e-Book Cover Design Awards, September 2011 Part 3

by Joel Friedlander on October 18, 2011 · 23 comments

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This is the third of five posts of e-book covers submitted for the September e-Book Cover Design Awards. 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


Alan Hutcheson submitted Boomerang in the Fiction category. Design by Laura Lakey, saying “I had been stuck with the world’s most boring cover forever (as a matter of fact it can still be seen on the paperback listings for Boomerang at Amazon, even though the paperback now has the new artwork too, darn it) when I was fortunate to be able to commission Laura Lakey to design this dynamite cover for me.”

JF: The designer is a highly experienced artist who here gives us a terrific illustration and a controlled palette that keeps this rather busy design from going over the edge. It would have been interesting to see this with a larger version of the title.


Michael Mullin submitted 8: The Untold Story of the 8th Dwarf in the Fiction category. Design by John Skewes, saying “Thanks for running this contest! Very Cool! Hope you like my cover.”


JF: A terrific illustration and a neat concept for a cover, although overall it comes across as a bit dark.


Lynn Emery submitted A Darker Shade of Midnight in the Fiction category. Design by Pati Nagle.

JF: An eerie and evocative cover. A different color for the name would have been good, too.


Michelle Halket submitted Amber Frost in the Fiction category. Design by Michelle Halket, saying “This cover was designed in-house and ended up as one of our bestsellers. We specialize in ebooks and know that these covers need to be clear and have large-sized fonts, but with enough detail to make the reader want to open up a special window to see what other elements are on the cover. First view of the cover shows the top element (the frost/snowflake) but further inspection reveals multiple layers of swirls and historic religious imagery that are all part of the story. Since it is the first of a series, second volumes will have similar imagery and typeset but in different colors. We think it works, readers obviously do and we hope you all think so too. Thanks for the opportunity!”


JF: Clearly, this is a very effective cover for an e-book. Again you can see that with a limited range of colors, strong typography that complements the art, and a clear graphic combine for a great effect. Nice job.


David Dalglish submitted Clash of Faiths in the Fiction category. Design by Peter Ortiz, saying “Pretty much all of my cover art has been done by Peter Ortiz, and if possible, I’d like him to get any and all credit from this cover. His artwork is at: http://standalone-complex.deviantart.com/ “


JF: Peter Ortiz’s art really makes this cover stand out. It’s perfect for the fantasy genre and terrifically atmospheric. I’m not sure whether the color effects on the title are worth the extra work for the viewer, but it’s hard to complain about a cover this good.


J. P. David submitted Double Take in the Fiction category. Design by J. P. David, saying “Double Take is a PI mystery with a sense of humor. The cover was designed with visuals that reflect the somewhat playful style, but also making it clear through text that it is a murder mystery featuring a private investigator. It was also designed to be brightly colored to attract attention and with easy to read fonts so that the small representation in websites would be easily read.”


JF: The author has put together a very effective cover and hit every one of his aims. My only comment would be that with a layout this good, you don’t really need all those type effects.


Austin Briggs submitted Five Dances with Death in the Fiction category. Design by Allen Mohr, saying “The idea was to design a cover for a historical fantasy set during the last days of the Aztec Empire.”

JF: A very attractive cover that shows simplicity doesn’t have to be unsophisticated. Everything about this works for me.


Michael Hart submitted For a Price in the Fiction category. Design by Michael Hart, saying “Hi Joel, Not sure if I’m allowed to submit my own work, but if so here you go. My friend, author Alanna Coca aka Olivia Brynn, recently became a fan of cinemagraphs and asked me if it would be possible to add animation to the covers on her website. In most cases I was modifying existing covers by other artists, but this is one of two that I designed for her from scratch. While I don’t believe I’d want to visit an ebook retailer and find hundreds of book covers flashing at me, I do think it’s fun to see authors step outside established norms and do something different with their books. I really enjoyed working on these with her.”


