no idea what that means are probably the ones to be turned off by that image.

#6: Some of the attractive value of #4, but not nearly as much for some reason. The chip doesn't seem as dramatic, nor does writing "Better Future" on it. Not bad, but not particularly good, either.

I'll be buying it once it's in print anyway, but I think #4 would serve it best.

Justin Critzer (#2891)

Location: Fredericksburg, VA
Quote: "My mother taught me good manners, but I had the strength of character to overcome them."
Posted: 4819 days ago

I'd have to go with either 1 or 4. 1 evokes that certain sense of nostalgia from the nerds of the world. 4 is clean and smooth without an image you'll wish you didn't have in the back of your head while reading the book.

2 and 6 are just kinda... I don't know... boring?

3 and 5, well...

3 looks like Coca-Cola bought the rights to the logo from Scooby's Mystery Machine and then disassembled the van.

5... I could go for this one if you change the guy on the cover.. It kinda looks like a young Joseph Stalin is on the cover of an O'Reilly computer reference book :)

Adam Hamilton (#3807)

Location: Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada
Quote: "Tootsie pop, Or Adult Film Training stick? The World may only Suspect."
Posted: 4819 days ago

4 or 6, I liked 6 more initially, but 4 more now.
I also liked 1, but I like low res comics, and this isn't one. so 4/6/1 in that order, didn't like 5 at-all

Lizzard (#5405)

Location: US
Posted: 4819 days ago

#5 is my first choice.

Machine Man subscriber Tricia Fisher (#4413)

Posted: 4819 days ago

5, for sure

Machine Man subscriber tim (#3234)

Location: chattanooga, TN, USA
Quote: """
Posted: 4819 days ago

i don't know what steampunk means but i like 5. now I have to google steampunk.

Anna Carter (#2502)

Location: Paris, ON, CANADA
Quote: "Supply teachers do it on demand."
Posted: 4819 days ago

#5 is my favourite, followed by 3 and 2.

Machine Man subscriber tim (#3234)

Location: chattanooga, TN, USA
Quote: """
Posted: 4819 days ago

i like steampunk.

RayRay (#3747)

Location: Texas
Quote: "Sometimes late at night Wearing a cat on my head I get transmissions."
Posted: 4819 days ago

5 or 4. A burnt insulator is a little obscure, but makes perfect sense.

Machine Man subscriber Hatim (#4019)

Location: Colchester
Quote: ""Ingredients: Dehydrated potatoes, vegetable oil, rice flour, wheat, starch, maltodextrin, emulsifier and salt. Packed in a protective atmosphere." -MLK, Jr"
Posted: 4819 days ago

Here's what I think:

#1: I'm a sucker for pixel art and command lines on me book covers, so this is a winner in my book. Plus, I like how it's understated and simple.

#2: While the design is very nice, it's makes it look like a book about a robot, instead of a human becoming a cyborg.

#3: Way too busy. Definitely not this one.

#4: I like it. Very simple and beautiful, but also reminds me of thrillers and horror books.

#5: Though I'm a big fan of anachronistic old-timey art and steampunk, I don't think it's suited for this book. Plus, the mechanical legs makes him look like a chicken; if you're going with this one, I'd suggest changing the legs. Not a fan of the running away from cops silhouette, either.

#6: It's not as nice as #4. The chip doesn't do it for me.

So yeah, here's the tl,dr version: Go with #1. #4 is a slightly distant second. Looking forward to reading the story on actual dried dead tree pulp!

Qaaolchoura (#226)

Location: Korea
Quote: "Treason never prospers, and what is the reason? If it does prosper then none dare to call it 'treason'"
Posted: 4819 days ago

On a completely different note, is that your daughter in the Facebook link, Max? She wasn't even born when I stopped playing NationStates. And yet I'm still getting your emails. That's quite an effective marketing strategy.

Also, you're making me feel old. At 22.

Lynne D Perry (#5100)

Location: Penfield, New York
Quote: "Resistance to Linux is futile. You *will* be assimilated."
Posted: 4819 days ago

#4 caught my interest because I had to take a 2nd look to figure out what it was, but #5 HELD my interest because it made me more curious about what was behind the cover. #5 made me want to read the back cover. #4 didn't.

Machine Man subscriber Zack (#4307)

Location: NYC
Posted: 4819 days ago

I'm kind of close to this, but I enthusiastically vote for number 5. It captures everything about this kick-ass novel.

Loren (#5406)

Location: Chicago
Posted: 4819 days ago

#2 is my favorite

Machine Man subscriber Travis (#5125)

Quote: "Dude"
Posted: 4819 days ago

I like the #5 cover the most!

Jei Post Rok (#3337)

Location: U.K.
Quote: "Idiot A: "It wasn't my fault, i was only following orders." Idiot B: "I only gave orders, i didn't do anything!""
Posted: 4819 days ago

If i HAD to choose one, it'd be number... um... wait... no... hrmmm... 5? No, 4. I don't know!

How about number 4, with the small stick men from number 5 up the spine?

Machine Man subscriber Russell (#3897)

Location: USA
Quote: "O Lord, Protect us from those to whom you speak directly"
Posted: 4819 days ago


Machine Man subscriber jen (#5407)

Location: dallas
Posted: 4819 days ago

i'd say 1 or 4. 2 or 6 would be ok, but 3 is hideous and 5 is annoying.

Alexei Diaz-Paz (#1817)

Posted: 4819 days ago


Sarah (#5409)

Location: St. Louis
Posted: 4819 days ago

2 is my favorite! It would definitely get me to pick up this book in the store. 5 is second. They are simple yet intriguing. I think 3 is too busy. And 4 & 6 just don't grab my attention as much.

kest (#5408)

Posted: 4819 days ago

Ok, so I've only read the preview part of it, and it was awhile ago, but what I mostly remember was a guy cutting his body parts off for the sake of cyborging himself, which is pretty a) visceral and b) modern. So...

Cover #1 is out, because it makes think late 80s and computer screens, so, neither visceral nor modern.

#2 is more robot and less man, and still feels a little retro.

#3 is *very* retro, although I like the leg and the bits of stuff.

#4 is very modern, and I like that, but I don't know at first glance what that thing on the cover actually is, although it's a *real* thing, whatever it is, and I like that.

#5 feels like an O'Reilly book, which could be good, and it has an actual guy on it, but still has quite a bit of that retro feel. Maybe you like retro. Maybe your designer likes retro. I don't know.

#6, I like the smoking computer chip, although the font still says vaguely 80s to me.

tl;dr = I think #4 is my favorite, although maybe with the computer chip from #6?

Chris (#2570)

Location: Canada
Posted: 4819 days ago

In order my top 3 are; #6, #1, #5

I like #6 because it's clean, it has personality with the text on the chip, and piques my curiosity to pick up the book and read the back, etc.

I like #1 because the cover and all it's little nods are perfect for your style of writing. It's full of style and my personal favorite, but I have to agree with another commentor; I'm not sure it matches the story.

I like the style of #5 and it speaks to the story the most of the ones I like.

#2 is good up close, but if I didn't know the story and I was just browsing, I wouldn't be ineterested based on the cover.

#3 is really busy and while all of those images speak to machine and man, it really tells me nothing about the story. If I saw it in a bookstore, I wouldn't be interested enough to pick it up.

#4 is too generic. It doesn't have the personality that #6 has and I don't think that the image of a capacitor resonates with the average person like the image of a computer chip does.

Machine Man subscriber Vince (#4605)

Posted: 4819 days ago

1 is perfect, followed by 5.

1 is simple, attractive, describes the book well to newcomers, and the style is great for geeks like me who will love the book.
5 is a very interesting design, the contrast is entertaining, and the little chase scene is really cool after you've read the book. However, it would be confusing to new readers, who are your primary audience for a cover.

Richard (#2051)

Location: Boulder, CO
Quote: "...I may not like you, but because some town in Switzerland says so, you have rights!"
Posted: 4819 days ago

4 and 5 are my favorites.

Machine Man subscriber coolpillows (#3749)

Location: new york general sort of vicinity
Quote: ""It's not working" -- Joseph Clark"
Posted: 4819 days ago

Leaning towards 1 & 5.

1. needs some extra detail, esp. around the special leg. It looks like something is wrong...maybe make it a die cut? (like they have $$ for that)

5. needs some more definition in the leg as well...looks like he's got some crazy sneakers on.

2, 3, 4, 6 --- I feel like I should chime in on those too b/c everyone else is.

2. Makes it look like the robot took his leg off, which the robot sorta did, b/c HE is a robot but that's getting too reflexive and abstract
3. Too busy and could be mistaken for a book about mechanics or something
4. I really don't know what that is...I can guess yeah yeah, but on first blush, looks like a Tylenol bottle fully wrapped in dark green plastic...with smoke coming off
6. Just not distinct enough; is that thing walking, burning up on the it supposed to be an instinct.

