e-Book Cover Design Awards, December 2011

by Joel Friedlander on January 15, 2012 · 31 comments

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

Here’s what we received:
44 covers in the Fiction category
9 covers in the Nonfiction category

Award Winners and Listing

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.

Now, without any further ado, here are the winners of this month’s e-Book Cover Design Award.

e-Book Cover Design Award Winner for December 2011 in Nonfiction

ebook cover design

Shereen Travels Cheap by Shereen Rayle

Despite the fact that this cover commits the usual sin of reducing a paperback cover to the point that the smaller type is hard to read, it’s impossible to resist. It perfectly expresses both the money-saving concept behind the book and a fun spirit of adventure that exemplifies the author’s idea of travel. And anyway, you don’t like pigs in sunglasses?

e-Book Cover Design Award Winner for December 2011 in Fiction


Synapse by D. August Baertlein, design by Siri Weber Feeney. “We considered depicting three faces, since the novel is told in three voices, or showing the main protagonist, Jake, with his brain-damaged twin brother. While either of these would have sufficed, we felt that the single skeptical, vulnerable (and reworked) face of Jake would be the most compelling. It would also show up best when viewed as a thumbnail image online.”

Super job on a cover designed specifically for an e-book. Feeney is a highly-skilled children’s book illustrator. The simplified but engaging design is exactly what’s called for and here it’s carried out beautifully.

Fiction Covers

Robert Chazz Chute submitted Self-Help for Stoners designed by Kit Foster.

JF: Designed as a paperback, this cover has survived the scaling down process quite well due to the strong graphic illustration. From the delightful typography to the vivid color choices, the cover gives some idea of the quirky nature of this book of short fiction.

Bridget McKenna submitted A Little Night Music – A Short Story in the Fiction category. Design by Bridget McKenna.

JF: I like the atmospherics, but there doesn’t seem to be a main focus because our eye is lead to a dark and vanishing horizon, and the type can be hard to read.

Niko Silvester submitted A Madness of Kentaurs in the Fiction category. Design by Nico.

C.S. Daley submitted A Very Zombie Holiday in the Fiction category. Design by Booknibbles.com, saying “A gory and humorous look inside the mind of a zombie dad who is doing everything he can to keep his family alive.”

JF: Love the zombie lettering, but way too much going on here for me. On the other hand, this was Jill’s favorite cover this month and she loved the way the cover told a story.

Jacqueline McDuffie submitted Betrayal of Love in the Fiction category. Design by Jonathan Johnson.

JF: Another case of trying to get too many things onto the cover. Readers don’t need to have a graphic symbol of everything, especially at this small size. Pick one.

AE Marling submitted Brood of Bones in the Fiction category, saying “To find the grandmaster artist Eva Soulu I had to trek through the frozen lands of Russia. The illustration was well worth the frostbite.”

JF: This incredible illustration would stop anyone. And the typography is right in snyc with the genre. Just beautiful.

Russe submitted Chill Run in the Fiction category. Design by Carol Webb.

JF: An effective cover for this genre, but even here the two overlapping silhouettes create a bit of visual confusion with no gain in information.

Jonni Anderson submitted Cranwold in the Fiction category. Design by Jonni Anderson.

Andrea Parnell submitted Dark Splendor in the Fiction category. Design by Frauke Spanuth, Croco Designs, saying “This is my first eBook cover and is a departure from the traditional Gothic Romance cover of the print edition. Maybe it’s a hybrid as I’m learning what matters in an e-cover.”

JF: Here’s a great illustration but not sure I get the typography. If it was specifically designed for the e-book cover, why include type you can’t read at this size?

Darlene Jones submitted EMBATTLED in the Fiction category. Design by Cheryl Perez, saying “I had the basic idea and Cheryl worked magic with it. Fits my story perfectly.”

Jordan Castillo Price submitted Fire Thief in the Fiction category. Design by Jordan Castillo Price, saying “I was a visual artist before I was a writer. The ability to create my own covers was a key factor in my decision to begin self-publishing.”

JF: The author’s training shows in this strong cover that communicates graphically with the reader. I’d watch out for those very complex type and lettering styles and their legibility.

