e-Book Cover Design Awards, September 2011 Part 1

by Joel Friedlander on October 16, 2011 · 17 comments

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Welcome to this edition of the e-Book Cover Design Awards. This edition is for submissions during September, 2011.

Here’s what we received:
189 covers in the Fiction category
38 covers in the Nonfiction category

Awards and Badges
Winner’s badges in each category are awarded each month. Due to the large number of entries this month, I divided the entries into a series of posts. Here are the other posts in the series:

e-Book Cover Design Awards, September 2011 Part 1 Fiction:
e-Book Cover Design Awards, September 2011 Part 2 Fiction
e-Book Cover Design Awards, September 2011 Part 3 Fiction
e-Book Cover Design Awards, September 2011 Part 4 Nonfiction
e-Book Cover Design Awards, September 2011 Award Winners

I’ve added comments (JF: ) to many of the entries, but not all. Thanks to everyone who participated. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did. Please leave a comment to let me know what you think, too.

Here is the first section of covers.

Fiction Covers, Part 1

Fisher Thompson submitted 119 in the Fiction category. Design by Silas McCorkle, saying “A time, a place, an awesome cover.”

Piotr Kowalczyk submitted #VSS Anthology, Vol.1 in the Fiction category. Design by Piotr Kowalczyk, saying “A cover of a book with the selection of the best 140-character stories written on Twiter. The common tag for Twitter fiction is #vss, which stands for “very short story.” The book was published in May 2010. More information about it.

JF: I like the abstract coolness of this cover but wonder if the title will show up when reduced.

Julius Thompson submitted A Brownstone In Brookklyn in the Fiction category. Design by Heather McAlendin, saying “Heather did a fantastic cover with the man walking on the shadows in front of A Brownstone In Brooklyn. It was a fanastic job..”

Harol Marshall submitted A Corpse for the Matadora in the Fiction category. Design by Rob S. Furr.

JF: Stronger typography would have made this nice piece of artwork really sing.

Alan Tucker submitted A Cure for Chaos, Mother-Earth Series, Book 2 in the Fiction category. Design by Clint Thorne and Alan Tucker.

Mary Anne Graham submitted A Golden Forever in the Fiction category. Design by John W. Graham, saying “I love this cover that my DH, John W. Graham, designed for A Golden Forever. He had to create a door for the cage – it was important to the story. He had to redraw and shadow a lot of the cage. And I love the rose and the feathers w/are important to the story as well.”

JF: It’s obvious that a lot of work went into this cover. In the end, the combination of the cursive type over the birdcage pattern doesn’t work.

C.D. Reimer submitted A Leap of Faith in the Fiction category. Design by C.D. Reimer, saying “Since I sell short story ebooks, I can’t afford to put much money into the covers. However, the cover for “A Leap of Faith” is my favorite with the twilight picture of a train station platform that matches the short story perfectly. Everything else is kept simple and elegant.”

John O’Brien submitted A New World: Chaos in the Fiction category. Design by SM Reine.

D L Havlin submitted A Place No One Should Go in the Fiction category. Design by Rebecca Melvin – Double Edge Press.

Dan submitted Ancheta / The Investigation in the Fiction category. Design by Mediamorphosis, saying “In Romanian. “Ancheta” starts with the case of a missing wife, who suddenly disappears, while the hero must rebuild his life in a twisted way throughout the story, until he finds peace in a remote port city.”

JF: This strong cover utilizes a bit of surrealism that heightens its allure.

DJ Hazard submitted Arcturus Initiative: Book One in the Fiction category. Design by DJ Hazard, saying “Several thousand people have been watched, approached and recruited by an immense secret space program, as told through the journal of one of the participants. Author’s note: I originally published Arcturus Initiative as real time blog entries that, according to the stat meter, allegedly caught the attention of several government agencies and several foreign countries until I revealed it was fiction.”

Susan Day submitted Astro’s Adventures. The Great Escape in the Fiction category. Design by Jennifer Morgan, saying “This is a great design that really captures the look of the shaggy dog that the book was based on.”