This is so exciting. So not only are we helping you write the book, you're asking for our opinion on the book thing you'll want us to buy the damn thing!

and we will...... ;-)

Machine Man subscriber Roger (#1653)

Posted: 4819 days ago

1 and 6 would be my most preferred.

Followed then by 2 and 4

3 and 5 are horrible though.

Machine Man subscriber Sara Leigh (#4075)

Location: Northern Virginia
Posted: 4819 days ago

Number 6, then 4.

Machine Man subscriber gstein42 (#585)

Quote: "That's not change! That's more of the same!"
Posted: 4819 days ago

on first glance, i like the 8-bit art of #1, but i don't think it really fits the story.
#2 is too much "robot", not enough "machine man".
i also enjoy #3, but it's way too cluttered.
i like 4, 5, and 6, but all for different reasons -
i think #5 is my favorite, it's got the right balance of "machine" and "man", plus i really like the gunfight that's happening on top of the title.

Lottie (#3093)

Location: Sheffield, UK
Posted: 4819 days ago

1 or 3. The others are either boring and/or suck.
btw, I haven't read any machine man, and I'd definitely pick up number 1 or 3 in a book shop.
4 and 6 are a bit rubbish. and number 5 is a little scary (unless you're going for that, I dunno!) Number 2 reminds me of that film robots.
good luck! :)

Andrea (#2583)

Location: New York City
Quote: "I Hate My Job"
Posted: 4819 days ago

the ones I really don't like are #1 and #3, they're too busy or bitmappy

I do dig #2 - It caught my eye immediately

I really like #5 - the 20s handlebar mustache and the machine legs

#6 and #4 are just okay for me

I think I like #5 and #2 also because of the color pop of the blue.

can't wait to read it.

Machine Man subscriber Bushra (#36)

Location: Fremont, California
Quote: ""
Posted: 4819 days ago

I like 1 and 6.

Andrea (#2583)

Location: New York City
Quote: "I Hate My Job"
Posted: 4819 days ago

again, reviewing these and I have to say I'd pick #5 over #2, #5 is more unique but it's only a slight edge over #2 for me.

so #5 is my top choice! facial hair rules

Machine Man subscriber ToddRM (#4708)

Location: Kokomo,IN
Posted: 4819 days ago

I like 6 followed by 4. They both have a simple elegance reminiscent of Jennifer Govt.

Agnes (#1457)

Location: Canada
Posted: 4819 days ago

I'm voting for #4

Machine Man subscriber Endingpop (#1478)

Location: Michigan, USA
Posted: 4819 days ago

#1 is my favorite, with #4 and #6 tied for second. I like #1's imagery a lot, but the "run endorsement" and "send check" off the command line items really make it.

Machine Man subscriber fellow_autobot (#4303)

Location: brisneyland, straya
Quote: "Max Power, that's the man who's name you'd love to touch, but you musn't touch! That name sounds good in your ear, but when you say it, you musn't fear. Cause that name could be said by anyone! - Homer J Simpson."
Posted: 4819 days ago

None are really great for me. Number 5 maybe.

Get some input from

Machine Man subscriber Paul Haggerty (#3189)

Location: Bloomington
Quote: "Does the sky look orange to you as well?"
Posted: 4819 days ago

6 is my second choice

Kalle (#1278)

Quote: "Sex is herital. If your parents never had it, chanses are you'll never have it either."
Posted: 4819 days ago

#5, for the brief period before the inevitable "now as a major motion picture"-cover! Looks like a demented self-help book, can't help loving that.

Nate (#1064)

Location: Bowling Green, KY
Quote: "Once more into the breach, dear friends...."
Posted: 4819 days ago

Hey Max.

#4 is awesome. It covers so much, and yet is subtle. I love the look of it...especially the tiny cloud of smoke escaping the transistor. #4, definitely.

Machine Man subscriber Alan W (#1427)

Location: Spokane, Washington
Quote: "Corgis are like potato chips"
Posted: 4819 days ago

Woo! Reddit!

Oh, right, where were we ... aah yes.

My votes in order:

1) Favorite, why? Clean art, the character provides an emotional attachment, a way to empathize with the main character.
2) Looks cool, but a bit impersonal
5) Moustache! Olde Tyme and modern art style mashup

Jack Brownfield (#5166)

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Quote: "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world."
Posted: 4819 days ago

Number 6, all the way.

amber (#5410)

Location: omnipresence, baby, yeah
Posted: 4819 days ago

Number 4 and number 6 are clean, intriguing, and don't give anything away about the plot: I am more likely to pick them up and read the book description on a blind walk through the store.

Number 5 has the most personality, I think. I love the mustached-man chosen for the torso. I don't know if I would pick it up as readily, though, because the cover does make the plot more apparent. Less "hmmm, what's this?" motivation. Still, fun. I like it a lot.

4&6 have that apocalyptic, technology has done us wrong vibe while giving away less.

I don't like 1 & 2. They don't draw me in.
#3 is interesting, but I wouldn't pick it up and it's not as aesthetically pleasing.

Machine Man subscriber Timothy Williams (#4181)

Location: limbo
Quote: ""It is so strange the way things turn.""
Posted: 4819 days ago


First off, I must tell you, you are my favorite 'new ' writer (new as opposed to someone like B. Stoker, for example). Love your books. Love them all. Now, as for the Machine Man covers:

#5 and #3 are the best, no question, in that order.

#6 is too close to the cover of JENNIFER GOVERNMENT -- especially if both books were sitting side-by-side on a Barnes&Noble shelf.

metalbiteme (#1495)

Location: WALES UK
Quote: "Welcome to nowhere fast. Nothing here ever lasts."
Posted: 4819 days ago

the theme along the covers of j.government and company are bold and big with a white background. Symbolic almost. On that basis i would go for....

But i just love the eccentricity of number 3

Colin Van Duyne (#2873)

Location: Calgary, Alberta Canada
Quote: "I said it before and I'll say it again: knee caps exist only to be hit with claw hammers and grace exists only to be fallen from."
Posted: 4819 days ago

I think 6 jumps out at me the most, but I like 4 and 5 also.

Machine Man subscriber Mr. Chuckles (#4150)

Posted: 4819 days ago

I like 1 and 3 the best, but honestly? You could sell this book as a stack of printer paper, stapled together and stuffed into a paper grocery bag, and I would buy it and love it. I'm just excited that we're far enough into the preparation for this book's release that we're picking a cover!

Machine Man subscriber Rus (#2433)

Location: UK
Posted: 4819 days ago

2 or 5 for me. #1 Reminds me of the intro to the IT Crowd.

Machine Man subscriber John Haughton (#4866)

Location: Sunderland
Quote: "Bugger it."
Posted: 4819 days ago

#1 Iconic in a way similar to Jennifer Government. Bulk out the leg a small amount, Charlies leg dents the floor, its that cool.

#2 Is god damn sickening, its a Beano bot that says 'beep', this is a Max Barry book.

#3 Terrible.

#4 0k but dull.

#5 I dislike it. But it looks popular so if it gets chosen at least represent the two legs as the awesome things they are in the book.

#6 My Second choice as is. I like the smoke effect, corporate logo and codes. Add a drop blood, tainted with a small amount of inky fluid. Man and machine both damaged pre-alpha risks.

Jonathan (#3166)

Posted: 4819 days ago

Favorite is #4, followed by #1.

Malka (#2696)

Location: South Florida
Quote: "Rar"
Posted: 4819 days ago

#1 is my favorite.
#5 is my second choice, but I don't like the top half guy, would put a different person.
#6 is my third choice. I like the comments from John two posts up.
#2 is ok, but just kinda meh.
#4 I don't even know what it is, it would just confuse me as to what the story is about.
#3 I dislike very much. Its just too much stuff and I don't like it.

Simon (#3192)

Location: Melbourne
Quote: "I'd rather be arrogant than wrong"
Posted: 4819 days ago

They are all brilliant, but I think I like #5

Machine Man subscriber Lance Mertz (#3541)

Location: Seattle
Quote: "It wasn't me, I wasn't there and did nothing."
Posted: 4819 days ago

I like number 5 the most.

Wags (#38)

Location: the Suburbs, Chicago, IL
Quote: "I'm moving up in the world! I used to be member #43..."
Posted: 4819 days ago

I know the concept is trite and overused, but I love #2. He's cute! I guess the dashing half-man in #5 could get me to buy the book, too, but he looks like he has weird robotic chicken legs. Kinda awkward. Number 3 is just too overwhelming!

Farley (#4503)

Location: Vancouver
Quote: "The world is your oyster, but you are allergic to shellfish."
Posted: 4819 days ago

#5 is my #1 choice. #2 is my #2 choice. #1 is my #3 choice and #6 is my #4 choice. That's clear, right?

Miranda (#1068)

Location: Auckland NZ
Quote: "Bugger this for a joke"
Posted: 4819 days ago

6. Six is the coolest. I don't hate the others, but I truly like 6.

Stirling (#4872)

Location: That rather nice café on the corner of Smith and Gertrud
Quote: "Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines. "
Posted: 4819 days ago

#4. My wife agrees.

