Welcome to this edition of the e-Book Cover Design Awards. This edition is for submissions during November, 2011.
Here’s what we received:
84 covers in the Fiction category
7 covers in the Nonfiction category
Just seven? Since we started these awards there’s been a huge difference between the large number of fiction covers submitted and the small number of nonfiction covers. Are there that many more fiction books being published? Or some other reason?
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 November 2011 in Nonfiction
Let’s Get Digital: How To Self-Publish And Why You Should by David Gaughran, design by Kate Gaughran. “Writing/publishing “how to” e-book covers are often awful and/or use the same elements (typewriter/laptop/kindle). We wanted something different. The aim was to recreate the feel of samizdat, like this was forbidden knowledge being passed around from hand to hand.”
The cover succeeds brilliantly, and also manages to communicate some of the audacity of revolutionary publications. With confident and emphatic typography, this cover is something of a beacon for the indie authors it aims to serve.
e-Book Cover Design Award Winner for November 2011 in Fiction
Daniel Will Harris is an early desktop publishing pioneer, an award-winning designer, author, and overall creative dynamo and one of the first inhabitants of ye olde world wide web. Here he serves up a delicious cover that perfectly combines this thriller’s blend of science and ancient mythology. It’s also worth noting that Will Harris understands that simplicity is your friend when dealing with images on screen, and has put together an image with just enough detail to be interesting but not enough to be distracting. Learn.
David Barron submitted A Future Darkly in the Fiction category. Design by David Barron, saying “This cover for a collection of dark SF stories was inspired by the hardcover design of HULL ZERO THREE (Greg Bear), but then I took it in my own direction.”
Michael L. Martin Jr. submitted Burn In Hades in the Fiction category. Design by M. S. Corely.
JF: Outstanding. Perfectly planned for an e-book cover, the simple but strong graphics and limited palette make the most of this format. Everything in this illustration is implied, from the gun on the man’s hip to the mysterious floating feathers. The strong shape of the background focuses attention right on the central figure. An assured and effective e-book cover.
Phoenix Sullivan submitted A Vision of Sugarplums in the Fiction category. Design by Phoenix Sullivan, saying “We’re a small consortium of authors sharing resources. Some covers we do “in-house” and others we outsource. Since this book is a planned freebie for the season, this was an obvious in-house choice. The stock image (a perfect match for the content) just needed to be given a holiday flair with the one “rule” being that this bestselling author’s name be larger than the title.”
JF: Good idea, but the execution comes up short, since the title is both difficult to read and also obscures the woman’s face.
Deb Dorchak submitted An Extraordinarily Ordinary Life in the Fiction category. Design by Deb Dorchak, Blue Sun Stdio, saying “When Alex came to us he wanted his book cover to reflect a story that was one part Bewitched, one part Alice in Wonderland, and one part Wizards of Waverly Place. In a world where so many YA covers are dark and gloomy, we understood the need for a cover that was fun and bright and I think we achieved that.”
JF: I love the delicacy and humor in this cover, Deb, and I can see how challenging it is to find the spot where you’re not giving up too much in readability.
DG Sandru submitted Arboregal, the Lorn Tree in the Fiction category. Design by DG Sandru/CreateSpace, saying “Art for front cover by DG Sandru.”
JF: Another example that shows a simple combination of art and good typography can create a very effective e-book cover.
Tori Scott submitted Blame it on Texas in the Fiction category. Design by Tony Payne.
JF: Can we blame the dog pasted into the photo on Texas too? I realize it’s hard to find the photo of the cowboy and the dog together, but this isn’t the best solution.
Rodney Evans submitted Case of the Plucked Chicken in the Fiction category. Design by Evans, Wein & Parrott, saying “The Sheriff has a tiny little problem on his hands.”
JF: Another strong entry in this series, but the type looks like it has been reduced from a print cover to the point of illegibility.
