By Joel Friedlander
Welcome to the e-Book Cover Design Awards. This edition is for submissions during December, 2019.
This month we received:
39 covers in the Fiction category
5 covers in the Nonfiction category
Comments, Award Winners, and Gold Stars
I’ve added comments (JF: ) to many of the entries, but not all. Remember that the aim of these posts is educational, and by submitting you are inviting comments, commendations, and constructive criticism.
Thanks to everyone who participated. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did. Please leave a comment to let me know which are your favorites or, if you disagree, let me know why.
Although there is only winner in each category, other covers that were considered for the award or which stood out in some exemplary way, are indicated with a gold star: ★
Award winners and Gold-Starred covers also win the right to display our badges on their websites, so don’t forget to get your badge to get a little more attention for the work you’ve put into your book.
Also please note that we are now linking winning covers to their sales page on Amazon or Smashwords.
Now, without any further ado, here are the winners of this month’s e-Book Cover Design Awards.
e-Book Cover Design Award Winner for December 2019 in Fiction
Damien Lutz submitted The Lenz designed by Damien Lutz. “The illustration suggests what the Lenz is and its effect on Yoshi’s vision. The vision ‘beam’ also hints at the spiritual awakening Yoshi has, while providing a highlighted area for the title. Neon blue and pink help convey the sci-fi genre, and the beam’s twinkling edge suggests a touch of magic.”
JF: A very strong and effective sci-fi cover from an author/designer. The “ray” encapsulates the protagonist’s situation and makes you want to know more, but it’s the ineffable look on his face that stops us in our tracks.
e-Book Cover Design Award Winner for December 2019 in Nonfiction
Shwetha H S submitted Blues Brewery designed by Pixabay. “Here, the blue color symbolizes melancholy and the cup of coffee symbolizes the mind in which the emotions are brewing.”
JF: Okay, so we know that “Pixabay” is a free stock photo site, not a designer, so we can assume the author is responsible for this cover by adding the type to the illustration. Normally you would expect this process to result in another boring, two-dimensional version of a “book cover” but in this case I find the final result almost hypnotically intriguing in every way. Nice work.
A. K. Rouse submitted Phineas Varga and the Revenants of Windsor designed by A. K. Rouse. “The design utilizes a vintage engraving of Windsor Castle, altered in sepia tones on a background of cream, to impart an earthy color-scheme. However, adding depth, this is “punctured” by the bright aqua and golds of the lettering and the primitive-styled Nunnink blade, a key motif of the story.”
JF: Unfortunately, the end result is dull and almost devoid of impact, including the odd color panel overlaying half the title. What’s that for?
Amala Benny submitted Find Me designed by Amala Benny.
JF: The image and composition are certainly evocative, but the title is very hard to read and the rest of the type harder still.
Amala Benny submitted Flare: The Journey designed by Amala Benny.
JF: An exciting design with strong typography, it really communicates the mystery and allure of the story.
Ann Lindholm submitted Love to Reconcile: The Heart of the Father designed by Lauren Lockwood. “The artist, Lauren Lockwood, read the manuscript and prayed for God to lead her in creating the art for the cover, God didn’t disappoint, as her art work completely goes with the theme of the book, Love to Reconcile.”
JF: Not sure I’m comfortable critiquing your god’s work, but maybe you can remind him/her that white on yellow is a very weak combination and that in general we discourage disembodied hands floating around.
Camryn Daytona submitted The Last King of the Mountain designed by Camryn Daytona. “I wanted a fairly minimal cover that would leave people with questions. I chose the crown and the mountains to tie in with the title, and the the color because it fits with the somber nature of the storyline. I picked the font because it made me think of dwarven runes.”
JF: The question I was left with was why is the cover so dim and lacking any contrast?
Christine Kindberg submitted The Means That Make Us Strangers designed by Zach Harris. “Behind the title, the yellow jessamine (state flower of SC) is grafted onto a stalk of pomegranate flowers. In the novel, pomegranate seeds are a symbol of the protagonist’s promise to return to the Ethiopian village where she grew up.”
JF: A delightful cover that’s colorful and idiosyncratic despite the title not standing out all that well. Browsers, of course, will have no clue about the plants, grafts, etc.
Christopher McPherson submitted Sincerely, Dina Lamont designed by Matt Hinrichs. “I asked Matt for a glamorous cover — a throw-back to the Hollywood glamour of the 1930s and 1940s — for this “biography” of a mysterious Hollywood star who had been forgotten by everyone. The colors really pop and grab attention — just the way Dina Lamont would have.”
JF: A delightful design that emphasizes the Hollywood connection. Could use some stronger fonts. ★
Cora Graphics submitted Bones designed by Cora Graphics.
JF: Considering the classic style of the powerful illustration, I was surprised—and disappointed—with the font choices.
Cora Graphics submitted The Christmas Wager designed by Cora Graphics.
JF: Again, a strong visual but the script font is at war with the ornamental roman face, and the combination is awkward. The cover also needs to better balance the author’s name with the rest of the copy.