Simple and eye catching.

Oh, and congratulations.

mike (#1842)

Location: Houston
Quote: "It is okay to cry over spilled milk, if you really hate cleaning.."
Posted: 4819 days ago

I would say 3, 5 and then 1.

4 and 6 have too much of a non-fiction feel.

Casey (#3542)

Location: Albuquerque, NM
Quote: ""Life is a game. So fight for survival and see if you're worth it." ~Battle Royal"
Posted: 4819 days ago

Not gonna lie, #5. :D

Machine Man subscriber Colin (#5185)

Location: California
Posted: 4819 days ago

I'm going with #6. with #4 as a runner up. They have a very clean precise look to them, which I find your writing to be as well (as you mentioned the cover needs to color the rest of the book to come). On another note, I did like the Jennifer Government cover and these certainly follow that cover stylistically. The only change I would make, is to have #6 with a clean white background rather than an off-white.

Something about #2 and #3 I do like. It's a bit hipster, but they are too whimsical. #3 reminds me of the "Eye Spy" books for kids.

Machine Man subscriber Christopher (#3809)

Location: Unincorporated Harris County, State of Texas, United States of
Quote: "For Poland!"
Posted: 4819 days ago

I like number 1.

Matt (#5127)

Location: SF Bay Area
Quote: "I love Max Barry crap."
Posted: 4819 days ago

I think #5 is the best from a marketing/tellingsomeoneataglancewhatthebookisabout stand point. I like #1 the best though. :)

I don't know what the hell that cylinder thing in #4 is.

Machine Man subscriber Also Deacon (#5301)

Location: decline
Posted: 4819 days ago

I hate to say it, but I fear that none of them truly do the book justice...

But if I didn't KNOW how brilliant the book was and was just passing by a display in a bookstore (we still have those, right?) I would reach for number 1.

I'd be more inclined to buy number 1 because of the self effacing "code" jokes (a la ">:end endorsement >:send check") and the somewhat eye-catching leg modification.

I don't disagree that the theme is done to death, but it could be made quite a bit more unique with a different title font and something more going on in the background, like a semi-opaque photograph depicting corporate dronery or some such.

Machine Man subscriber Robin Heckathorn (#3341)

Location: Lost in California
Quote: "Since I stopped drinking, I've been thinking, and its reminded me why I started drinking in the first place."
Posted: 4819 days ago


Machine Man subscriber Jan Van Eemeren (#286)

Location: Belgium
Quote: "nonsense upon stilts"
Posted: 4819 days ago

#6 I prefer
#5 could still beat #6 if the legs get a work out: shining, dangerous looking ...

Machine Man subscriber Stygian Emperor (#2947)

Location: the Stygian Empire
Quote: "Flesh is a design flaw."
Posted: 4819 days ago

I hated the cover Syrup had originally, where you could see 6 clearly on the original cover and she looked nothing like described in the book. I think my favorite was the audiobook cover.

As far as these go, I don't love any of them, but 5 is the only one I really dislike. I don't like his face, how muscled he is, or that those legs are so scrawny.

I would love to see a cover with the little running machine man from the middle of the "A" in 2 and next to the guy in 5 featured more prominently.

1, 2, or 6 would be okay.

Machine Man subscriber branden (#2100)

Location: northern california
Quote: "...and this is how you betray me!?"
Posted: 4819 days ago

My vote is cover #5. It brings together the most dramatic visuals of the story in a humorous and attractive manner.

Although, you're not going to go wrong with any of the above covers.

Machine Man subscriber G Lainagier (#470)

Location: Melbourne
Quote: "Life called. It says it wants its lemons back."
Posted: 4819 days ago

5 me.

In numerical order: Couplandesque cubicle farce, Rankinesque steampunk, Kathy Lette tries something new, Tom Clancy for the kids of today, what you wrote, what you might write but not really this.

Machine Man subscriber Jimmm Engstrom (#4577)

Location: Burnsville, MN
Quote: "I recommend the lobster ravioli. "
Posted: 4819 days ago

Number six

Machine Man subscriber Drij (#4198)

Location: North Wales
Posted: 4819 days ago

I'm torn between 2 and 5. 2 might be a little too cliche, but I love the use of the eponymous character in the 'A' and the pile of parts.

Scott Coffman (#5413)

Location: United States
Quote: "Don't estomp your little last season Prada shoes at me, honey."
Posted: 4819 days ago

Three or Four would be my choices. I am a longtime bookseller, and I think those would stand out on displays.

Chris (#3581)

Location: Melb
Posted: 4819 days ago

am i allowed to not like any of them? if i have to have this book on my shelf, i want it to look right. somebody suggested some of them look like spy novels = correct, they do. number 2 is better than the others because it's generic and fun. fun makes people happy, so go with that. just the colour is a bit dorky.

on that note, i can't believe your spell-check has underlined "colour". have you gone to the other side, Max?

Zach Dyer (#5414)

Posted: 4819 days ago

I'm for 1 and 2

Swkoll (#5394)

Location: USA
Quote: ":)"
Posted: 4819 days ago

I like #2 the best but #1 is a close second.

Alex Weston (#1794)

Location: James Madison U. Virginia, USA
Quote: "Max(x) is awesome"
Posted: 4819 days ago

I like 5 the best

Stirling (#4872)

Location: That rather nice café on the corner of Smith and Gertrud
Quote: "Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines. "
Posted: 4819 days ago

#4. My wife agrees.

Simple and eye catching.

Oh, and congratulations.

Machine Man subscriber Lilla (#4355)

Location: Sydney
Posted: 4819 days ago

Cover 5 is my top pick.

1, 2 and 3 seem a bit derivative ... they're nice designs 'n' all, but remind me of other books rather than screaming COOL NEW NOVEL! YOU MUST READ ME!

Jane (#321)

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "Which is worse: Ignorance or apathy? Who knows? Who cares?"
Posted: 4819 days ago

My favourite is #3. I also really like #4 - it seems reminiscent of the Jennifer Government cover somehow.

I don't mind #1 or #2. However, #1 reminds me of the cover of Microserfs by Doug Copeland.

#5 and #6 don't really appeal to me as much.

Machine Man subscriber Mark Richardson (#1117)

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "<bounce!>"
Posted: 4819 days ago

I choose #5 and #6. From best to worst:

#5: I think this suits the over-the-top tone of the book.
#6: I see "f'ed up cybernetics."
#1: Cute, but I think the pixel art is out of place. It would catch my attention, however.
#4: Similar to #6, but less inspiring.
#2: I see a "robot learning to be human" story.
#3: I see a mechanic.

Machine Man subscriber Machine (#957)

Posted: 4819 days ago

The only ones that aren't great are #2 and #3.

I instantly liked #1, but based on the comments it seems this concept has been done a lot.

So #4. Now put it on your book.

Robert Belton (#3176)

Location: The best city in australia.
Posted: 4819 days ago

2 or 6

Machine Man subscriber Ben (#3924)

Location: Alberta, Canada
Quote: "I don't wanna ride the elevator."
Posted: 4819 days ago

My gut feeling was #4. I liked the smoke.

Scrolling down the page #1 and #2 were the first two I saw. I liked #1, while #2 felt drab, lack of colors and didn't draw me in.

Next I saw #3 and #4. I really did not like #3 as it was too busy. Too much going on, I like my covers to have one main theme. The leg felt out of place and if I had not read the book it would feel really out of place. I did like #4 right away as well. Again, I liked the smoke.

Last I came too #5 and #6. I felt #6 was very similar to #4, just with a different part burning. I liked the text better however, A Vintage Original. At this point I didnt realize vintage was the publisher. On the other hand, I was not immediately sure what I thought about #5 so I zoomed it in to get a better look. I think it portrays the story the best, despite my appreciation of #4.

#5 does not become distracting as #3 does, despite all that is going on. It has impact and keeps more than two colors, one of the main reasons I didn't like #2. Some humor is conveyed, a large reason I liked #1. But there is no smoke. Smoke is pretty.

A co-worker I asked favored #6. My opinion, however, is #4 or #5.

Machine Man subscriber Ben (#3924)

Location: Alberta, Canada
Quote: "I don't wanna ride the elevator."
Posted: 4819 days ago

Also, I agree with the get rid of the quote comments. It kinda works for #1 due to the way its done but it can only be done that way in #1. I find quotes are either distracting or counter productive in every case.

Machine Man subscriber ellwood (#4245)

Location: New York
Quote: "Everbody has a plan until they get punched in the face."
Posted: 4819 days ago

I like 4 because it is clean and compelling. But I like the chip from number 6 as it is a faster read. I feel like a heretic even voting as I am an award-winning designer and you didn't ask me to design your cover but then again I never told you I was an award-winning designer. Next time you should ask or I should offer. In any case, congrats, I'm glad a lot more people will get a chance to read the book. I really enjoyed it.