Niki Savage submitted Crossfire in the Fiction category. Design by Niki Savage, saying “This is perhaps not the kind of cover one would expect for an action romance, but fire is a strong subject throughout, which is why I thought it would be appropriate for the cover. I tried to keep the cover simple, so that even at a small size it pops beautifully. It was important to me to let the fire be, and so I made sure that the titles didn’t interfere with the picture, but rather compliment it. You’ll notice the top and bottom of the flames look similiar, creating an inkblot effect, which I also think makes it more interesting. I have carried this theme through to my blog also, and I like the new look. Thanks for allowing me a chance to submit an entry.”
JF: The cover is arresting, but if it doesn’t signal that it’s a romance, it’s difficult to say how successful it is.
Suz submitted Eve Eden vs. the Zombie Horde in the Fiction category. Design by Steven Novak, saying “I wanted a cover to reflect a teen comedy-horror style. That’s what I got from Steven Novak when he designed this cover for me. It’s brilliant the way it’s edgy, emo, and yet still girly with Eve in her pink dress on the cover. It really shows Eve’s zombie ass-kicking personality with the zombie pile under her feet! What do you think? :)”
JF: Nice artwork, but it’s hard to tell that’s a pile of zombies, since the title is superimposed over a good deal of it. The other problem is the dark title disappearing into the dark area of the illustration and both at the very bottom of the cover. This is quite artful, but there’s room to make it even better for the casual browser.
vance lindahl submitted Everything All At Once in the Fiction category. Design by Rebecca Lindahl.
JF: Another cover in which simplicity of the ingredients is no barrier to a sophisticated effect. Nice.
James Wintermote submitted Failing Mr. Fisher in the Fiction category. Design by James Wintermote, saying “The design of the cover was my own, but the images were taken from the galleries at Authorhouse publishing.”
C. Leigh Purtill submitted Fat Girls in L.A. (Book 1) in the Fiction category. Design by Maurice Jordan, saying “Hey, just wanted to mention that there are even shorter url’s in all titles found in the right column where it says share, right next to the facebook and twitter icon, hit the share link or little envelope and a box will pop up with the books permalink, I believe each book has it’s own, mine is http://amzn.com/B006C96FQG. For your book “self pub comp” it’s http://amzn.com/B004TSCZTS Pretty cool huh? Hope it helps you in the future. Anyway, this is the first book in the Fat Girls series, they are all going to be designed by the same designer and have similar look and feel. Thanks for having this contest and for your cool website.”
JF: This cover has so many great things going for it, but I’d love to see the girl’s hair NOT be exactly the same color as the title. And the use of three different styles for the three type elements distracts from the great artwork and nifty title typography.
Peter Hellinger submitted Feuergott in the Fiction category. Design by Peter Hellinger, saying “The title is in German language, translated to english it means “God of fire.”
JF: Very atmospheric, not sure how it will survive further reduction, though.
Jamie Sedgwick submitted Hank Mossberg, Private Ogre Book One: Murder in the Boughs in the Fiction category. Design by Jamie Sedgwick.
JF: Demonstrates how, if you get the colors wrong, the whole cover suffers.
K. W. Jeter submitted Kim Oh 3: Real Dangerous People in the Fiction category. Design by K. W. Jeter, saying “Author-designed cover for third book in a new thriller series.”
JF: Cool! I like them all.
David Forbes submitted Life Line in the Fiction category. Design by David Forbes and Kelly Forbes.
JF: I did a double-take when I saw this cover, because I assumed it was a mis-categorized business book. The cover is quite well done, but I wonder about confusion in the books’ positioning. Is it a romantic thriller, maybe a financial thriller? Hard to tell.
Frankie Robertson submitted Lightbringer in the Fiction category. Design by Kim Killion at Hot Damn Designs.
JF: The multi-talented Kim Killion shows again her mastery of the genre. This looks like it was reduced from the print cover.
Lori L. Lake submitted Like Lovers Do in the Fiction category. Design by Lori L. Lake, saying “Art Direction: Lori L. Lake Cover Creation: Donna Pawlowski.”
JF: So, did you notice how your eyes traveled when you looked at this cover? The effect, which leads you exactly where the designer wants you to go, is somewhat undone by weak typography and a rough piece of art.