Cora Graphics submitted Miss Garnette Catharine Book designed by Cora Graphipcs.
JF: No idea what’s going on here, and I can’t read the type at this size anyway.
Daniel Logan submitted The Deimos Incident designed by Daniel Logan. “Cover is a NASA photo of the International Space Station, ISS, above the Earth (used with permission). In The Deimos Incident, spacecraft for missions to Mars are assembled on, and are launched from, the ISS. A stunning discovery on the tiny Martian moon, Deimos, alters our concept of the universe.”
JF: Gives the appearance of an amateur production.
Darja DDD submitted Shadow Magic designed by Milo from Deranged Doctor Design. “New Adult book cover design, Hidden Magic Book 1”
JF: The attractive heroine and ornamented type set the stage, but the subtle energy “aura” and moon that provides a background are great touches, too. A strong series design.
Darja DDD submitted Death Magic designed by Milo from Deranged Doctor Design. “New Adult book cover design, Hidden Magic Book 3”
Darja DDD submitted Graveyard Gods designed by Milo from Deranged Doctor Design. “Epic Fantasy cover design, The Raider and the Rapier book 1”
JF: Another strong fantasy series design that relies on active and symbolic images, good typography, and subtle color shifts to differentiate the volumes in the series. Very effective.
Darja DDD submitted Titan’s Folly designed by Milo from Deranged Doctor Design. “Epic Fantasy cover design, The Raider and the Rapier book 2”
Darja DDD submitted The Stolen King designed by Milo from Deranged Doctor Design. “Epic Fantasy cover design, The Raider and the Rapier book 3”
Darja DDD submitted A Reason to Live designed by Marushka from Deranged Doctor Design. “Mystery & Thriller book cover design, Marty Singer series Book 1”
JF: Here’s an equally strong series design for thrillers. Modern sans serif fonts are distressed to add texture, and the visual device of placing a very deep perspective image from the book against the background of the man’s back is artful and creates the kind of visual interest and tension that draws readers in. A series “branding” stripe completes the modern look. ★
Darja DDD submitted Blueblood designed by Marushka from Deranged Doctor Design. “Mystery & Thriller book cover design, Marty Singer series Book 2”
Darja DDD submitted The Bitter Fields designed by Marushka from Deranged Doctor Design. “Mystery & Thriller book cover design, Marty Singer series Book 7”
Dusty Grein submitted The Age of Reckoning: volume 1 designed by Dusty Grein (for RhetAskew Publishing). “The crystal shard here is a primary story element, and the author’s most fervent request was that the cover remain minimalistic, but keep the high fantasy feel.”
JF: I think you’ve met the brief, and minimalism can be quite powerful when artfully deployed. However, I think the many typographic styles and fonts used detract from the overall look.
Gabriela Fišerová submitted The Return of the Eternals designed by Gabriela Fišerová.
JF: The art is well put together, but no idea why the title font was chosen since it detracts from the effect, and doesn’t really add anything. Something simpler would probably work better.
Glede Kabongo submitted Conspiracy of Silence designed by Kit Foster.
JF: A very tight and well thought-out cover that expresses the feeling of the title quite well. I’m just surprised the designer did not fix the unfortunate collision of the tree with the woman’s chin. Distracting.
Glede Kabongo submitted Winds of Fear designed by Najla Qamber Designs.
JF: A super cover that draws us into the story by using key visuals, and the title treatment adds to the suspense. I just wish cover artists would push back against authors who insist on putting completely gratuitous and completely empty statements as “Award winning author.” What award? By whom? You would be far better off without this on your cover.
Glenn Starkey submitted The Daggerman designed by Jake Starkey. “THE DAGGERMAN is set in Israel during the time of Yeshua (Jesus) and a zealous group of assassins, the Sicarii, who used a special knife – the Sica (image in the cover). The ‘shadow cross’ (image in cover) connects the assassins to their religious beliefs about a coming Messiah.”
JF: Interesting symbolism and I like the simplicity of the cover, although the title font looks like a throwback to an earlier time, and not a biblical one. Also, you don’t need to put “by” on the cover.
Janet Roger submitted Shamus Dust: Hard Winter, Cold War, Cool Murder designed by Janet Roger. “Shamus Dust is set in 1947. The color palette of the design reflect the films noirs of the 1940’s. The image is from that silver screen period and wraps around the spine and back cover. The font is Gill – a little earlier but it still has the period feel and adds elegance to suggest a classic cover.”
JF: I’m a film noir fan and an admirer of Eric Gill and his typefaces. But your big problem with this cover is that it looks nothing like an exciting noir-ish novel. More like an academic work or a book of nonfiction essays maybe, but not a novel. And that means you missed the mark.
Jennifer S. Alderson submitted Death on the Danube: A New Year’s Murder in Budapest designed by Elizabeth Mackey.
JF: Delightful combination of simple but effective visual style with playful typography and appropriate fonts. Nice!