Machine Man subscriber Mapuche (#1184)

Location: Darwin, Australia
Quote: "Inconceivable!"
Posted: 4819 days ago

6, 5, 4 in that order.

3 is too busy, 2 looks bland and 1 looks like a corporate sales manual - I didn't even realise the cartoon guy was part machine until a closer look.

In order to make sense of this you might need a poll.

Machine Man subscriber Trevor (#4081)

Posted: 4819 days ago

6 is my favorite. 3 and 5 don't do it for me. The others are decent.

Gregory (#1530)

Location: Forest Hill
Quote: "I think therefore I am, I think"
Posted: 4819 days ago

Six is really cool, esp. with the smoke coming out but four is the clear winner for me. Crisp, clean and to the point.

Good luck Max.

Machine Man subscriber Toby O (#2900)

Location: Sydney
Quote: "vote with your wallet"
Posted: 4819 days ago

Fully aware that having a nut next to my name probably automatically requires that you apply sampling bias and downgrade this opinion - but - I'm really not on board with any of the covers. I'm still stuck in those powerpoint slides with the massively vivid photos taking up the whole slide and the text. I also really liked the design for Wil Wheaton's book Memories of the Future, but probably because a lot of that motif had been sorted out by others and it was more of a riff.

Is there a way to do Star Wars meets How I Met Your Mother?

And - too much white for me.

And - if I had to vote - NOT 1,2or3

Perrorist (#3640)

Location: Central Coast, NSW
Quote: "No flow, no go."
Posted: 4819 days ago

No. 1 with the typeface of No. 4.

Machine Man subscriber Robert Dillette (#2827)

Location: Brisbane, QLD
Quote: "Cante Jondo and The Blues; Popular suffering raised to a high art."
Posted: 4819 days ago

Comments, in order of preference.

#6: This would be the one I would be most likely to buy if I didn't know what the book was about. The extra smoke (as opposed to #4) helps fill out a lot of the white space which I'm not a huge fan of.

#1: I like it, especially the ":send check" (should that be cheque, or maybe money, for your non-USA audience?) HOWEVER, I got an instant Douglas Coupland vibe, so maybe not.

#2: Reminds me of Portal. Guy in the A running from the machine, but the bag of legs didn't quite work for me. Still, a good one.

#4: I like it for similar reasons to #6 except there's not enough happening on the case to make it interesting. It's just a smoking ... capacitor? At least in #6 the "Better Future" company is referenced.

#5: Choose a different 'guy' for the central image. He looks like he should be excercising with a medicine ball in the 1930s - I know, it's probably to contrast the robot legs, but Meh. I do like the Max Barry gear though.

#3: Way too busy, and the Machine Man font just seems out of place. Thematically though, I think it's closest to what I'd prefer. Just too distracting on the eye.

stanley becker (#5283)

Location: black hole
Posted: 4819 days ago

Max, we talk again - first I was an award winning international designer in those far away 80's [if that is of any interest] I, and my partner designed the covers to all our books - [just a little background here of professional interest] I think all the covers are dreadful but # 5 would be acceptable if it had a more interesting face [the design is good] I find the mustachioed face to be effete not hetero enough [I presumed Charley to be hetero and not a post-modern homosexual [excuse me if I'm wrong as I haven't read the whole book] I do think the idea and typography, layout, flash dividing bar all to be tight and excellent [I like the legs] - so if you can give him a less Victorian referenced face [get rid of the handle-bar mustache and let him look more realistic and less period that would do it Hope I've been of assistance "I owe you" Good luck with the book - all the best Love Stan

Machine Man subscriber Thomas F Shamma (#3729)

Location: New Hampshire
Posted: 4819 days ago

I'd go with either #1 or #2. None of them suck, but the first two seem, in my opinion, to best reflect the content of the story in tone. I'd be surprised to find the type of story Machine Man is under any of the third through sixth covers.

ryandake (#2199)

Location: scenic monterey, ca
Quote: ""The rest is not our business.""
Posted: 4819 days ago

dress it in fishwrap, i don't care--i'm just so glad to see it come out in print! when do we get our paws on it?

Machine Man subscriber Barbara (#3854)

Location: Canberra
Quote: "All models are wrong. Some models are useful."
Posted: 4819 days ago

I love 4 and 5. 2 is good, too, but suggests it's a book about a robot, which will give the wrong impression. 1 is too reminiscent of Microserfs. 3 is too cluttered. 6 is okay.

Jared (#5379)

Quote: ""Why do tomorrow what you could put off till the day after tomorrow?""
Posted: 4819 days ago

Why, yes, I would like to leave a comment, thanks for aksing (and for knowing my name, to)...

I like #5 the best; it is the best one in my opinion. I would like it even better without the quote/endorsement. I don't like it, and kinda think it detracts from the cover, personally.

So, yes, #5.

Machine Man subscriber Adam Willard (#4231)

Location: Madagascar
Quote: "What unseen pen etched eternal things in the hearts of humankind... but never let them in our minds?"
Posted: 4819 days ago

As far as I'm concerned, #3 is by far the most representative of the book. It's like: "all those choices!" (and not many of them are human). On the other hand, I'm not sure #3 would get me to buy the book (I might not realize it's a novel and a kick-ass story), so I wouldn't blame you if you didn't go with it.

So my second choice would be #5.... it's totally cool, WAY better than the alternatives. The only thing I would change about it would be maybe to make slightly less anime-like robot legs. I know his Contours were pretty good legs and I know the drawing-look fits the rest of the cover, but maybe just change the drawing style to make the legs look less fluid (less anime-like) and more inflexible.

No. 2 does nothing for me, I can't even figure out what the pile of goo with your name in it and random limbs sticking out of it is supposed to be.

No. 1's OK, but too business-like and contained... I didn't take Machine Man to be a contained sort of guy.

Definitely go with #5, catchiest and most representative of the book (as far as selling it goes) but boost the machine-ness of the legs just a bit.

Jeff O (#3059)

Location: Madison, WI USA
Posted: 4819 days ago

For me it's a toss-up between 1 and 3.

Machine Man subscriber Adam Willard (#4231)

Location: Madagascar
Quote: "What unseen pen etched eternal things in the hearts of humankind... but never let them in our minds?"
Posted: 4819 days ago

Actually, yeah, if there's any chance of removing the quote/endorsement that'd be awesome! I think endorsements actually turn me off of a book if I've never heard of the author or the book they've written. Not only that, but it detracts from the overall feel/experience of the book. If you took it off the cover a person could think more about the subject matter and the coolness of it all, undistracted, whereas with the quote, it just reminds you it's an advertisement and may not have in any way reflect the content (or coolness) of the book whatsoever.

Machine Man subscriber Hughbert (#1163)

Location: Australie
Quote: "We can plant a house, We could build a tree, I don't even care, We could have all three!"
Posted: 4819 days ago

I really like 1 and 4

Machine Man subscriber Tim Hodge (#1275)

Location: Canberra
Quote: "My copy of Syrup is made from magic paper."
Posted: 4819 days ago

5 and 3 look good to me.

Machine Man subscriber Joel Dowlath (#2506)

Location: Trinidad
Quote: "To die is gain"
Posted: 4819 days ago

1st choice 3, 2nd choice 5.

Machine Man subscriber DucatiGuy (#4767)

Location: Northern NSW
Posted: 4819 days ago

No. 2. The others are too subtle. And we don't want subtle readers, do we?

Machine Man subscriber Katie Ellert (#207)

Location: Calgary AB Canada
Quote: "Where's Lola? WHERE'S LOLA?!?!"
Posted: 4819 days ago

I like the clean lines and the simple font for number four, but the image on number six.

I love the use of white space (so that rules out number three right away).
Number two seems like it would be written for tweens, which I definitely didn't get that vibe reading the original serial.
Number one is okay, but it doesn't grab me. To me it feels expected.
As for number five, I don't love it, but I don't hate it. It's the only one that's I find to be really 'different'. The whole modern/victorian thing seems to be quite trendy right now, which I mean, if that's what you like then cool, but it's not for me.

Michael (#3884)

Location: Here
Quote: "Wait, what?"
Posted: 4819 days ago

Four made me laugh, but I would say five is the best on one condition - lose the dotted lines. They make it look like one of the old comic strips (Harold?) where the artist always used dotted lines to show that a character was looking at something, usually a pie on a window sill. Bottom line, cheesier than it needs to be.

Otherwise, thanks for allowing the input! I can't wait to have the book in my hands.

Rob2Kx (#1125)

Location: Canada
Quote: "Anything for laughs even if it kills you"
Posted: 4819 days ago

Number 6 is the obvious choice. Anyone who prefers one of the other options is a racist.

Laura Bovey (#4796)

Location: Melbourne
Quote: "drama, drama, drama ..."
Posted: 4819 days ago

As far as layout goes, #4's design is bold and eye-catching ... but I also love #5 for the concept.