Shelly Thacker submitted Forever His in the Fiction category. Design by Kim Killion, Hot DAMN! Design, saying “Designer Kim Killion created a whole new look for my Stolen Brides series. My books appeal to both romance readers and fantasy readers, so I asked for colorful, sexy covers that would appeal to fans of both genres. I love the “branding” Kim created and plan to continue using it on all my upcoming releases.”

JF: Okay, well, Kim Killion knows what romance and fantasy readers want as much as anyone and Kim’s covers are amazing. Maybe it’s just me, but this concept makes me queasy. The combination of the buildings at the top and the truncated lovers is jarring. But what do I know? They’ll probably sell like crazy. (see also “His Forbidden Touch” below).

Kevin Aldrich submitted Found in the Fiction category. Design by Kevin Aldrich, saying “The cover photo by Jeff Vaillancourt not only sets the perfect mood for the novelette, a fantasy story about a female assassin and her human prey, but it inspired the story itself.”

JF: An arresting image used to good effect.

Shelly Thacker submitted His Forbidden Touch in the Fiction category. Design by Kim Killion, Hot DAMN! Design, saying “Designer Kim Killion created a whole new look for my Stolen Brides series. I asked for colorful, sexy covers that would appeal to fans of both romance novels and “Game of Thrones.” I love the branding Kim created and plan to continue using it on all my upcoming releases.”

Gabrielle Bowen submitted Insight, Soul Series Volume 1 in the Fiction category. Design by Dejan Davidovic.

JF: Here’s another cover that, despite its strengths, really creeped me out. I don’t want anybody’s hands on my eyeballs, do you?

Bridget McKenna submitted Kidnapped by Aliens! in the Fiction category. Design by Bridget McKenna.

J.R. Rogers submitted Leopold’s Assassin in the Fiction category. Design by the author and Dave Fymbo.

JF: Simple covers like this are very good for e-books, but here the lack of contrast between the title and the background diminishes its effectiveness.

Andy Conway submitted Lovers in Paris in the Fiction category. Design by Ian Dodds, saying “Illustrator Ian Dodds re-worked this book’s original cover to bring out its indie-multi-strand-romcom feel. His brief was to get across the right tone of a group of couples finding love on New Year’s Eve in Paris.”

JF: Another strong cover from the author, a previous winner here.

Adrastus Rood submitted Manly Hero in the Fiction category. Design by Tommy Panigot, saying ” Adrastus Rood is the pen name of writing duo Petra & Adam. Petra developed the cover’s concept, then Tommy Panigot of notheftdom.com (who was awesome to work with) designed the cover, building it out of hand-colored, hand-cut paper. The final image is a photo of the hand-built cover.”

JF: Terrific job by all concerned. Beautifully conceived and executed, clearly one of the best designs here this month.

Meira Pentermann submitted Nine-Tenths in the Fiction category. Design by Gale Haut, saying “Novel by Meira Pentermann. Cover design by Gale Haut sf.freelance@gmail.com.”

JF: In e-book covers, meaningful simplicity works, and here you can see why.

Andrew H. Black submitted Oh What a Lucky Man in the Fiction category. Design by Andrew H. Black.

Tracey Garvis-Graves submitted On the Island in the Fiction category. Design by Penne Heede Pojar.

Patrick Chiles submitted Perigee in the Fiction category. Design by JT Lindroos.

JF: Looks intriguing, and the cover helps sell the book.

Erica Ferencik submitted Repeaters in the Fiction category. Design by Judy Blomquist.

JF: This is a beautiful paperback cover that simply did not survive the reduction to this size.

Randy Nargi submitted Shadow of the Lizard in the Fiction category. Design by Randy Nargi, saying “SHADOW OF THE LIZARD is a serial novel in the sci-fi/pulp tradition, but with modern sensibilities and technology. For this reason, stayed clear of a retro look for the design. The novel is being released in four parts; each with a different cover. Part 2 is here: http://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Lizard-First-Enchantment-ebook/dp/B006JAG9S2″

JF: Nicely done. Good example of type effects that enhance the look of the cover, a limited palette, strong letterforms and a clear series branding. Excellent.