JF: This completely adorable artwork feels like it’s jamming the title into a small space, but I love the typography choices the designer has made, they add a lot to the appeal.

Matt Syverson submitted Band On The Run in the Fiction category. Design by Tony Szatkowski, saying “Thanks, Joel! I hope you like it!”

JF: A strong graphic design hindered by low-contrast color choices.

Patricia Lynne submitted Being Human in the Fiction category. Design by Keary Taylor.

K. W. Jeter submitted Black Nightgown in the Fiction category. Design by K. W. Jeter, saying “Self-designed cover for a short story publication.”

Algor X. Dennison submitted Blinding Moon in the Fiction category. Design by Algor X. Dennison, saying “Cover I did recently for a trilogy of werewolf short stories. Font is Destroy, from fontsquirrel.com.”

JF: This is another graphically-strong cover with questionable type. The distressed look is not going away anytime soon, but I think it affects the readability of this title.

Wesley Allison submitted Blood Trade in the Fiction category. Design by Wesley Allison.

JF: Vampires? Werewolves? Go-go dancers? In Vegas? I love this.

David Mignery submitted Blue Hotel in the Fiction category. Design by David Mignery.

JF: This cover shows how effective restraint can be.

Vanessa Finaughty submitted Boogie Wugie in the Fiction category. Design by Alic & Vanessa Finaughty, saying “A light-hearted children’s flash fiction story where a little girl meets the monster in her closet.”

Stefano Boscutti submitted BOSCUTTI’S DON SIMPSON in the Fiction category. Design by Stefano Boscutti, saying “I love black and white. Hopefully it makes the story look more real, more true (which is my kind of fiction).”

JF: The designer knows how to handle type, and I’m a big fan of black and white when it’s used well, as it is here, but I really don’t understand why the type runs right over the face.

Enos Russell, Ph.D submitted Bottoms Up in the Fiction category. Design by Enos Rusell, saying “Why two links? What’s the difference between the Cover’s url and entry url? Why are they different?”

Gareth Lewis submitted Broken Worlds in the Fiction category.

Mark Neumayer submitted Burn Shadows in the Fiction category. Design by Mark Neumayer, saying “Created as the cover for a novella my friend John Hayward wrote.”

Elizabeth Ann West submitted Cancelled in the Fiction category. Design by Melissa Oyler, saying “The book is a modern romance with a twist. We wanted the cover to stand out slightly from the crowd, instead of a couple in the heat of passion, it features other romantic concepts such as the flowers and wedding invitation. The story is about an engagement called off. Although my author name is smaller than normal, it was a conscious decision because as a first book, my name won’t be as recognizable. The cover also fits into the theme of the collection of books planned: PAST DUE a book about debt and love will be bills stamped red, and SERVED, a sequel to CANCELLED, will be blue court papers stamped red. Thank you for your consideration.”

JF: This cover, the result of a lot of thought, shows the limitations of literalness in cover design. An e-book cover needs one clear graphic, and I’m afraid all the symbolism may be lost on the casual browser.

J. Fields Jr. submitted Casino Shuffle in the Fiction category. Design by J. Fields Jr., saying “I’m an indie author with a commercial art and design background. I painted the cover in Corel X program.”

Chris Fannon submitted Chambers by Sarah Gerdes in the Fiction category. Design by Chris Fannon, saying “Here’s a cover I designed a few months ago for a young adult novel by the author Sarah Gerdes. It’s a lot like Michael Crichton’s TIMELINE, if the time-travelers were teens and went back to ancient China rather than Medieval Europe. Since this was intended to be released as an e-book first, I wanted a cover with a very limited color palate that would look striking even from a thumbnail size.”

JF: An interesting design that again shows the importance of good color choices. Here the lack of contrast between the title and background makes it hard to read.

Robert Hart submitted Cherry Bucket & Other Stories in the Fiction category. Design by Robert Hart, saying “Thanks to Simon for standing still with a jam bucket on his head.”

Elle Strauss submitted CLOCKWISE in the Fiction category. Design by Tasia Strauss, saying “Thanks!”

Steven Porter submitted Confessions of the Meek & the Valiant in the Fiction category. Design by Dawn M. Porter, saying “Thanks!”