I'm boiling over with excitment for you, Max! Does choosing the cover mean you've made it??? Make sure you call past NMIT for a chat once Machine Man comes out -- and be sure to bring a pen so I can get my copy signed!

Leif (#4782)

Location: Melbourne
Quote: "My thoughts are a room full of people all trying to get out the door at the same time..."
Posted: 4819 days ago

After looking at them over and over again while reading all the other comments ...

6 was my initial reaction - but 4 was better when I worked out what it was, it gives that "What's that?" reaction that makes browsers pick it up to see it better. 5 is also good but I don't like that the legs look too anime - could they be more industrial?

Of course, we're all going to buy the book whatever's on the cover. So as you said: one hell of a sampling bias.

Machine Man subscriber Adam Wookee (#4571)

Location: Denver, CO
Quote: "There is no shame in losing to a clever opponent.....And I make it a point to someday kill my clever opponents."
Posted: 4819 days ago

I like 4 and 6 the best. For the love of God NOT #3 please!

Machine Man subscriber Anonymous (#5259)

Location: [email protected]
Quote: "[email protected]"
Posted: 4819 days ago

4 and 6 are both great. They are simply the most do pleasing to look at. 1 and 2 do not catch my attention at all, 3 is decent, and 5 just bothers me.

Machine Man subscriber Paula (#3196)

Location: Sydney
Quote: "(insert something witty, eventually...)"
Posted: 4819 days ago

1 or 3. 6 at a pinch.

Machine Man subscriber Mark (#4045)

Posted: 4819 days ago

1 is my definite favorite, particularly the image itself. Don't care if it's "been done," because it's seriously perfect for this book. I'm not sure about the "run endorsement/send check" part, though.

3 makes me seasick.

Machine Man subscriber Todd (#3429)

Location: New York
Quote: "It's fun to have fun but you have to know how."
Posted: 4819 days ago

Wow, a ton of comments! Max, I'm amazed that the publisher put all of these covers out there -- that's really an incredible gesture. Kudos to them!

Here are my general thoughts on covers -- I just have three. (1) They should look distinctive and memorable. (2) You need to be able to read the title and author from ten feet away. (3) The cover should indicate in some rough way what the book is about, or at least, what kind of book it is.

So: I don't like covers #4 and #6, for reason (3). I think they are too subtle; those images are pretty meaningless unless you have read the book. Likewise, the words "Better Future" have no context.

I don't like cover #1, for reason (1). I guess Douglas Coupland gets away with these clip-art type covers, but I don't know, I don't think it's a good idea.

I lean against #2, also for reason (1). The graphic for the robot is pretty typical looking -- though I think the blue on white is striking, and overall it's much better than cover #1. I don't hate it, I just think it could be better.

I actually like cover #3, for reason (1), but I think it fails under reason (2). I would like to see the same basic idea, but with a typeface that stands out and is easy to read. For the title, they went for the Jonathan Safran Foer font here, and I have no idea why -- it is not the best match.

I think cover #5 does a moderately good job on (1), (2), and (3). But I don't absolutely love it. My biggest reservation is this: I think you run a risk when you put a face on the cover. That almost never happens (although it happened all too much with Syrup!). Readers, I think, like to imagine their characters' faces, and not have an image thrust on them. Then, there's the mustache. With all due respect to your ginger mustache phase, I think putting a mustache on a book cover is certainly an unusual look, which is good; but on the other hand, I don't think mustaches have escaped their retro 70s feel and I am worried there will be a negative vibe among some folks (Google "mustache connotations" and you will some insulting things out there). Why not find an artful way to hide the guy's head, so that it's mechanical legs and human torso? Maybe the quote comes down over it? Maybe he is holding some tools that cover his face? Maybe hide the feet too, so it's not just the head being cut off, but more of a mid-section look.

Well, again, this is just a great experiment and I'm so happy the publisher is crowd-sourcing the cover! Looking forward to the data.

Rod McBride (#688)

Location: Gardner, KS
Quote: ""
Posted: 4819 days ago

#3 is my pic, and for what it's worth (not much I bet), I'm a graphic designer by trade and have done a few book designs.

Robert Droz (#198)

Location: Mulberry, FL, USA
Quote: "The Drive is yours."
Posted: 4819 days ago

You asked for wizzdom, I have opinion.

I like #4 best, despite the least connection to the main character. It pops. I did have to look up that it was a through-hole electrolytic capacitor.
#1 is my #2 choice, but I'm old and nostalgic.
#5 is my #3, Monty Pythonish on top, might be too funny.
#6 , my #4, is much like #4, but something does not sing like #4, even with including better future in the IC. Come to think of it, that might be it, too specific.
#2, my #5, is a touch too robotic at the lead.
Last up, #3, is too busy and oddly girly for so much metal.

Caleb (#4976)

Location: NYC
Quote: "Qui tacet consentire - Ovid (He who is silent gives consent.)"
Posted: 4819 days ago

#3 is my favorite, because it is busy. (I'm an avid fan) but if I wasn't, the other covers wouldn't make me look at the book. As an avid reader, and manager of a book store chain, I know what grabs attention and cover #3 does this.

My second would have to be #6 because of the twist on a classic image, and this connection to a classic would most definitely interest me.

I do not like #1 because it looks too childish. It's cute, bite not right for the story.

#2 is all wrong. It looks like a bad 70's sic-fi show opening title character or a badly designed star wars stood that was later trashed for a more streamlined one, which the main character tries to find throughout the book.

#4 is interesting and there is something in the aesthetic that pleases the eye but I don't think it fits the story.

And lastly, #6 just seems all wrong. (I can't place my finger on it but it much for an articulate opinion right?)

Caleb (#4976)

Location: NYC
Quote: "Qui tacet consentire - Ovid (He who is silent gives consent.)"
Posted: 4819 days ago

Damn, sorry. My second favorite would be #5...damn my fat fingers and the little keyboard on the iPhone.

Machine Man subscriber KCUZ (#4155)

Location: Idaho
Quote: "I'll opt not to at this point . . ."
Posted: 4819 days ago

I don't care for 1 or 2 at all - too cheesy and don't fit the story in my opinion . . .
4 is my favorite.
6 is very similar to 4, but I like the resistor/transistor/whatever it is better than the chip. Though the font/text on 6 is good.
5 is probably in second place with me, though I might like it more if the robot legs were less cartoon-ish.
3 is a pretty great concept, but I can't get into the title font . . .
Good luck! (And good luck sorting through all of these opinions!)

Jason Wallwork (#675)

Location: Peterborough, Canada
Quote: "If it ain't broke you're not trying hard enough."
Posted: 4819 days ago

I don't like any of them really but 5 is ok because at least is resembles the story. 1 is passable but all the others don't really express what the novel is about and are, frankly, boring or noisy.

Holli (#5131)

Location: Boise, Idaho
Quote: ""You fondle my trigger, then you blame my gun." - Fiona Apple "
Posted: 4819 days ago

If I were in a bookstore and knew nothing about the author or the book the first one that would grab my interest would be #6.

zeroiwas (#5416)

Location: NJ, USA
Quote: "Big fan, ever since i bumped into Jennifer Government!"
Posted: 4819 days ago

#2 - simple, powerful; reaches right out and grabs you.

Chez (#419)

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "Keep Thinking, Question Everything"
Posted: 4819 days ago

I like #4 with the burnt capacitor. Clean and good font for the title.

1+2 - Too cliche and doesn't catch my eye at all.

3 - is way too busy

5 - I don't mind except for the legs, it looks a bit to cartoony

6 - The chip is maybe a bit too big and the wording looks awkward

Byne (#4924)

Location: Red Ice Lounge
Posted: 4819 days ago


I like both #4 and #6, because the fact that they're photographed gives them a real-world feel. But #6 is just more interesting.

Yes, I'm happy with that. The more I look at it, the more I like it. It looks very modern, and the font is great.

Panita (#5389)

Location: Sydney, Australia
Quote: "Wear the old coat, buy the new book."
Posted: 4819 days ago

#5 is my favourite. Definitely not #1 or 2.

Machine Man subscriber Dan Maurath (#2013)

Location: Maine
Quote: "You know, we're not the only ones destroying trees. What about beavers? You call yourself an environmentalist, why don't you go club a few beavers? - Lindsay - Arrested Development"
Posted: 4819 days ago

2, 3 or 5

2: very easy to digest

3: Makes me think of a vintage book containing the wonders now of wiki how

5: Everything about this except the austrian olympian is win. Needs someone more professorial.

Pete (#1273)

Location: Variable
Quote: ""One original thought is worth a thousand mindless quotings""
Posted: 4819 days ago

#1 looks like a cheap self help book
#2 Looks like a kids book
#3 Far to busy
#5 Looks like a screenshot from Monty Python

#4 Looks great, followed only slightly behind by #6.

Part of the appeal of #4 over #6 is that a lot of people will not realize at first glance what they are looking at.

Machine Man subscriber Dexxa (#3878)

Location: Iceland
Posted: 4819 days ago

I like numer 4 and 6..