Thomas Pluck submitted Lost Children: A Charity Anthology in the Fiction category. Design by Sarah Bennett Pluck, saying “Photo by Danielle Tunstall, used with permission.”
JF: Readers might like to compare this cover to the October eBook Cover Design Award winner Velvet Dogma by Weston Ochse, which also uses a photo by Tunstall. It’s an interesting and counter-intuitive choice for this charity publication. I like the strength of the cover but I’ll admit that I’m getting pretty tired of the Cracked font. (All the royalties from this book are being donated to charity. To read the story behind it, check out the Lost Children website.)
Victor Domingos submitted Manual de Trigonometria Aplicada in the Fiction category. Design by Victor Domingos, saying “This is a short novel, but the title means “Handbook of Applied Trigonometry”, wich has to do with the life story and the emotional memories of an engineer. The foto in the background was taken at a public lift or elevator, in Lisbon, and was intentionally blurred to let the text stand out a bit and to create a diffuse climate that matches the book’s content. I hope it won’t be the worst ebook cover in this context, but it’s ok if you think so 🙂 I will surelly learn something from your comments!.”
Carol E Wyer submitted Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines in the Fiction category. Design by Judy Bullard.
JF: I don’t know, but it seems to me if you call your book “Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines” then your art really ought to show some miniskirts or a human face. Maybe that’s just me?
WR Films Entertainment Group, Inc. submitted MORGAN KANE – El Gringo in the Fiction category. Design by , saying “Book number 1 in a series of 83 books by author Louis Masterson. Marshal Kane entered a bar in Kansas City and stepped into the past – where the old Mexican who drew a knife on him, had been his best friend, teacher and destroyer… Fifteen years ago… When Morgan Kane had been in trouble, he’d been found carrying gold by the Policia in Casas Grandes and there was no way he could prove it wasn’t stolen money! But the police chief had a proposition – freedom for Kane if he found and killed a certain bandit named Coyote…”
WR Films Entertainment Group, Inc. submitted MORGAN KANE – El Gringo’s Revenge in the Fiction category. Design by , saying “Book number 2 in a series of 83 books by author Louis Masterson. Three bandidos rode together towards Sonora and the “Fiesta of Death” – each with his own secret – to wipe out the hated white ranch owner who dishonored and exploited the Mexicans. Morgan Kane, alias EL GRINGO, rode with Coyote, the man who called him “son” and had made him the deadliest killer in Mexico. But Kane found he was a pawn in a lethal game where honor was the stake and revenge the prize. And his reward from the man he trusted was to scar his life….”
JF: Doesn’t this look like a Clint Eastwood film?
WR Films Entertainment Group, Inc. submitted MORGAN KANE – Without Mercy in the Fiction category. Design by , saying “Book number 3 in a series of 83 books by author Louis Masterson.”
JF: These books, from the 1970s and 1980s are being revived and if you think these covers look like tiny reductions of movie posters it may be because they are being published by a film company. They are all very atmospheric but have readability issues.
J. Daniel Sawyer submitted Predestination (and Other Games of Chance) in the Fiction category. Design by J. Daniel Sawyer, saying “The model and the cards were shot in my home studio, booth laid on a crumpled purple sheet on the ground, lit by a single 500w bulb. The moon is NASA stock, and the rest was accomplished using shadow maps and masking in GIMP.”
JF: A pretty impressive effort for a DIY cover. This cover, originally done for a print edition, doesn’t reduce too well, and particularly in the e-book version would have benefitted from stronger title typography. Nicely done.
Tina Boscha submitted River in the Sea in the Fiction category. Design by Kai Persons, saying “This cover was one of several Kai, my designer, sent to me as a mock-up. I was blown away by this one, but also by the fact that he gave me several to choose from and that they all somehow evoked the era and the mood of the book. But this one was always my favorite, as it contains a pic of my mom as a teenager, who is the protagonist of my book.”
JF: Some of the delicacy and beauty of this cover is lost in the reduction. The blurb at the bottom could have been removed entirely.
Stacy Mantle submitted Shepherd’s Moon in the Fiction category. Design by Jennifer Allen.
