Welcome back to the second (new) edition of the book cover design awards. In the early days of The Book Designer, Joel Friedlander used to present monthly book cover design awards and we’re resurrecting the series (on a quarterly basis for now) to bring attention to some amazing book cover designs.
In the first edition this summer, we presented six winning book covers: three fiction and three nonfiction. This time around, we’re adding a third category for children’s, middle-grade, and YA fiction covers.
The authors and designers of these books should be proud to be featured here, among some stiff competition.
Here’s what’s inside the Autumn 2023 edition of the Book Cover Design Awards:
Nonfiction Book Cover Award Winners
Forces at Work: How to Get What You Want and Keep What You Value by Missy Shopshire
Partial Description: In Forces at Work, Missy Shopshire invites you to rediscover what really matters to you.
Are you stuck in a job or a situation that feels tired or that you no longer love?
Do you ever wonder if this is as good as it’s going to get?
Do you have untapped potential but lack the motivation to pursue it?
As competent and capable leaders, we can easily become misaligned with our true purpose. We want to make a difference, but as commitments and responsibilities pile up, we bury our own dreams and succumb to others’ expectations and the pressure to prove and perform. Defined by our responsibilities, we lose sight of who we really are, and any hope of a return seems to drift further away every year.
In Forces at Work, Missy Shopshire invites you to rediscover what really matters to you.
What this one gets right: The cover for Forces at Work is simple and minimalist, with a vibrant color palette. The Newton’s cradle illustration creates a bit of a play on words, which adds visual interest to the cover.
Description: Are you ready to defy all odds, harness your inner strength, and leave an indelible mark upon the world?
This captivating collection of stories will ignite a spark within you as you meet a diverse group of women who have triumphed over adversity using The Empowered Woman’s Path framework—a transformative journey that will forever change the way you view your own potential:
- Notice Yourself: Discover how to truly see yourself, your dreams, and your aspirations through the eyes of these incredible women. Their journeys will inspire you to take the first step toward self-awareness and personal growth.
- Listen to Yourself: Learn the art of listening to your inner voice. These women’s experiences will teach you how to trust your intuition, find your authentic voice, and make choices that align with your deepest desires.
- Forgive Yourself: Explore the power of self-forgiveness and resilience as you witness these women rise above challenges and setbacks. Their stories will inspire you to let go of the past and embrace a brighter future.
- Empower Yourself: Experience the transformative power of self-belief as these women share their journeys of empowerment. You’ll gain invaluable insights into building self-confidence and pursuing your passions with unwavering determination.
- Transform Yourself: Prepare to be amazed as these trailblazing women recount their journeys from ordinary to extraordinary. They’ve launched businesses, hosted events, and graced prestigious stages—now it’s your turn to undergo a profound transformation.
Within these pages you’ll discover the tools and inspiration you need to achieve personal growth and business success. The Empowered Woman’s Path is not just a book—it’s a movement. Join a global community of empowered women who are reshaping the world one story at a time. Be inspired, motivated, and ready to embark on your own transformative journey.
What this one gets right: The vibrant colors of this cover along with the combination of illustrated faces and silhouettes create a powerful visual. And plenty of white space around the typography makes the title stand out.
The Forgotten Chef: Winning the culinary battle: finding yourself, igniting your passions and building confidence in the food journey one skill at a time! by Phil D. May
Description: After thirty years of traveling the roads of his own food journey, Phil wants to challenge and teach his readers to answer their own calling and embark upon their own personal food journey. The Forgotten Chef was written to challenge and encourage a younger generation of chefs to strive for a better understanding of their passion for cooking.
Whether the pursuit is to become a better home chef, enter culinary school for a career change or to become a food entrepreneur, this book will leave the reader with plenty to consider.
The book moves quickly through food stories, tips, and techniques to inspire and ignite the passion of its targeted reader. Through anecdotal food-related stories, the book covers important topics such as the right mindset for cooking success, quality over quantity, kitchen organization (mise en place), kitchen tools (the Dirty Thirty), the celebrity chef conundrum (why people get discouraged in their cooking journey), introduction to knife skills/care, cookbook basics, food preservation and safety and other fun chapters such as saving Grandma’s recipes from extinction, the lost art of sharing (food), and the new-old method of cooking, sous vide.
Let Phil’s wisdom, anecdotes, and culinary tales guide you toward becoming the chef you’ve always dreamt of becoming. Grab your copy today!
What this one gets right: There’s been a recent meme going around that says, “A tattoo sleeve used to mean you were a biker who would kill, now it means you’re a chef who makes a lovely pork belly with balsamic drizzle.” The chef illustration on this cover has an almost tattoo-esque quality to it, or at the very least, you could imagine this chef with a tattoo sleeve of his own. It works well here, as does the slightly off-kilter typography that has a vintage feel to it.
Fiction Book Cover Award Winners
Fractured Destiny (A Reclaimed Power Book 1) by M.R. Staxx
Description: As a descendant of Poseidon, my magical abilities are immense. At least they were until I fell in love and was tricked into having my powers stripped. Never again. Exiled with less than my full powers, now all I want is to reclaim what’s mine and dish out some pain to those who took them from me.
It won’t be easy. And once I recover my powers, the Oracle foretells disaster. Worse, fate decrees that I must mate with four different fae.
Among my exotic fated mates are a commanding dragon shifter, a hot-tempered fire fae, and a grounded earth fae. Each has their own allure, and they call to me in a way I can’t resist no matter how hard I try… Nor can they resist me.
But being bound means being vulnerable. And I’m done with that. I never asked for mate bonds and a destiny that robs me of my choices.