Machine Man subscriber Scott (#4681)

Location: UK
Posted: 4819 days ago

Number 5 for me, followed closely by number 2 or 1.

I saw Number 5 and was very intrigued, it makes me want to pick it up (if i hadn't have already read it) and see what it is all about, Number's 1 and 2 are just cool

Machine Man subscriber Flibblebot (#4040)

Location: Wales
Quote: "I love deadlines. In particular, I love the wooshing sound they make as they pass by."
Posted: 4819 days ago

Number 6 for me, with number 5 a close second.

Number one doesn't feel original to me - I've seen too many books with this type of cover, dating all the way back (I think) to Douglas Coupland's Microserfs.

Number 3 is too fussy, and again seems derivative. Numbers 2 & 4 just seem a bit "meh" to me.

Machine Man subscriber rachel (#4028)

Posted: 4819 days ago

number 4, defo. Only option.

Machine Man subscriber rachel (#4028)

Posted: 4819 days ago

re my number 4 comment above, having read everyone else's votes: um, how about trying to avoid spoiler-by-cover (2,3,5,6)? Cripes.

Caleb (#4976)

Location: NYC
Quote: "Qui tacet consentire - Ovid (He who is silent gives consent.)"
Posted: 4819 days ago

I have spent the last many hours mulling over this and I need to change my vote. (I took all the covers and copied the larger images to stare at for awhile and have honestly changed my opinion.)

My vote for favorite has 180'd to #6...because it is simple, I love the font, I love the lack of the quote and the 'author of Jennifer government', and it holds my attention the most. My opinion totally changed.)

#3 is still good because of the busy aspect. But the quote looks weird and the font now seems out of place.

#5 is still good minus the odd and cartoonish, that is a good word who ever said it first, feel of the legs.

#4 is alright except the font for 'Jennifer government' part seems weird. Out of place.

#'s 1 & 2 are just all wrong. My opinion of those have not changed.

Mats (#1057)

Location: Turku, Finland, Europe, Earth
Quote: ""The optimist thinks this is the best of all possible worlds, and the pessimist knows it." James Branch Cabell via Robert Oppenheimer"
Posted: 4819 days ago

#5 is best. I really like the old-timey-boxer with the moustache! :)
Member #4028 almost changed my mind about it with that whole spoiler-by-cover-comment, but I don't think it's an issue, it's more of a plot-premise-by-cover: part man, part machine. If I can't tell a friend who asks about your book that it's about a man who starts replacing body parts with machine parts I don't know what I'd tell.
Also, BarelyRelevant commented on reddit that you should
"Move the author's name out of the cog unless you can tie it more directly to the illustration. --- I would use a font similar to (or the same as) the title font to designate ownership and separate it entirely from the reviewer's font."
which is such a great idea I don't know why it's not done with every book.

Regarding the other cover-ideas, I think 1, 6 and 4 say "computers" more than "machines", plus #4 looks like a whodunnit with a smoking shell-casing (which, if intentional, might not be a bad thing).
#3 is just way too busy, and a bit childish, it reminds me of a Mecano-set (which might appeal to older readers than you've had before, and again, if it's intentional and ties in with the novel, it might not be a bad thing)
#2 just looks like a ten-year old drew a blue robot that took a cr*p in the lower right corner (sorry, Matt! :D)

Machine Man subscriber Adam (#24)

Location: Morristown, Indiana
Quote: "Why do I blog? Simple, because Max Barry blogs."
Posted: 4819 days ago



Okay, so after a short spell of not reading much other than textbooks for college, in the last few months I've started reading real books again. I don't think I've ever plugged another author in my metablog here; but today, I will.

I found this series, not because it's famous, but rather I was intrigued when I read the summary and it was less than $5 for the whole series at Half Priced Books. The more I read the Foundation Trilogy(which won the Hugo over Lord of the Rings for best series ever) the more I find myself asking, "Isaac Asimov, where have you been all my life?" As confusing as it is to be introduced to a new set of characters every 50 pages, I'm engulfed by the suspense and puzzles and sci-fi awesomeness the Foundation Series offers.

Switching gears...
I would pick #2, but the mustache of #5 is undeniable.

Switching gears again...
Recently, my wife has been singing the lyrics "poopy pants dance", and I don't know why. There is no song called "poopy pants dance", but she insists on singing those words to her own little tune. I want to reiterate, this is my wife, who's 23, not a small child.


Celeste (#2590)

Location: St.L. MO, USA
Quote: "You can't child-proof the world, so world-proof the child."
Posted: 4818 days ago

Number 6. Perhaps its because I have been introduced to Firefly, Portal, and Jennifer Government by my teenage sons. (okay, they didnt actually introduce me to Jennifer Government. They found Nation States, I read your blog for years, and finally went to the library and checked it out). Anyway, those that understand the sinisterness that can lie behind a confident corporate logo (Aperture Science, Blue Sun, Nike) will be drawn to this cover. But #5 might bring in those that have never read stuff like yours. I like it,too.

Chad Ferguson (#5418)

Location: Illinois
Posted: 4818 days ago

I like #1 or #6

Machine Man subscriber Russell (#3897)

Location: USA
Quote: "O Lord, Protect us from those to whom you speak directly"
Posted: 4818 days ago

I just noticed a graphic of someone running with clearly robotic legs in both 2 and 5. noticed it in 5, actually, but again in #2.

Why not go minimalist, embiggen that graphic, and use that as the cover?

but still--i love 5 the more i think about it. Actually has that machine-man vibe, rather than electronics or "I Spy" Book style. and it doesn't go heavy on the robotics aspect either. Fits the story more.

Machine Man subscriber Xpovos (#958)

Location: Washington D.C.
Quote: "Time not important, only life important"
Posted: 4818 days ago

5 > 6 >> the rest.

Machine Man subscriber SilverKnight (#2210)

Location: St. Louis
Posted: 4818 days ago

#2, please.

Machine Man subscriber Guy Wright (#2861)

Location: Toronto, Canada, eh
Quote: "push the button max! (Jack Lemmon as Prof. Fate)"
Posted: 4818 days ago

#4 and #6 kind of hint at the mayhem contained therein. They make you think a little. The rest are too "paint-by-number". I don't know if you changed the content significantly from the subscription version I read in my email, but I think based on that you most enthusiastic response will come from the "fanboy" segment of the reading public - if you know what I mean.

Trespassers Will (#2174)

Location: Puyallup, WA
Quote: ""...and if I laugh at any mortal thing, 'tis that I may not weep" - Lord Byron"
Posted: 4818 days ago

I like #3 best. It makes for a bit of a busy cover, but it conveys very well the seemingly random, cobbled-together nature of the main character.

Machine Man subscriber Guy Wright (#2861)

Location: Toronto, Canada, eh
Quote: "push the button max! (Jack Lemmon as Prof. Fate)"
Posted: 4818 days ago

@#!* I cut myself off the previous comment ...

Why do people think book covers have to be like a rebus? (We'll take a picture of a combine harvester + Da Vinci Vitruvian Man - or how about Vitruvian Man riding a bicycle ... hey, this is easy!)
I like the cleaner look of #4 and #6 - actually, if you took the image on #6 and used it instead on #4 you'd have my vote.

Stean Wilborn (#3923)

Location: Philadelphia
Posted: 4818 days ago

I really enjoy number 6.

Machine Man subscriber Greg Thompson (#4598)

Location: Austin, TX
Posted: 4818 days ago

I like #6, based on the story. But #3 is interesting to stare at.

Stasey Norstrom (#4989)

Location: The Yanqui Northwest
Quote: ""Alice was tired of being dead." - Wonderland"
Posted: 4818 days ago

My wife is a designer and, like Phil Schroeder, she loves cover #3. Out of the six, this one is the most eye catching. This cover draws the eye and, like it or not, will probably be the one to make a potential customer pick it up and look inside. I also have three other points which may or may not piss off some of your current fans.

The first point is that my wife is, well, a female. And not only is she a female, but she's not much of a reader. Most of the posters here are male and have a completely different eye for things. And the other covers are very "male" oriented. Cover #3 is non-gender specific. The title alone is masculine,so you want to reach out to your female market and this cover would have the best chance of crossing over into the girlie group of readers.

Max (can I call you Max?), I would think with each new book, you're hoping to increase your readership and bring about even greater fame and glory. Being a writer, this is all we dream of, of course. So, getting someone who doesn't read much to pick up a book and look inside, or even take notice of it, is a great thing.

The second point is that she is NOT a fan of yours. Not to say she hates your work, but she is not posting her opinion here. We all here will buy your book, no matter what it looks like. While our opinions are important to you, having someone who doesn't know your works as much as your current readership does, would be advantageous.

Geez. I feel like I just wrote an essay. I hope this helps.


Kevin R (#500)

Location: MD, USA
Quote: ""the" - Max Barry"
Posted: 4818 days ago

I would say #2

Jenna (#353)

Location: Maryland, USA
Posted: 4818 days ago

Definitely #5!