I.G. Frederick submitted Shattered in the Fiction category. Design by Nyla Alisia of Pussy Cat Press http://pussycatpress.com/, saying “I recovered my rights to this book in September and engaged Nyla Alisia of Pussy Cat Press (http://pussycatpress.com/) to create a new cover for its re-release. The publisher’s original cover did nothing for the book, and left those unaware of the meaning of the symbol used scratching their heads. Nyla’s cover really captures the concept and tone.”

JF: Must be something in the air. This cover joins the others with that “creepy” element. I mean, sharp jagged glass and naked bodies? Eeek.

Sara Kay Jordan submitted Snatching Genius in the Fiction category. Design by Nathan Hornby.

JF: Strong graphics but suffering a bit from the white background fade.

C.G. Powell submitted Spell Checked in the Fiction category. Design by Christine Powell.

Jessica McBrayer submitted Stained in the Fiction category. Design by Marik Berghs.

JF: A strong illustration with type that’s hard to make out or unreadable.

Shana Norris submitted Surfacing in the Fiction category. Design by Shana Norris.

JF: Compare this to “Stained” immediately above. Exactly the same elements, but here they are easy to read and pull us in.

Joseph Robert Lewis submitted The Bound Soul in the Fiction category. Design by Max Davenport, saying “Max is a very talented artist who did a great job bringing my characters to life.”

Karen L. Abrahamson submitted The Cartographer’s Daughter in the Fiction category. Design by Karen L. Abrahamson.

Victoria Griesdoorn submitted The City of Hell Chronicles, Vol. I in the Fiction category. Design by Colin Barnes, the editor.

JF: Well, it is pretty hellish, but didn’t you want your name on it?

Martin Turnbull submitted The Garden on Sunset in the Fiction category. Design by Dan Yeager, Nu-Image Design, saying “My novel is set at the Garden of Allah hotel on Sunset Blvd during the late 20s/early 30s, so I wanted a sepia-toned cover that invited readers to come explore the Garden. I think Dan Yeager did a masterful job with his design.”

JF: A beautiful and atmospheric cover that would work well at a larger size. Also there’s a little confusion at this size from the four distinct lines of type that band the cover.

Tim Hadleigh submitted The Glass Catcher in the Fiction category. Design by Tim Hadleigh/Jenny Hawkins, saying “I wanted a crisp and simplistic imagery. The monochrome look suggests a dark story.”

JF: Yes it does. Neat and tidy.

Nina Bruhns submitted The Renegade’s Woman in the Fiction category. Design by Nina Bruhns, saying “Keep up the great work Joel! Love your blog and look forward to the contest results every month. Lots of great cover art and even better comments :D.”

JF: Wow. You can feel the heat coming off this cover. Notice here a band is used to highlight a selling point as it was used earlier to brand a series. This is very effective on e-books.

Kit Foster submitted The Second Coming in the Fiction category. Design by Kit Foster.

JF: Pow. Great positioning, and so much is communicated with just a few simple graphics. Great stuff.

Jennie Coughlin submitted Thrown OUt: Stories from Exeter in the Fiction category. Design by Jennie Coughlin, saying “Thrown Out is a collection of linked short stories set in the same small Massachusetts town, so I was trying to capture that small-town feel in the cover.”

John Perich submitted Too Close to Miss in the Fiction category. Design by Ryan Sawyer.

JF: Strong typography can’t survive a confusing and busy background.

Christine Ticali submitted Unlovable in the Fiction category. Design by Christine Ticali.

JF: And one more for the “huh?” pile. Am I looking at an awesome wedgie? What exactly is going on here? Artistic but incomprehensible.

Bethe Lee Moulton submitted Until Brazil in the Fiction category. Design by The Book Designers, saying “I wish to acknowledge the cover artist, Ian Shimkoviak, who captured the duality and multi-faceted nature of the story. This cover reproduces well in miniature, in black and white, and looks good on the various e-reading devices. The response to its use in promotional materials has been fantastic.”

JF: I’m a fan of Ian Shimkoviak and The Book Designers and this cover shows why. However, I’m not much of a fan of type you can’t read. It also shows one of the reasons I started this competition. At some point designers of Ian’s stature will start to look at the e-book not just as a reduction of the print book cover, but as an opportunity to create a variant of the cover to represent the e-book in the context within which it’s viewed. This is part of the evolution of e-books from niche curiousity to mainstream, mass-consumed objects. It’s the future of one branch of book publishing and some designers will wake up to it soon enough. See: Print and e-book Covers: A Matter of Resolutions

Nic Silver submitted Vixen in the Fiction category. Design by Nico, saying “I’ve decided I like the idea of two separate cover versions–a simpler one for the e-book, and one with smaller (and more) text for the print book.”