JF: A good example of artwork that’s been combined in an effective and creative way. Just think how strong this cover would have been with typography that really stood out.
Nina Bruhns submitted Slave To Love in the Fiction category. Design by Nina Bruhns, saying “Great idea Joel! I love scrolling through all the covers, and especially like reading your comments. 😀 thanks!.”
JF: Well, I love your cover, Nina. Here another designer plays with our eye-path, leading us to the point of maximum effect. The fetish-y artwork and stylish typography combine to make a great-looking e-book cover.
Luis Ortiz submitted Steampunk Prime in the Fiction category. Design by Luis Ortiz, saying “The modern day steampunk genre is a reinvention of the past through the eyes of its inventors and adventurers, but this collection is from real Victorians and Edwardians who saw the future potential of science and all its daring possibilities for progress and disasters. Edited by Mike Ashey, with a foreword by Paul di Fillipo and 16 New illustrations by Luis Ortiz.”
JF: Beautiful illustration combined with tasteful typography will produce a winner every time, although I’m not fond of the way the light title disappears a bit into the light background.
Jake Needham submitted The Big Mango in the Fiction category. Design by OpalWorks Asia.
JF: Same designer as above. Like many of the covers this month, these print book conversions would have been stronger if the blurbs, now unreadable, had simply been removed.
Karen Wickham submitted The Book of Love in the Fiction category. Design by Karen Wickham, saying “I would have preferred the author name to be larger, but the client wanted it as you see it. They didn’t want to use a stereotypical “love” image or have it appear too feminine or masculine.”
Andrew Burt submitted The Exiles Trilogy by Ben Bova in the Fiction category. Design by Clay Hagebusch, saying “We’re publishing a bunch of Ben Bova’s ebooks. Clay and I (the publisher) worked back and forth on this one for ages, and I think it turned out spectacular. Sales on Amazon have also been higher for this title than any of the others we’ve done, so who knows, it could be the cover that done it! :).”
JF: The designer is an experienced graphic designer and animator, and this powerful and evocative cover is the result.
Stephen Knight submitted The Gathering Dead in the Fiction category. Design by Jared Rackler, saying “Military on zombie action! Always good.”
JF: Can’t go wrong with zombies! Nice strong colors and an appropriate use of grunge typography.
Pamela Hegarty submitted The Seventh Stone in the Fiction category. Design by Pamela Hegarty, saying “The Seventh Stone is an Indiana Jones meets Da Vinci Code thriller. In it, a cat’s eye emerald is crucial to restoring a Biblical artifact that connects man with God. On the cover, a cat’s eye emerald is superimposed on a NASA image of the “Eye of God” nebula. Thanks. I love looking at the creative covers every month.”
Andy Conway submitted The Striker’s Fear of the Open Goal in the Fiction category. Design by Pete Bradbury, saying “This was an attempt to relay a complicated premise entirely through typography. It’s a novel about a man whose 35 years of failure as a human being are linked to the 35 years English soccer team Manchester City have not won a trophy. We used the club’s colours of sky blue, white and maroon to make it instantly recognisable and made the numbers 35 and 00 prominent. The fans of City were taunted by a rolling ticker banner counting the years of their failure by their more successful rivals Man Utd for many years. So it was a major news story when City won the FA Cup last year and paraded an identical banner proudly reset to 00 years. A complicated premise, but one that is given to the reader in a single visual, using typography. Anyone familiar with English soccer would recognise immediately what the book is about, so it sells its concept in a simple but effective way.”
JF: The author/designer was a winner here in October. Thanks for explaining it because nobody else would have a clue what it’s about.
Camille LaGuire submitted The Wife of Freedom in the Fiction category. Design by Camille LaGuire, saying “This book is very hard to categorize — a melodrama in a made-up world based on pop-culture and folklore versions of the American Revolution. I played with many different concepts before I settled on this one — which was inspired by WPA posters. It brings a simplicity that reflects the story, and also combines historical and anachronistic touches.”
JF: I think this is very successful, Camille, it really worked and the visual style is perfectly matched by the funky type.