Machine Man subscriber Ballotonia (#4030)

Location: Netherlands
Quote: "Vote Early, Vote Often"
Posted: 4818 days ago

My preference: #4.

#1 looks too '80s.
#2 looks like a toy, not serious technology. Or one might expect someone to build a huge robot (compare the size of the leg it's holding).
#3 is way too crowded. Is this a catalog for machine parts?
#4 subtle, intriguing, gets people to read the quote underneath. It not being immediately recognizable as a capacitor is a plus.
#5 reminds me of Monty Python. Ok, I like that too, but it doesn't cover the contents in any way shape or form.
#6 The chip is too techy, it could be a manual for overclocking ones CPU, and it'll turn off some folks who would like the story.


Machine Man subscriber L (#4960)

Posted: 4818 days ago

Oh, Max. None of them work for this book. (#6 is the best of the bunch, but you can find something much better. If you go with #6, use the font from #4.) I think the best approach for something like this is to get designs by 6 different people rather than 6 designs by one person.

I guess I just don't understand why you would consider a retro/old-fashioned/cartoony design for this book. The Machine Man cover should be high tech, shiny, and streamlined!

What happens to come to mind for me would be something like this: A medium-small photo-realistic image of a Lola-esque woman "with her arms full of [prosthetic] legs." Her face shouldn't be very clear. Maybe a leg is even sticking up and blocking her face. But then, in the foreground, going all the way across the cover would be one of the Contours -- sleek, silver, shiny, massive, and futuristic. Something like that. But if not that, please, please, don't go for pixelated or hand-drawn!

Melinda Kovac (#583)

Location: South Australia
Quote: "Nothing says feminine like a burping contest"
Posted: 4818 days ago

Am I too late to vote? I really like #1, but honestly like them all apart from #3

Machine Man subscriber Lossenelin (#3167)

Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
Posted: 4818 days ago

probably to late to vote, but I have the Machine Man nut next to my username so maybe my vote counts more than others?

I love #3, good use of shadow and white space, I'd notice that on a bookstore shelf

Byron (#5419)

Location: St. Louis
Posted: 4818 days ago

Gotta say #5 reminds me of Freddie Mercury - the stache and missing shirt ring the bell.

I'm going with #4 or #6, probably 4.

Best of luck with the book!

Robb (#5002)

Location: Switzerland, Florida, USA
Quote: "symmetry is a cop-out"
Posted: 4818 days ago

#4 totally rocks because I don't really know what it is. plus it's got a really cool, modern looking graphic.
#2 comes in second and I like #5, but I would edit it a bit....

Rowdy Geirsson (#3814)

Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Quote: ""
Posted: 4818 days ago

I like #1 because it gives the most clear visual message in terms of meaning...the others mostly just look cool (in varying degrees). 2, 3, and 5 have hint at the message as well, but I think 1 conveys it best. As some of the others have suggested, the pixelated man graphic in 1 may not be the most unique thing ever, but the fact that his leg is robotic gives a good signal about the novel's content, and I like how that ties in with the coded text on the page. More than the others, it just drives home the point that technology rules/takes over our lives. Besides, don't publishers prefer tried and true imagery anyway?

Nigel (#5420)

Posted: 4818 days ago

Number 5 is my first pick.

If that one wasn't included in the mix I'd choose 6.

Adam A. (#256)

Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Quote: "Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that." -George Carlin"
Posted: 4818 days ago

#5 for sure. That one definitely grabs you. Especially next to the others. I agree with the earlier comment; if I saw that on a bookstore shelf, I'd pick it up. I like the comic-art style legs. Fantastic.

Andrew (#1279)

Location: Texas
Posted: 4817 days ago

1&2, but I keep looking at 2!

So 2 is probably the answer!

Machine Man subscriber Shush (#4025)

Location: UK
Quote: "Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool."
Posted: 4817 days ago

I like 2 best - it looks like the sort of book I'd like to read and would catch my eye. But for some strange reason 4 seems to work as well it just seems right for a Max Barry book!

Alex (#4996)

Location: Chicago
Quote: "I am not a number! I am a free man! *is handed a printout* ...Oh, I guess I'm actually #4996. "
Posted: 4817 days ago

I like #6 the most, for the reasons above. It really grabs my attention as a sci-fi thriller.

Brian (#3947)

Location: Ohio, USA
Posted: 4817 days ago

I like that #5 really conveys a lot of what the story is about (arguably #1 and #2 do this also, but not as well).

If I see "Max Barry" (or Maxx - tee hee) I buy the book. If I'm the average shopper, I'm looking for a cover that will grab my attention. That being said, Here are my thoughts:

#4 and #6 just don't pop out. #1 makes me pick up the book because I grew up in the 80s. A young hipster may as well, because they wish they grew up in the 80s. I suppose this hits a couple target demographics, so #1 is not too bad. #2 I like as well. To me it conveys how machine has taken over the element of humanity in the main character. I think the blob in the lower right corner is supposed to be in oil can? #3 is too busy and makes me want to throw up when I look at it.

I hope this helps. If it does, feel free to reward me with a book dedication, or a free copy of the book, or a shout out sometime.

Machine Man subscriber Randy (#2374)

Location: Ravena, NY
Quote: "I could write a book about being lazy. I just don't feel like it."
Posted: 4817 days ago

I gotta go with #6. For me it is the only one that, if I didn't recognize the author, I would pick up and read the jacket. This was the case for Jennifer Gov. and I have been a fan ever since.

Mark (#2176)

Location: Ohio, USA
Posted: 4817 days ago


or #6

negative to 1,2,and 3

Like 5 also

Mark (#2176)

Location: Ohio, USA
Posted: 4817 days ago

need this book in HARDCOVER like all your other first edition books I own!!

Machine Man subscriber Barrie (#5111)

Location: Blackheath Australia
Quote: "So be it, mergatron!"
Posted: 4817 days ago

I'm going for #6, it reads well visually, text-wise and image-wise.

BTW have you ever seen the film The Terminal Man, Max?
Guy has a chip planted in his brain to change his behaviour, guy goes even crazier, guy is terminated. Good film, a bit cultish, stars George Segal, some excellent screenplay and camera work.

Feedback re why Vintage is being more friendly:
1. eBooks, such as some of yours, are starting to have an impact on traditional publishing, therefore, publishers want to retain their relationship with 'their' authors due to this threat and are being more democratic (amazing).
2. It was a mistake and they will never contact you again re covers.

Ever thought of writing a contract yourself Max, you know, instead of signing a publishers contract they sign yours, with all the conditions YOU want.

There's a wonderful story on the Guardian site by Lionel Schriver about her book We Need to Talk About Kevin, nasty, violent story and well written. The New York publishers sent some covers to her for the US edition, they were all chick lit ideas (totally clueless - I mean did they read the bloody book?), she was appalled - I write a nasty book. And they want a girly cover on it, she said.

I could go on but I have a book to edit.

Cheers, Barrie

Machine Man subscriber Morlok8k (#4133)

Location: The Moon
Quote: "I like stuff..."
Posted: 4817 days ago

first choice - 6
2nd choice - 3

Jennifer (#1643)

Posted: 4817 days ago

Number 2. It would actually make me pick up the book. Everything else is just stupid looking. In my personal opinion of course.

Machine Man subscriber Jamie (#3000)

Location: UK
Posted: 4817 days ago

This is quite hard to decide (and tbh, you'll probably read what everyone says about each cover and choose one based on that feedback, rather than what people themselves choose).


1. Originally my first choice, but I don't like the HTML - it could turn off a lot of casual readers who won't know what it means - plus it has no relevance at all to the content.
2 - No. Just no. He's a man becoming a machine. He's not a robot. And that blue robot is just very clichéd.
3 - Busy, but I can appreciate why that might work on the shelf. The text style doesn't work though.
4 - Nice, simple, understated (like Company or Jen Government), but to a casual reader, what the heck is that thing?
5 - I know a lot of people like it, but I just don't. Possibly it gives people too complete a view of what the novel is about, removing a bit of the mystery?
6 - To me, the best by far. Like 4 it's simple and understated, and contains a hint of mystery which could pique peoples' curiosity - the melting processor suggesting that not all is well. I also like the font used, which suits it very well.


- Someone said that the quote is damning with faint praise. I agree, it should go.
- Someone also said your name should be large on the book. Again I agree, and 6 is the best in this respect.
- It's been noted that what people on here say may not be best for getting casual readers to pick it off the shelf (I guess this is why publishers usually choose it themselves). I'd agree, and for that reason I'd be wary of just blindly going with the majority view. Take everything into consideration and make your own choice.

I hope that's been helpful, and whichever cover you end up choosing, I'm looking forward to it! :)

MaceQuantex (#2672)

Location: Minnesota
Posted: 4817 days ago

6... definitely

Zwangzug (#3872)

Location: GMT -6
Quote: "It ain't over till it's over"
Posted: 4816 days ago

I like 1, 3 is too cluttered.