Johansel Estrella submitted The Young Adult Life: A Young Soul in the Heart of the Bronx designed by Johansel Estrella. “My interpretation of a major place of the Bronx a grocery store “Bodega” a representation of where my story takes place in a small borough called the Bronx. Classic Bodega color scheme with an attractive font.”
JF: It’s a lovely drawing but a lovely drawing is just the beginning of a book cover that works for you, and I’m afraid this isn’t it.
Laura VanArendonk Baugh submitted Blood & Bond designed by Damonza. “After several concepts that just weren’t taking, I sent Damonza a godawful stick man sketch, and this is what I got back. That is skill, I tell you! I love the result.”
JF: Terrific covers for this series. Expert type handling and effects that really work in this context, illustrations that pointedly relate to key moments in the books, and the use of light and dark areas to highlight the figures and action really make these covers stand out. (Not to mention the tension created by the soldier about to fall onto that very pointy spear!)
Laura VanArendonk Baugh submitted Shard & Shield designed by Damonza. “We had to go a few rounds to get here, but I like the subtle detail in this cover and the epic fantasy feel.”
JF: Even better. ★
Linda Rae Sande submitted Stella of Akrotiri: Diana designed by Fiona Jayde Media. “For a book featuring a warrior princess, we used “Wonder Woman” movie posters for inspiration. Since this book is part of an ongoing series, the title styles and Greek key on the left remain the same as for “Deminon” and “Origins”, but the different color schemes help distinguish the books.”
JF: Wonder Woman is a great model for your heroine, and this is an exciting image that puts us into the story. Title typography also adds to the effect.
Lori Witt submitted Ripples & Waves designed by L.A. Witt.
JF: Artless, with little appeal.
Lori Witt submitted The Husband Gambit designed by L.A. Witt.
Lori Witt submitted Razor Wire designed by L.A. Witt.
JF: Does the word “Razor” so close to her eye make you as uncomfortable as it makes me? Not much going on here, and the choice to go black and white is a bit mystifying.
Maxine Schur submitted The Word Dancer designed by Dragan Paunovic. “The cover shows the 12-year old heroine and 5-year old prince escaping evil ones in a forest. Dragan captured their age, urgency and forest eeriness. Also the hope embodied in the mysterious, magical Word Dancer who by dancing, provides them with the clues to survive. Chocolate Box Pro font.”
JF: It works well to encapsulate the story elements, although I wish the title hadn’t been pushed up against the top margin. Other than that, lovely.
Phillipa Nefri Clark submitted The Christmas Tree Thief designed by Steam Power Studios. “First in a new small town mystery series”
JF: Simple and effective. The use of “plain” fonts allows the illustration to supply color and tell the story.
Rebecca Bielawski submitted Splendor the Magnificent designed by Rebecca Bielawski. “Hand-drawn fonts. Used crimson and and gold to reflect majesty and self importance as the book is about an over-inflated ego.”
JF: Charming and unique.
Robin Mahle submitted The Forgotten World designed by Covers by Combs. “Though the crown is most prominent, a clear symbol of the fight for the kingdom, the city in the background is the most telling. Still standing, but with only a few lights visible from the darkness. The green hue represents the metaphorical sickness covering the land — their tyrannical ruler.”
JF: Expert image manipulation and a gorgeous crown tell us all we need to know to dive into this intriguing world. The title, though subdued, adds texture and structure to the whole. ★
Tia Hong submitted The Journey of Princess Tia designed by Christiana hong.
JF: Love the drawing, and I would have tried to better match its lighthearted look with the title treatment.
Anthony Davis submitted opCode: virtual machine examples designed by Anthony Davis. “used the font Bitwise for the main title and Data Control for the subtitle and author name”
JF: A pretty cool effect. You might put a border around it for submission to sites like this one with white backgrounds.
Brandy Miller submitted A Millionaire’s Treasure Map designed by Brandy Miller.
JF: I love the colors, textures, and effects on this cover but… you know, I’d really like to be able to read it. Isn’t that just as important?
Maraya Loza Koxahn submitted Love, Death & Tango designed by Maraya Loza Koxahn.
JF: Simple and effective although she’s not tangoing, is she?
Porche Berry submitted The Oil Apothecary designed by Porche Berry.
JF: Again, simplicity works. It’s not so much “designed” as it is “assembled” but it does look like it was aimed at its market.
Well, that’s it for this month. I hope you found it interesting, and that you’ll share with other people interested in self-publishing.
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Our next awards post will be on February 24, 2020. Deadline for submissions will be January 31, 2020. Don’t miss it! Here are all the links you’ll need:
- The original announcement post
- E-book Cover Design Awards web page
- Click here to submit your e-book cover (See New Submission limits)
- Follow @JFBookman on Twitter for news about the E-book Cover Design Awards
- Check out past e-Book Cover Design award winners on Pinterest
- Subscribe to The Book Designer Blog
- Badge design by Derek Murphy