GEORGE STRAATMAN submitted Converging: Closures in Blood in the Fiction category. Design by SefDesign (Steven Efondo), saying “This cover was designed by Steven Efondo for the final segment of my Converging trilogy.”

JF: All of Straatman’s covers use beautiful artwork and innovative use of lettering and typography. He is creating a strongly branded presence in the market. For an example of how this look translates to a website, check the author’s.

Mary Rae submitted Corvus The Crow in the Fiction category. Design by Mary Rae, saying “I’m an artist and did the watercolor myself.”

Phil Baechler submitted Coyote Crossing in the Fiction category. Design by Oscar Baechler, saying “Cover designer Oscar Baechler is a 3-D Blender artist in Seattle.”

Randy Attwood submitted Crazy About You in the Fiction category. Design by Randy Attwood.

Phillip Frey submitted DANGEROUS TIMES in the Fiction category. Design by Joleene Naylor & Jerry Lacy, saying “Joleene Naylor designed the cover using the spider photo taken by Jerry Lacy.”

Andrea Parnell submitted Dark Prelude in the Fiction category. Design by Frauke Spanuth, Croco Designs, saying “Dark Prelude is a free novella prequel to the novel Dark Splendor. Dark Prelude is available through the Smashwords distribution channel excluding Amazon.”

JF: This professionally-designed cover uses beautiful art but looks more like a print cover converted for e-book use.

Rick Tannenbaum submitted Dead Artist in the Fiction category. Design by Ridk Tannenbaum.

Lucinda Brant submitted Deadly Engagement: A Georgian Historical Mystery in the Fiction category. Design by Sprigleaf.com, saying “Hope it was okay to submit two book covers this month! Thank again for hosting this award.”

R.E. McDermott submitted Deadly Straits in the Fiction category. Design by Jeroen Ten Berge, saying “This cover was done by by Jeroen ten Berge from Wellington, NZ. I left the design completely in his hands and I couldn’t have been more pleased. The cover scene is from the climax and (in my opinion anyway) really positions the book as the fast-action thriller that it is.”

JF: The designer is a highly-skilled cover designer and this cover is a good example.

Michael Grant submitted Dear Son, Hey Ma in the Fiction category. Design by Michael Grant.

Steven J Pemberton submitted Death & Magic in the Fiction category. Design by Steven J Pemberton, saying “Death & Magic is a murder mystery set in a school for wizards.”

JF: An effective and atmospheric cover for a series design.

JL Rehman submitted Death Impressions in the Fiction category. Design by JL Rehman.

Sunil Bhatia submitted Diana’s Ring in the Fiction category. Design by BookBaby, saying “If I have to explain my cover, it’s probably not an effective cover.”

W. F. Owen submitted Down the Doodlebug Hole in the Fiction category. Design by W. F. Owen.

Thomas Burchfield submitted Dragon’s Ark in the Fiction category. Design by Cathi Stevenson/Book Cover Express, saying “The cover for this book seems to be a case of psychic communication. I gave designer Cathi Stevenson (Book Express) only basic information about the story and plot of Dragon’s Ark. She came back with what you see here. It captures the fiendish ruthlessness of its central character and his haunted world, and, it reflects an actual scene in the novel. I couldn’t have been more surprised or happier.”

David Dvorkin submitted Earthmen and Other Aliens in the Fiction category. Design by David Dvorkin.

Laura Morrigan submitted Entangled in the Fiction category. Design by Laura Morrigan, saying “I’m not sure if you consider anthologies in your competition, but they do present a set of unique challenges… Not the least of which is fitting so many names with a title and an image! This is an anthology to raise money for breast cancer research—I donated my services and all proceeds will go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.”

JF: Laura is right to point out the challenges of a cover with many authors to credit, but here I wish she had picked a different color for the title, which is disappearing against the background. And the display font loses its allure when you have to reduce it as much as has been done here.

Jeff Thomason submitted Euphony in E in the Fiction category. Design by Jeff Thomason CE.

Wright Forbucks submitted Even Steven in the Fiction category. Design by Wright Forbucks, saying “Self designed using Photoshop.”