L.J. Sellers submitted Thrilled to Death in the Fiction category. Design by Gwen Rhoads and L.J. Sellers, saying “This is my favorite cover in my Detective Jackson series. I knew the image was perfect for the story the moment I saw it.”
Andy Conway submitted Touchstone (1. The Sins of the Fathers) in the Fiction category. Design by Pete Bradbury, saying “This is the first part of a teenage time travel adventure series. We wanted to use the image of the hand against the title and subtitle and keep it as a logo across the series, while finding archive images that would suggest the different eras the stories explore. This first one is set in 1912. We took the ghostly figure of an Edwardian gentleman from an old photograph to suggest the supernatural premise, and the more modern face of the teenage girl to make it clear this was a Young Adult title. The backdrop of clocks and the plane of lines hopefully scream out time travel.”
Andy Conway submitted Touchstone (2. Family at War) in the Fiction category. Design by Pete Bradbury, saying “This is the second part of a teenage time travel adventure series – I’ve submitted the first two parts as a single entry to this competition. Again, the repetition of the the hand against the title and subtitle as a logo across the series, but with archive images that suggest the different eras the stories explore. This second one is set during the Blitz in 1940 and we found archive photos of real Blitz aftermath from the neighbourhood in which the story is set. Two women and a group of children were combined to suggest the characters we encounter in the story.”
Libby Fischer Hellmann submitted ToxiCity in the Fiction category. Design by Miguel Ortuno, saying “I realize I’m late… the book came out in September. But you indicated you were interested in trends, so I thought I’d send this along anyway.Thanks in advance.”
JF: For most books, the first rule of cover design should be: Don’t make your own title unreadable.
Suzanne Rock submitted Unholy Pursuits in the Fiction category.
Katharina Gerlach submitted Urchin King in the Fiction category. Design by Katharina Gerlach, saying “Thanks for the contest. It’s valuable for anyone who’s got to do the cover her/himself.”
JF: Here we see the unintentional leading of your eye to the space where three points meet. In this case, that’s unfortunate.
Roh Morgon submitted Watcher: Book I of The Chosen in the Fiction category. Design by Roh Morgon, saying “Licensed font was modified with addition of fangs to the ‘W’ in the Watcher title. Toothlike texture was added the font in both the title and author name.”
Julia Group submitted Wizard and Spy: Book 1 The Ex-apprentices in the Fiction category. Design by Justin Flores, saying “I’m really interested in your opinion because I had a different cover (now shown on the inside of the book) and a friend convinced me that I would have more sales if I paid a graphic designer to create a new cover.”
JF: I think you made a good decision. This arresting image would make an even stronger cover if the title was more visible.
Amber Polo submitted Relaxing the Writer: Guidebook to the Writer’s High in the Nonfiction category. Design by Connie Fisher http://www.connieleemarie.com/, saying “I gave Connie my idea. She photographed her own hand and took it from there.”
JF: I quite liked this delicate cover and the type that’s reminiscent of typescript. It has a relaxing effect all its own.
Douglas Klostermann submitted Ten Steps to Better dSLR Photography in the Nonfiction category. Design by Douglas Klostermann.
JF: One of a series of books by this photographer and writer. All have strong photographs on the covers, combined with the very middle-of-the-road (and over-kerned) typography. Clean and effective.
Nancy LaTurner submitted Voluntary Nomads in the Nonfiction category. Design by Nancy LaTurner, saying “I used my own photograph to capture the theme of my memoir of 20 years in the Foreign Service.”
JF: What’s interesting about this is that the cover showing for this book on Amazon uses the same photo, but a version that’s been heavily adjusted, and completely different typography. There’s probably a story behind this, but I prefer the one that wasn’t submitted. Here’s the link if you want to check it out: Voluntary Nomads
DJ Hazard submitted The Grumpy But Lovable New Yorker Guide To Enjoying Life Even Though You are Broke… And Grumpy in the Non-Fiction category. Design by , saying “I really don’t have much to say. I love writing eBooks and I like designing the covers. Technically, I’m just this side of a Luddite. I do all my work on MS Paint and Picnik.”