JF: Pretty cool effect!


David Gaughran submitted If You Go Into The Woods in the Fiction category. Design by Kate Gaughran, saying “Hi Joel, I’m really proud of this cover my sister designed for me. The title story in this small collection has a kind of twisted fairytale vibe. I suppose the genre is literary, but it could squeeze in as slipstream. The red cog for the bird’s eye is my favorite touch; it adds an air of menace which is entirely appropriate. Dave.”

JF: I can’t imagine a more artful, or more effective cover for this book of stories. Again, simplicity can achieve a beautiful balance of elements, and I think this cover would stop anyone for a second look.


Joseph Robert Lewis submitted Heirs of Mars in the Fiction category. Design by Joseph Robert Lewis, saying “Thanks for running this great blog with such solid advice on cover art!”

JF: Strong typography, an illustration that draws us in while telling a bit about the book, and only the right colors make this cover a clear winner.


Jon Guenther submitted Soul Runner: A Novel of High Adventure in the Fiction category. Design by Jon Guenther.


Daniel Koehler submitted Splitting Washington in the Fiction category. Design by Daniel koehler.


Silvano Williams submitted Spoon-fed Addiction in the Fiction category. Design by Silvano Williams.


JF: I’ve seen too many covers like this. I don’t know what Silvano was thinking, but whatever it was is a mystery to the rest of us, partly because we can’t really see the art or read the type.


JB. Woods submitted Stolen Birthright in the Fiction category. Design by Brian Platt aka JB. Woods, saying “This cover was designed by me and depicts scenes from within the book. The Scottish Castle shown is the one actually built with the proceeds of the crime described in the book. JB. Woods aka Brian Platt.”


David N Bending submitted The Absurd Secret Diary Of An Unborn Baby in the Fiction category. Design by Joleene Naylor, saying “A very humorous design by Joleene Naylor. She did a good job for my book. Thanks Joleene!!”


W. F. Owen submitted The Anonym in the Fiction category. Design by W. F. Owen.


JF: Okay, we know the human face is the strongest visual you can use, and the focus of the face is the eyes. Here that’s turned on its head, with negative results. The “yuck” factor is just too strong to overcome.


L.J. Sellers submitted The Arranger in the Fiction category. Design by Gwen Rhoads and L.J. Sellers, saying “THE ARRANGER is both futuristic and realistic. The maze in the background represents Lara, the protagonist, and the Gauntlet competition, while the eye represents Paul, the antagonist, and his ability to spy on, and manipulate, personal data.”


JF: Gwen and L.J. show once again that classy typography, a simple but informative image, and control of colors can yield some of the best e-book covers.


Elizabeth McCoy submitted The Bear Prince in the Fiction category. Design by Elizabeth McCoy/M.C.A. Hogarth, saying “This is a small collection of three short stories done in a “fairy tale” style. I picked the sketch from the four that Ms. Hogarth made, and added the words to the final product. The font doesn’t compress well on Amazon, but looks smoother on the Smashwords pages.”


Joseph Lallo submitted The Book of Deacon in the Fiction category. Design by Nick Deligaris, saying “Though the design isn’t revolutionary, it does a remarkable job of encapsulating both this, the first book of the trilogy, and the trilogy as a whole. The story follows Myranda (depicted on the cover) as she makes her way through an icy, barren setting and grows into a
powerful wizard.”


JF: Another beautiful image that needs better and stronger typography to really come alive.


hidden people submitted The Boy in the Sandwich in the Fiction category. Design by Fontana Design & Identity, saying “A children’s book, eight & upwards. 2011. Five interior illustrations. From hidden-people.net publishing.”


JF: I actually laughed out loud when I looked closely at this cover.


W. F. Owen submitted The Clone Trial in the Fiction category. Design by W. F. Owen.


JF: Close to great, needs a better font and it would be there.