JF: This design shows one way to make a title that really stands out.

K. W. Jeter submitted FAREWELL HORIZONTAL in the Fiction category. Design by K. W. Jeter, saying “Self-designed cover for a backlist science fiction title.”

David Grace submitted Fever Dreams in the Fiction category. Design by David Grace, saying “The background is a photo I took in a Florida Cypress swamp. The body is that of my 18 year-old god daughter. The photo was modified, the cover assembled and text applied in PhotoShop CS2.”

J. Adams submitted Fox: Book One/ Funding Angel in the Fiction category. Design by Judy Bullard, saying “Once on the Amazon book page, click on the cover to enlarge.”

J. Adams submitted Fox: Book Two/ Elmyr’s Angel in the Fiction category. Design by Judy Bullard, saying “On the Amazon book page, click the cover to enlarge.”

JF: I admit I can’t pronounce her name, but Elmyr is very cute. Unfortunately, both these covers suffer from type that has been put against a very busy background. This not only makes it harder to read, but—particularly in Book 2—introduces a visual confusion into the tight confines of the cover.

Fabian Black submitted Fresh From The Sea in the Fiction category. Design by Justin James of Dare Empire, saying “I love the quality of light in this cover, the fresh brightness is perfect for the title and the seaside setting of the story.”

JF: This book has elegant typography, but I was surprised to find there was no print edition, it looks like it was designed for print. Even at this size, some of the type is unreadably small.

Jonathan Sturak submitted From Vegas With Blood in the Fiction category. Design by Jonathan Sturak.

Carol Newman Cronin submitted Game of Sails: an Olympic Love Story in the Fiction category. Design by Live Wire, saying “Thanks for doing this! I look forward to seeing the other September submissions.”

JF: A simple but effective e-book cover, just right for this use.

Thomas K. Carpenter submitted Gamers in the Fiction category. Design by Rachel J. Carpenter, saying “The cover was made with Photoshop CS5.”

D. Miles Martin submitted Good Deeds in the Fiction category. Design by D. Miles Martin, saying “I used PhotoShop to make a template so that all my covers have the same layout and feel. Good Deeds used a black and white photo that was colored to shades of green, yellow, and brown.”

S.L. Naeole submitted Gossamer (A Faeble Novel) in the Fiction category. Design by S.L. Naeole.

JF: This is an interesting cover, it comes close in many ways. But I find the way the spit of land bisects the girl’s face disconcerting. And although the palette is controlled, there are way too many things going on here, between all the images composited together, the swashes of script type, and the texture in the author’s name.

Dale Cusack submitted Grace and the Drawl in the Fiction category. Design by Dennis Ma, saying “Dennis wanted a traditional Japanese woodblock look to complement the Japanese flavour in the story.”

Robin Helm submitted Guardian in the Fiction category. Design by Robin Helm, saying “The photography was done by Phil Thompson.”

Gerard Whittaker submitted Gwenna in the Fiction category. Design by Gerard Whittaker, saying “Both book and cover were created by the author.”

Alex Russell submitted iDream Ice-Cream iScream : Edward Lear meets The Usual Suspects in the Fiction category. Design by Alex Russell / Jane Booth, saying “I wanted the cover to represent the book’s unsettling nature – a juxtaposition of whimsy and menace. The figure against the jangling
background is a modified image based on Munch’s “The Scream”. Is the person now screaming or about to “munch” an ice-cream? The difference in the size of the hands is also disquieting, as is the ambiguous gender of the figure. The significance of the ice-cream cone is revealed later in a dramatic episode of the book..”

Caterina Nikolaus submitted Il drago e la principessa in the Fiction category. Design by Jasmin Weigelt, saying “A fantastic story for children. The cover was designed to fit the e-book, but to be able to fit also a bi-lingual print edition with both the Italian and the German title – and of course the author’s name – at the cover.”

Mel Comley submitted Impeding Justice in the Fiction category. Design by Tania Tirraoro, saying “This is the cover of my best-selling thriller, created for me by my dear friend, Tania.”