JF: Great strategy, but despite an attractive piece of artwork, the type on this cover is suffering legibility problems.

Camille Picott submitted Warming Demon in the Fiction category. Design by Joey Manfre, saying “The artist and I tried to achieve and blend of masculine and femanine for this cover. The central image (the claw) is very powerful and masculine. Femininity was added with the fine lines and fonts.”

Nonfiction Covers

Blaine Moore submitted 2012 Runners Almanac: a running journal that will motivate you,
educate you and make you laugh 366 days of the year
in the Nonfiction category. Design by Ian Parlin.

JF: Another example where a well-designed and attractive print book cover—in this case for a square book—could have easily been adapted and simplified for e-book use.

Russell Phillips submitted A Fleet in Being: The Austro-Hungarian Navy of WWI in the Nonfiction category. Design by Russell Phillips, saying “The image on the cover is from a contemporary postcard.”

Sweta Srivastava Vikram submitted Beyond the Scent of Sorrow in the Nonfiction category. Design by Book Image Designs.

Joanne Kaattari submitted Christmas Sauna Traditions in the Nonfiction category. Design by Joanne Kaattari, saying “Thanks for your helpful blog and Twitter feed!”

Holli Kenley submitted Cyber Bullying No More in the Nonfiction category. Design by Book Image Designs.

JF: There are three covers here from this designer, and all are effective print book covers. This seems the best of the three to me

Juergen submitted For 91 Days in the Nonfiction category. Design by Michael Powell, saying “It’s simple but it sticks out.”

Elizabeth Castro submitted From InDesign CS 5.5 to EPUB and Kindle in the Nonfiction category. Design by Andreu Cabré, saying “The dart and dartboard images were created entirely with 3D modeling software Blender and Cheetah 3D. Text and the other cover image were added in InDesign.”

JF: Amazing artwork but the cover doesn’t really come together for me. Compare to Liz’s E-PUB Straight to the Point, an earlier title.

Steven Lewis submitted Hot Silver – Riding the Indian Pacific in the Nonfiction category. Design by Andrew Brown of Design for Writers, saying “”Hot Silver” aims to be a cross between Paul Theroux and Bill Bryson. It’s a humourous book about a train journey whose most iconic feature is that it passes across the dusty centre of Australia. I wanted a cover that suggested the book was fun and evoked its place. I believe Andrew brought out the fun side and put the Indian Pacific in its geographical context beautifully. The old-world western style of the book translates fantastically to the mood of the Indian Pacific and the Australian outback.”

JF: And very nicely done. The cover gives us all the information we might need with a welcome note of whimsy.

Christine Stark submitted Nickels: A Tale of Dissociation in the Nonfiction category. Design by Book Image Designs.

Nancy Bartlett submitted Panic In Any Other Language in the Nonfiction category. Design by Mari Hotchkiss, saying “Hi Joel, What a great feature. I enjoy learning from your comments. I’ve submitted the cover of my first ebook, published with Kindle last spring. It’s a humor collection of three essays about travel in Italy. I came up with the basic concept and my daughter put her Art degree to good use doing the design. I’m about to publish the third of these collections, and will use your comments to improve that cover. Thanks for this opportunity.”

JF: Definitely one of my favorites. I like the simplicity without sacrificing style. But I do wish there was more indication that this is a humorous book, and what looks like a drop of blood confuses the positioning even more.

Jay Tucker submitted The Whole Youth Worker in the Nonfiction category. Design by D.E. West/Book Image Designs.

JF: More great covers from Book Image Designs although their very strong graphics would work even better if the problem with the tiny type was addressed.

Maggie Wahls submitted Who Can I Trust? in the Nonfiction category. Design by Book Image Designs.