Elliot Fisher-Smith submitted The Cosmic Corporation in the Fiction category. Design by Elliot B.J. Fisher-Smith, saying “This one I made using a combination of NASA images and public domain photographs. The image is meant to evoke a sense of mysticism and adventure.”


Dorte Hummelshoj Jakobsen submitted The Cosy Knave in the Fiction category. Design by Dorte Hummelshoj Jakobsen.


Christine Dougherty submitted The Devil Stood Up in the Fiction category. Design by Christine Dougherty.


ed submitted The Devil’s Auditor in the Fiction category. Design by ed casas.


Jason Kristopher submitted The Dying of the Light: End in the Fiction category. Design by Oliver Wetter, saying “I came up with the original idea for the cover and did the final typography, and found Oliver (fantasio.info) by chance. We collaborated back and forth over a number of weeks, and ended up with this awesome wraparound (see the full image). Oliver’s finished the second cover and is working on the third – now I just have to write the books!”


JF: A pretty cool zombie painting but typography that is much too weak for the subject matter and the cover layout.


D. Miles Martin submitted The Evolution of Mortality in the Fiction category. Design by D. Miles Martin, saying “I used PhotoShop to create a template for all my covers to give them a similar look and feel. The cover for The Evolution of Mortality uses a photo that has been re-colored to muted blues and greens.”


Rik Roots submitted The Gods in the Jungle in the Fiction category. Design by Rik Roots.


T. T. Thomas submitted The Guy in Frankie’s Hatbox in the Fiction category. Design by Patty G. Henderson, saying “Your site is most helpful. Thank you.”


JF: A gorgeous illustration, but the hand lettering simply doesn’t work because it makes the title too hard to read.


Norm Matthews submitted The Helios in the Fiction category. Design by Norm Matthews.


Amy Saunders submitted The Jester’s Apprentice in the Fiction category. Design by Amy Saunders.


Chris Northern submitted The Last King’s Amulet in the Fiction category. Design by Christopher Steininger.


JF: Steininger is a fabulous artist who gave this book a fantastic cover that’s terrifically appealing.


Kelly submitted The Light Rises in the Fiction category. Design by Raegan Millhollin, saying “This is the cover she designed for my first book. I supplied the images, she did the photoshop magics.”


Angelo Tsanatelis submitted The Living Sword Chronicles Book I: Origins in the Fiction category. Design by Blackveil.


JF: I like the mood this cover creates, but it doesn’t help readers when all the type elements are presented at the same size because it doesn’t tell us what’s most important.


Jodie Brownlee submitted The Magic Carpet in the Fiction category. Design by Jodie Brownlee, saying “Thanks you for giving my cover consideration in your book cover contest.”


Emily Devenport submitted The Night Shifters in the Fiction category. Design by Elinor Mavor, saying “Ellie is a wonderful artist, but she may be better known for her years editing AMAZING STORIES (before the magazine was sold and George Scithers took over as editor). Check out her blog at http://mavorarts.com.”


Jo-Anne Russell submitted The Nightmare Project in the Fiction category. Design by Jo-Anne Russell, saying “Thank you. :)
.”


Jeff Thomason submitted The Ohso Project: The Recruit in the Fiction category. Design by Jeff Thomason CE.


Gerard Whittaker submitted The Streets of Bucharest in the Fiction category. Design by Gerard Whittaker.


JF: I’ve been seeing a number of covers like this one that use avatars like the ones in Second Life, and I hope to see a lot fewer of them in the future.


Esther Jno-Charles submitted The Talking Palm: How the childhood storms of a young woman’s life remained hidden until a palm fruit started talking in the Fiction category. Design by Phil Cooper, saying “I would love my ebook cover considered and recognized as best cover design of the month. I believe that such an honor would definitely boost the value and appeal of my book. Thank you for this wonderful service. Esther Jno-Charles.”


JF: A pleasant cover but notice how the silhouette, the coconut and the title are all about the same emphasis. Something needs to stand out, to be the main focus, or the eye is left to wander.