Sharon E. Cathcart submitted In The Eye of The Beholder in the Fiction category. Design by James Courtney, saying “Cover designed by James Courtney. Models are Rachael Gray and Jeffrey Cathcart.”

JF: Another cover with a lot of work in it, and an interesting illustration, but which just misses. The very blocky layout of the cover doesn’t help, and in the end the choices of design and typography lack dynamism.

Check back tomorrow for another installment.

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    { 12 comments… read them below or add one }

    Veritas August 21, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    I found your comments interesting until I got to this. “An e-book cover needs one clear graphic, and I’m afraid all the symbolism may be lost on the casual browser.”

    One clear graphic? That caused you to lose all credibility with me – and I suspect many others. It is an unsupported, unrealistic personal bias on your part. An eBook cover has little to differentiate it from any print cover once you take the spine, resolution, and rear cover out of the equation. Everything that applies to a print cover applies to an eBook cover; both are serving the same purpose.


    Tony (Anthony) Cameron

    Background: Thirty plus years in publishing as a writer editor, tertiary qualifications in journalism, Eng. Lit, and Psych. My Psych degree thesis focused on the effect of targeted advertising on modern society. Not much has changed since those days other than the volume and more specific focus – thank to Google and their ilk.


    Elizabeth Ann West October 19, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Thanks Joel for critiquing my cover! :) I can see the concern about too many symbols. And the flowers were a last minute add on, but without them, the cover looked extremely flat. I was lucky that my designer Melissa Oyler is a lot like you Joel, and she gave me multiple options and really reined back my ideas. Can you believe I wanted a different type of cell phone on each cover at one point to represent the MC? LOL. Yeah. She rightly pointed out how dated those could look in just a few months!


    Joel Friedlander October 19, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Elizabeth, this is actually a very common problem for authors, who know their books so well. There are more comments about this situation on subsequent posts in this series, and I want to thank you for participating.


    Joel Friedlander October 16, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Stay tuned, lots more covers coming tomorrow.


    George Angus October 16, 2011 at 9:45 am


    This post really should help folks out as they work on covering their work.

    Also, I know that putting together a post like this with all the cover images is a tremendous amount of work. From my standpoint, it was well worth it!



    Roger C. Parker October 16, 2011 at 9:09 am

    Dear Joel:
    Thanks for sharing these.

    There is a wonderful gamut of images to look at and react to.

    One thing that occurred to me is how some images are really appropriate for the title, but, if used with a different title, would be totally inappropriate.

    It reminded me that, at one point, Adobe had a wonderful corporate presentation showing familiar logos redesigned and typeset using another firm’s colors and typography. I.e., using the IBM reset using CocaCola colors and type.

    Looking forward to tomorrow’s installment.


    Ros October 16, 2011 at 4:55 am

    It’s really fascinating looking at these and thinking about what works well and why. The one that stood out for me was Casino Shuffle. I love the use of the playing card with the legs, the unusual layout and the typography.

    The one that worries me is Deadly Engagement. I’m almost certain that’s a picture of the actor Richard Armitage in which case I’d be amazed if that photo is licensed for use as cover art.


    Pepper October 16, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    Re Deadly Engagement (I think an effective cover for the subject matter/time period – the sword really stands out) but Richard Armitage??? I thought it was Alisdair Mckenzie from Monarch of the Glen!


    Ros October 16, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    It seems I’m not the first to think it’s Armitage: http://www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com/index.php/weblog/comments/hold-up-is-that-richard-armitage/ The photo they’ve used seems a pretty clear case to me. He does look a bit like Archie, though, you’re right!


    Joel Friedlander October 16, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    Ros, thanks for linking to the discussion. I have no idea about the origin of the artwork used on this cover, but all self-publishers need to be aware of copyright and how to determine which images can be used and which cannot.


    A.R. Williams October 16, 2011 at 12:27 am

    These are some great covers. I think the longer Indie publishing exists the better the e-books created will become in all aspects of the product. Thank you for doing this as I know it takes a lot of time and effort to run contest such as these.


    Mindy Ross October 21, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Thans for this. I’m learning what works and what doesn’t.


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