How to Take Part in the E-book Cover Design Awards

Well, that’s it for this month. I hope you found it interesting, and let other people interested in self-publishing know about the Awards. —Use the share buttons below to Tweet it, Share it on Facebook, Plus-1 it on Google+, Link to it! The next issue is February 12, 2012 and the deadline for submissions will be January 31, 2012. Don’t miss it! Here are all the links you’ll need:

The original announcement post
E-book Cover Design Awards web page
Submit your article here
Follow @JFBookman on Twitter for news about the E-book Cover Design Awards
Subscribe to The Book Designer Blog

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    { 18 comments… read them below or add one }

    Tim Hadleigh February 8, 2012 at 3:56 am

    Hi, love what you are doing here but l cannot see where l can look up the winners?


    Joel Friedlander February 8, 2012 at 9:44 am

    Tim, the winners for this month’s contest are at the beginning of this post, along with a link to the main page that lists all the monthly contests so far. Here it is again:

    Monthly eBook Cover Design Awards


    Shereen January 23, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    Thanks so much for picking Shereen Travels Cheap as this month’s winner! I’m so honored.


    Joel Friedlander January 23, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Wear your winner’s badge with pride, Shereen, you did a lovely job and thanks for entering.


    Gale January 20, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    I’m glad you found meaningful simplicity in my first cover design. That was nice to read. Thank you.


    Clay January 17, 2012 at 1:54 pm


    As a print designer, I have to say that book cover design should be left to professionals. My problem with the majority of the covers is the mishandling of type. Most of the covers suffer from wrong font choice (either too bold, too light, or wrong style), poor balance in type size in relation to the background, too much type, or the backgrounds are much, much too busy.

    The same thinking that goes into not letting a football coach perform cardiac surgery, should be applied in choosing an experienced book cover designer over the next door neighbor who owns a copy of Adobe’s Creative Suite.

    Thanks for raising the bar by educating. Knowledge is power.


    Joel Friedlander January 17, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    Thanks, Clay, we are on exactly the same point.


    Siri Weber Feeney January 17, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Wow! Thank you! This is unexpected and wonderful.

    D. August Baertlein is such a gifted writer and SYNAPSE is such a gripping story, I wanted the cover to stare out at the viewer like the main character would — with a challenge.

    We sort of did the designing “backwards” from what may still be the norm. We designed the cover for an eBook, first, keeping in mind we might publish it as a paperback, later. So hopefully that’s what will work, because we’re doing the new cover from the (high res) eBook file, now.

    The thought process was, “if it shows up well as an eBook, it will show up well on a shelf from across the room.”



    Joel Friedlander January 17, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Thanks for the additional detail, Siri, it was a pleasure to give you the award.


    D. August Baertlein January 17, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    I can’t thank Siri enough for working with me on the Synapse cover. She is a talented professional artist, but took the time to ask my opinion while also giving the reasons for hers. Obviously, she has fabulous insight!

    And thanks, Joel, for doing this. I studied some previous winners and your comments when working with Siri on my cover. You are a great resource!

    ~Dawn (D. August)


    George Angus January 16, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Once again, my favorite stuff over here, Joel.

    I did the uploading of an e-book at Amazon for a client/friend of mine and I think the cover is pretty amazing. I’m going to encourage him to submit the cover here.



    Lois D. Brown January 15, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    Hi Joel. These are so much fun to look at, especially with your comments.

    Quick question, I tried to submit a cover for the contest near the end of Dec. It didn’t show up here, so either I did it wrong or perhaps it will be in January. Should I hold off until Jan. or resubmit? (Above all I don’t want to look like I’m harassing you every month with the same cover.)



    Joel Friedlander January 16, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Lois, not sure why you’re having a problem but go ahead and send your information (what’s on the submission form) in an email to marin.bookworks@gmail.com and we’ll get it sorted out for next month’s edition.


    David Gaughran January 15, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    Oh, I love that Brood of Bones one…


    Joel Friedlander January 15, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    I’m with you there, it was a tough choice.


    Nancy M. Popovich January 15, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    I love seeing these book covers and the reasons that make them good, better and best. Thanks!


    Bill Cunningham January 15, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Re: FOUND – while I understand it’s an arresting image, it’s also an image of Harley Quinn a character from the Batman Animated Series.

    See below:


    I would never recommend using someone else’s trademarked and copyrighted character.


    Bridget McKenna January 15, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Thanks, Joel, for another great chapter in our continuing education in cover design!


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