Marlene Dotterer submitted The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder in the Fiction category. Design by Laura Shinn.


Christopher John Chater submitted The Traveler’s Companion in the Fiction category. Design by Christopher John Chater.


Walt Edinger submitted The Trial of Frankenstein in the Fiction category. Design by Brian Fowler, saying “A striking image of Frankenstein’s creation sitting in judgment. I love the aged paper and the gothic text.”


JF: I love the aged paper, too, but I wish the title was more visible.


Andy Conway submitted The Very Thought of You in the Fiction category. Design by Pete Bradbury, saying “Without having read the book and working from a three-line synopsis, Pete somehow intuited the importance of faded wallpaper and haunting old photos to this timeslip ghost story.”


DL Morrese submitted The Warden Threat in the Fiction category. Design by DL Morrese, saying “This cover was designed and created with no special software other than what was already installed on my computer. It is simple, with primary colors, and large images and text, which show up very well on ebook retailer sites.”


Val Edward Simone submitted The Wondrous Life of a Long-Ago Man in the Fiction category. Design by Val Edward Simone, saying “Thanks for the consideration.”


Paul Collis submitted The Wrinkly in the Fiction category. Design by Paul Collis, saying “I can’t draw, so I looked for appropriate illustrations that I could manipulate with Photoshop. The illustrations and photos are all from a microstock library. (iStockphoto.com).”


Lisa Deckert submitted They Called It Moosicide in the Fiction category. Design by Lisa Deckert, saying “YA Murder Mystery.”


JF: So far this book is tied with yesterday’s “Serial Quiller” for funniest title of the month.


Jennette Marie Powell submitted Time’s Enemy in the Fiction category. Design by Jennette Marie Powell, saying “Time travel romantic suspense, set in early 20th century America. Thanks for all the good info, Joel! I lurk, but enjoy reading your blog.”


JF: Lurk away, Jennette, especially when you turn out covers like this one. The challenge here is to combine the two images but still have one cover. The designer succeeds by careful control of the compositing and the colors used, which help to hold everything together. My suggestion would be to move the series branding away from the title and make it into more of a graphic treatment so it doesn’t look like another subtitle.


Mimi Barbour submitted Together Again in the Fiction category. Design by Nicole Martinez, saying “Always loved this cover. Such a beautiful woman.”


Kurt Sipolski submitted Too Early for Flowers: The Story of a Polio Mother in the Fiction category. Design by Self, saying “http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/11365 I believe the sweetness and simplicity of a young woman of another age speaks volume for the challenges presented to her inside the pages.”


JF: This lovely vintage photo would actually make for a nice cover with better layout and typography.


Lexi Revellian submitted Torbrek…and the Dragon Variation in the Fiction category. Design by Lexi Revellian, saying “Still getting to grips with Adobe Photoshop 7…”


Valerie Bowen submitted Tormented For the Sake of Amelia series in the Fiction category. Design by John Bouton (JNBounton@hotmail.com), saying “This cover has so many hidden meanings tied to the novel it’s hard to choose the best one. The darkness giving way to light up the peaceful cove of Camden Maine allows the reader at first glance to believe there this is always darkness before the dawn. It also symbolizes the torment of the main character.”


JF: Valerie is not alone in wanting to imbue her cover with symbolism from the book, but casual scanners probably won’t get it. It looks like the dark blended into the image is a bit much, and the typefaces are not good choices.


Luke Geraghty submitted Torrodil in the Fiction category. Design by Luke Geraghty.


Regan Black submitted Tracking Shadows in the Fiction category. Design by Karl Warren, saying “Tech isn’t my strong suit (sad but true) so please let me know if I managed to botch the cover url. Thanks!.”