Can I reject my fate? I’m going to try, despite the darkness closing in.
What this one gets right: Sometimes, following genre tropes on your cover is the best marketing move you can make, and it’s one that Fractured Destiny gets right—for a “steamy supernatural series” this is exactly the kind of cover fans of the genre will be looking for. Add to that the excellent typography and it’s a winning combination.
Description: Trust is all Xendara has as an ancient evil awakens to destroy her.
In a galaxy teetering on the brink of annihilation, Xendara becomes the symbol of hope, as she leads her people into a desperate civil war. With her powers fading she embarks on a journey in a race against time to halt an ancient evil from destroying the Universe. But with the darkness growing inside her, she may lose everyone she loves.
With his heart divided, Darijus must choose between protecting Xendara or shielding his sister, forcing him to trust a former enemy. Navigating through space and time, he questions everything he’s ever known, including the person he holds closest: Xendara.
Together, Xendara and Darijus must face an enemy more powerful than the architects of the Universe.
Will they muster the strength to halt the annihilation of the universe? Or will the lure of dark powers prove too compelling to resist?
What this one got right: So often, any book published in the space opera genre sticks to a fairly predictable cover image: that of a ship somewhere in space. The Ancients deviates from that by including the figure of a woman on the cover, with her back turned to the reader. The light painting effects add some extra visual interest while also hinting at the “fantasy” part of the book’s title.
Of Water and Flames: Book Two of the Horizon Series by Harley Ness
Description: Shadows and danger are mounting…and not just for Thea, but for those she loves.
After the Myrkalfar clan’s deadly attack, Thea and Dean find themselves drawn deeper into the clan’s darkness. Thea doesn’t understand why she’s being hunted. Or why her dreams are being invaded by a hauntingly beautiful woman.
As Thea’s instincts and internal fire grow, she heeds the warnings of the ancient spirits and turns to Arlen for help. She soon discovers that she must confront her past…and the sacred and mystical Elven world that’s been shrouded in secrets for centuries.
She’s about to find out who she really is, and what she’s been running from. It will change everything, forever.
Once she learns the truth, Thea must choose: continue hiding from her past or face it—even if it means she may lose everything, including her own life.
What this one gets right: The primary image for this book cover is eye-catching, but what really elevates it is the beautiful typography. So often, book designers simply pick a fitting typeface and slap it on the cover. But the designer here has customized the lettering, creating a beautiful layered effect with parts of one letter making up parts of the next.
Children’s, Middle-Grade, and YA Book Cover Award Winners
Mama Blue Loves Cassie Sue by Deanna Thoma
Description: Can Cassie and Mama Blue ease the sadness of being apart? What can they do to feel better from far away?
Experience the profound connection between Cassie Sue and her loving grandmother, Mama Blue in this heartfelt story of hope, unconditional love, and faith. Although they are far apart, their bond remains unbreakable. As Cassie Sue’s mother accepts a new job in a distant town, a cloud of sadness submerges both Cassie and Mama Blue. How will they navigate this separation and find comfort in their hearts?
Join the Blue family on a touching adventure as they discover the depths of their love and resilience. Though geography may keep them apart, their spirits remain intertwined. Discover how they unfold the way to return the radiant smiles on their faces.
In this book, you will learn that:
- Memories are magic.
- Love isn’t measured in miles.
- Family bonds are important.
What this one gets right: Kids are attracted to books with covers they can relate to. And even though the main characters here are panda bears rather than humans, the small girl in the center is immediately relatable for most kids. The whimsical colors add to the visual appeal.
Jeremy and the Beetle Takedown by Sallana Brown, Illustrated by Beatriz Gouveia
Description: Jeremy and his friends are on a mission—to save the ash trees of a nearby forest from the vicious Emerald Ash Borer Beetles!
Join them as they team up to restore balance to our environment and discover how courage, clever thinking, and hard work can lead to success!
Follow this heroic team and learn about the danger of invasive species, the wonders of the natural world, and the importance of teamwork.
What this one gets right: The kids on this cover look like they’re having an amazingly fun time looking for an invasive species in their neighborhood forest. It’s a cover that any kid who loves nature will relate to and want to become part of, sucking them into the story before they even start reading.
Ned Bear and The Dirty Whisker Curse by A.B. Roveen
Description: In a world where magic is gone…
Ned is a grizzly bear trained for fighting wars. But he doesn’t want to fight anymore. He’d much rather live a life of exploration and leisure. So one day he ventures out beyond his village to the city of Wexlin.
The world is a wondrous place and he soon happens upon a group of pirates searching for a great treasure lost at sea. Maybe Ned can find fulfillment in joining them on their quest. It certainly sounds fun. The only problem is Ned is afraid of the ocean.
That’s actually the least of his worries. Many deadly trials and troubles await aboard the Ironwill, the pirates’ ship. As it turns out, maybe Ned isn’t quite done fighting. And what will he do when a method to restore the world’s magic is discovered?
What this one gets right: What kid doesn’t want to read a book about a grizzly bear riding an orca? The visuals here are immediately eye-catching and beautifully rendered. The typography is interesting while remaining easy to read, too.
Book cover design is an art, but it also requires a fair amount of marketing knowledge to create a successful design. Knowing the genre tropes, what readers expect, and how to make a design stand out without being jarring are all things that book cover designers have to master.
Check back each quarter for a new edition of The Book Designer’s Book Cover Design Awards! And if you’re curious about what criteria we’re using to select the best book covers, check out this article by Joel Friedlander on Book Cover Success and Failure Explained.