SaraJane (#141)

Location: Vancouver, BC
Quote: "It's better to die on your feet than to live on your knees."
Posted: 4816 days ago

I like #5. All of the covers are great, but for some reason #5 looks to me like the kind of cover that would draw in someone who may not already be familiar with your books.

Machine Man subscriber L (#4960)

Posted: 4816 days ago

The comments from Todd (#3429) are particularly on point, I think. It's useful to have specific criteria by which to judge....

Machine Man subscriber Adam (#4196)

Location: Maryland
Posted: 4816 days ago

I think I would have to go with #4. #2 would be my second choice.

Machine Man subscriber Yannick (#3858)

Location: Heist, Belgium
Quote: "he reads things"
Posted: 4816 days ago

Max! At first I was just going to post which cover I liked the most, but then I saw how many people had already commented. So I figured I would have to persuade you by using lots and lots of words and explanations, which, come to think of it, might not be the brightest idea - you being an actual writer and all. Then again, I already have Notepad open, so I guess there's no turning back now. Also, you get to sit there and move your eyeballs for longer, so there's that, too.

#1: I like this one the most. The pixelated man fits perfectly with the title font, they bleed together, as if the text is also part of the image, or the other way around. The robotic left leg pretty much gives the reader just enough, it presents us with a nice introduction for the story, without immediately letting on too much. I also like how the man has his sleeved rolled up, because that's how I imagined Charlie walking around, all casual like, sipping some coffee, tweeking the kneejoint of his left robotic leg, you know. The command lines and HTML code are a nice touch, they suggest a rather technical, computer-oriented vibe, all the while not seeming too nerdy or what-have-you.
I also checked the colour-code. It's correct. Good, so that's 5 e-mails less about how the hex code on your cover isn't right.

#2: I quite like this cover, though I don't feel a connection to the novel at all. The complete robot is pretty much exactly the opposite of Charlie, who still had a human element to him. The way it's clamping a human leg also suggests, at least I think so, that the novel is about a robot becoming a man, slowly trying to integrate itself into society. Maybe that's just me, I don't know. I certainly like the blue though (which is a nice touch in the previous cover, too).
Also, the pile of human body-parts kind of looks like a turd. If you squint a little.

#3: I like this cover the least, I think. It's really really busy. Robots have a lot of parts. I think that is what this cover is sending out, which, of course, is completely correct. But that's it. Also, for weird people like me, copy-pasted bits and pieces really stand out, like the mirrored nut, the L-shaped metal piece, the semi-geared circle with three holes in it. The painted-like font doesn't really fit either, I think. I can't really explain, but it feels "off". Maybe that's just me being weird again, I don't know. Robots are about diagrams and blue-prints and straight lines and things, in my mind. The swirly curvy font just completely opposes that. It could be a nice metaphor for the human element, I guess, the love between Charlie and Lola - the human love, in the midst of the whole "oh hey, that guy is half a robot" kind of thing. Which is nice.

#4: I really love this one, too. I love the minimalistic aspect about it, the close-up of a single transistor. That also suggests the technical side of the story again, without going over the top. While the smoke coming out of it is a nice fore-shadowing of how the robot aspect will disfunction, the actual smoke used on the cover looks terrible. It's a nice effect, but it's completely out of place in comparison with the transistor. It's too detailed, too intricate, smoke doesn't do that on such a small scale. (I'm studying Physics, I can't help myself). Also, maybe it would look nice if "Max Barry, Author of JENNIFER GOVERNMENT" and the markings on the transistor were the same blue as before, but I guess the covers are past the editing stage and such.

#5: This one comes close to being last. I really don't like all the different styles. The drawn robot legs, the cogs and gears behind the title, the vintage drawing of the ol' bodybuilder-with-mustache, they're all really cool on their own, but mixed together like that, I don't know. It doesn't fit. Maybe it's me.

#6: This cover comes in as a close second. I have pretty much the same remarks about it as for cover #4, really. The smoke looks a bit better. I like the font a bit better, it looks more console-y, which is nice. If your name would've been the same blue as the markings on the chip and the smoke looked a bit better still, I wouldn't have been able to decide between this one and #1.

So yeah, cover #1 for me. I hope my thoughts and comments are of any help at all!


Machine Man subscriber Max

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "I'm my number one fan!"
Posted: 4816 days ago

These comments are really fantastic. Thank you all so much. I'm compiling votes now.

This comment serves as a marker, so if I come back later and there are newer votes, I know where to start counting from. Oh, yeah. Logic, baby.

Machine Man subscriber Hyper (#4612)

Location: Texas, USA
Quote: ""A person who won't read has no advantage over one who can't read. " --Mark Twain"
Posted: 4816 days ago

So I am the first of the "late" votes? Sweet...

I like #5 the best. I also like numbers 1 and 3 (although it is a bit busy).

Ucmeas Zardoz (#5344)

Location: Kingsport, Tennessee
Quote: "What if everything, not only just every living thing, but everything, were abl to communicate its consciousness to us? I doubt we wld treat th world as we do. Larry Vance Mills, 201012241545"
Posted: 4816 days ago

dear Max Barry,

Ucmeas Zardoz (#5344)

Location: Kingsport, Tennessee
Quote: "What if everything, not only just every living thing, but everything, were abl to communicate its consciousness to us? I doubt we wld treat th world as we do. Larry Vance Mills, 201012241545"
Posted: 4816 days ago

dear Max, my apologies -- some inadvertent keystroke sent th comment bfore i had really started. I believe cover #6 best evinces th ineluctabl dybospheric immersion of our biological apparatus into a cyborganism. Goodluck to u on its publication & sales.

Hans Miniar (#2600)

Location: Iceland
Quote: "~your love is made of happy, and sometimes exhasperation~"
Posted: 4816 days ago

I took the time to look at all the covers, one for one, and think about this before I write this comment.

I've noticed a lot of people have said #5. I don't agree with them.
There's something "off" about it.
The cartoon legs really don't appeal to me, and the mustached top half of the character looks very familiar. I believe I've seen that cut-out a lot of times before and usually in a purely "silly" or comedy setting and it makes the book look a little bit childish for it.

The ones I like are four and six.
#4 better than #6 as it seems cleaner, simpler and the lettering is better I'd think.
It also matches the books of yours that I already have, so there's that.
The cover of Company the most.

Whatever you do.. Don't put #3 on it.
It looks half way between a DIY instruction book or idea book and a children's "count the x" book.
1 and 2 just look blah to to me. I wouldn't pick up books with those covers to examine further if it wasn't for already knowing the author.

Chloe (#1572)

Location: Toronto
Quote: "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - HST"
Posted: 4815 days ago

#5 is great! Definitely my favourite. I also like #3.

Machine Man subscriber Maria (#4121)

Posted: 4815 days ago


Kevin Kelsey (#1511)

Location: Fayetteville, Ar USA
Quote: ""So, I just cut them up like regular chickens? 'Sure, yeah, just cut them up like regular chickens'""
Posted: 4815 days ago

#2 or #5.

Machine Man subscriber SRD (#2889)

Location: Ogden, Utah
Posted: 4815 days ago

2 is the best.

uyen (#3223)

Location: Melbourne, Victoria
Posted: 4815 days ago

top three in order of awesomeness:

Machine Man subscriber Randy (#2374)

Location: Ravena, NY
Quote: "I could write a book about being lazy. I just don't feel like it."
Posted: 4814 days ago

BTW...I agree with Mark fromn Ohio. A hardcover option would be nice, especially for those of us with Max's shiny nuts next to our name--er--you know what I mean.

James (#5299)

Location: [email protected]
Quote: "[email protected]"
Posted: 4814 days ago

#5 is the go for me...

Machine Man subscriber Jono (#2764)

Location: Hamilton
Posted: 4814 days ago

My favourite is 6, and then 5

Machine Man subscriber David (#1456)

Location: Sydney, Australia
Quote: "Why are the pretty ones always insane?"
Posted: 4814 days ago

Numbers 2, 3 and 6 in that order. I can't believe people who like any of the other covers are allowed to vote. No wonder the world is going to hell in a gas guzzler.

Ben (#5426)

Location: California
Posted: 4813 days ago

#5, followed by #3

Connor C. (#3507)

Location: San Antonio, TX & Peoria, IL
Quote: "I think, therefore I am. This but merely scratches the surface of what it is to be Human"
Posted: 4811 days ago

I love #1 mostly because I love that classic 8-bit imagery.

Honestly as much as I adore that one, #6 does the most for the book. The burning micro-chip is eye popping, fresh, and most of all the text on it really makes you think.

Sally F. (#5444)

Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA
Quote: "Budokan made Cheap Trick famous, Cheap Trick made Budokan famous. -Rick Nielsen"
Posted: 4801 days ago

#4 and then #6 - the others are kinda corny.

Scott (#5541)

Posted: 4735 days ago

#1 Just the look of it, I would buy just for the cover

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