Lexi Revellian submitted Trav Zander in the Fiction category. Design by Lexi Revellian, saying “I’m better than I was (you should see my first covers) but conscious I’m not there yet…”


Leonard W. Compton submitted Treadwell, A Novel of Alaska Territory in the Fiction category. Design by Leonard W. Compton, saying “This is a work of historical fiction.”


JF: By my count there are 12 distinct elements on this cover. It’s much more effective, especially for e-books, to stick to 2 or 3.


Olga Gladky Verro submitted Voices From The Past: …Russia–Soviet Union: 1917-1971 in the Fiction category. Design by James Alan Archer, saying “Designed as of information about the content of the book by the Editor Olga Gladky Verro.”


JF: Without any comment on the design of this box book, I think it’s time to get rid of “3D” images of e-books. Or at least leave them to the internet marketers.


Stephany Simmons submitted Voodoo Dues in the Fiction category. Design by Stephany Simmons, saying “Thank you!.”


KS Augustin submitted War Games in the Fiction category. Design by Valerie Tibbs.


JF: Covers like this one, with a limited palette, simple but strong graphic and clear typography that contributes to the overall look, are great solutions for e-book covers.


Colette Brown submitted Web Quest for a Heart of Gold in the Fiction category. Design by Margo Gracey Bramblewood Studio, saying “Futuristic Children’s Book!.”


Ellie Oberth submitted Who Murdered The Ghost? in the Fiction category. Design by Ellie Oberth, saying “Photo by Greg Daneault; designed by Ellie Oberth.”


Gretchen de la O submitted Wilson Mooney, Almost Eighteen in the Fiction category. Design by Eunice Ortegon.


JF: The importance of colors. A lovely illustration and some interesting typography are mostly negated by colors that suppress legibility instead of enhancing it.


Richard Gaines Graham submitted Wounded – A Novel Beyond Love and War in the Fiction category. Design by Richard Gaines Graham, saying “From a photograph by Justine Graham – Perfume River, Vietnam, 1998.”


Well, that wraps up the fiction covers for this month, tomorrow we’ll look at the nonfiction books. Did you have a favorite from these? Let me know what you think, I would be interested if anyone can pick the winners.

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    { 20 comments… read them below or add one }

    Robert Nagle October 18, 2011 at 11:05 am

    I love almost all of these covers, but the Wrinkly is really an effective cover. Also, If You go into the woods is also eye-catching and subtle and Voodoo Dues is dyamite (though the subject matter seems easy to do). It’s easy for genre fiction to have action-oriented covers,

    Reply

    Rasputin October 18, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Hey there. I don’t have any favorites but I wanted to say I love these posts. I’m going to be publishing some stuff in the coming months and it’s very helpful to see a bunch of covers in one place to see what works and what doesn’t.

    Reply

    Ros October 18, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Wow, you definitely saved the best till last! I liked The Wrinkly, too. It feels like a cover that shouldn’t work but somehow it does.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander October 18, 2011 at 11:52 am

    Yes, it’s all a plot to keep you readers coming back! Hey, I like the Wrinkly too, but I have reservations about the mix of styles and graphics. And the whole black & white vs. color thing isn’t consistent either. I love that the author was able to put this together, but for a similar look I think Double Take works much better.

    Reply

    Will Entrekin October 18, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    “And the whole black & white vs. color thing isn’t consistent either.”

    It’s not? I thought the left (younger, day trader) side was B&W, while the right (older, retired?) side was color.

    It’s terrific to see so many really great covers. Some could use improvement, but many knock it right out of the park. It’s getting more difficult to judge ebooks by their covers, and that’s a fine development for sure.

    Do you have any thoughts on the myriad authors who seem to be trying to evoke nebulous themes via the use of symbolism? Any examples there that stand out to you as effective? I admit, I’ve always sucked at symbolism.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander October 18, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Yes, but only half of the man’s figure in the center is black and white. Why isn’t that half of the face black and white?

    You’ve put your finger on a major problem, Will, and that is the authors of these books are too hung up on all the symbolism. That’s just lost on casual browsers (i.e. prospective buyers) who have no idea what’s inside the book. There’s nothing wrong with symbolism in cover design per se, but in many of these cases it becomes the most important part of the covers and that’s often a forumla for failure.

    Reply

    Jennette Marie Powell October 18, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Thanks for the comments, Joel! I didn’t think to put in the comments field that I worked as a graphic artist for over ten years before a career change. After being away for awhile, I’m enjoying getting back into it with the book covers. And that’s funny what you noted about my series title – it actually was the subtitle, but I changed it when I heard it was making the book harder to find in a search. Good luck selecting a winner – there are so many quality pieces here, I don’t think I could choose!

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander October 18, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    Your background comes through, since the cover is pretty sophisticated. I kept seeing the series tagline as wrapped around the Saturn glyph, but you’re the boss. Thanks for the additional info.

    Reply

    Michael October 18, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    Hi Joel,
    Thanks for posting my entry! Since the animation got lost in conversion to jpg, I hope you won’t me linking to the original gif here in the comments:

    http://oliviabrynn.com/bookspage/img/For-a-Price-Olivia-Brynn-cinecover.gif

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander October 18, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Hey Michael, I’ve swapped out the JPG for your animated GIF so people can appreciate it right here. Thanks for the link.

    Reply

    Ros October 19, 2011 at 1:32 am

    Cute animation!

    Reply

    Karen October 18, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Joel,
    Thanks so much for all of your cover posts. They come just at the time I am working on my book cover. There is so much more to it than I ever imagined. I like the Lexi Revellian book covers. The colors really grabbed me. I just bought Five Dances With Death, so that one worked for me.
    I enjoy your tweets!
    Karen

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander October 18, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    They have a jewel-like quality, don’t they. Glad to help, Karen.

    Reply

    Kyle October 18, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    Mr. Friedlander,

    I couldn’t find your contact form, so I’ll leave a comment here.

    Briefly, I wanted to say THANK YOU! Your website is such a tremendous help. I love typesetting and page layout, and am looking into it as a vocation, but couldn’t find any information readily available online (for free) about the nitty-gritty details. This is such an excellent resource.

    Kind Regards,
    Kyle

    Reply

    Kyle October 18, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    Also, I do have some questions for you…would it be too much for you to email me at your convenience? (Unless you’d rather I ask here, of course.) You should somehow have my email address as I’ve entered it on this form…

    Reply

    Camille October 19, 2011 at 8:51 am

    Hi Joel, thank you so much for posting these insightful articles on e-book covers. I am learning a lot.

    I attempted to enter an e-book cover of my own, but had trouble linking to a cover URL. Is it reasonable to link to an image of the cover on a website like Smashwords, or is there a better way to do it?

    Thanks!
    -Camille

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander October 19, 2011 at 8:57 am

    Sure, Camille, if that’s the best place to get the cover image, link to the Smashwords page and we’ll grab it there.

    Reply

    Georgi Abbott October 19, 2011 at 11:03 am

    I submitted my cover (Pickles The Parrot Speaks) a few weeks ago but didn’t notice it on any of your pages. I’m wondering if it didn’t make the cut or if i submitted it wrong and you didn’t receive it?

    Reply

    Janet Wong October 19, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    I loved so many of these covers, but I especially liked the way the art fit the tone of If You Go Into the Woods. I’m intrigued by what the author said about the crow’s red eye having an “air of menace,” which seems to fit his “twisted fairy tale vibe.” This entry makes me curious about the book! I also loved Blue Hotel, Voodoo Dues, and the beyond-the-cover rings in The Tycoon’s Inconvenient Wife. Thanks for hosting this monthly contest–really fascinating to see the art and read the comments!

    Reply

    Beth October 29, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Belated thank-yous! (Have guests; haven’t been on web much.) I think the best thing about this is being able to look at all the other covers and make notes to check out the books…

    Reply

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