e-Book Cover Design Awards, April 2012

by | May 13, 2012

Welcome to this edition of the e-Book Cover Design Awards. This edition is for submissions during April, 2012.

Here’s what we received:
82 covers in the Fiction category
11 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 April 2012 in Fiction

Masha du Toit submitted The Story Trap designed by Masha du Toit.

ebook cover design

JF: Terrific. There are very few authors who can draw well enough to do something like this, but writer and artist Masha du Toit gets it perfect here. The simple but enigmatic drawing combines seamlessly with the typography to create a really good ebook cover.

e-Book Cover Design Award Winner for April 2012 in Nonfiction

Clay Rivers submitted Walking Tall: A Memoir About the Upside of Small and Other Stuff designed by Clay Rivers.

ebook cover design

JF: The author is also an actor and graphic designer, and his skills at layout and typography are on display here in the cover for his memoir. Great job.

Fiction Covers

Elizabeth Barone submitted A Maid’s Best Friend (A Short Story) designed by Elizabeth Barone.

A Maid's Best Friend (A Short Story)

Virginia Kelly submitted Against the Wind designed by Kim Killion, Hot Damn Designs.

Against the Wind
JF: A simple and effective ebook cover that might be even better without the fancy type effects.

Eleanore MacDonald submitted All The Little Graces designed by Wendy Spratt/Lorraine Gervaise.

All The Little Graces
JF: Completely charming and perfect for this format. Simplicity really works well here, and the lettering perfectly complements the content and cover illustration.

Barbara Appleby submitted Around The Universe in 1,000 Years designed by Barbara Appleby. “This is the cover I did for Jerrold Pope.”

Around The Universe in 1,000 Years

T.D. Rizor submitted Attic Juice designed by T.D. Rizor. “ATTIC JUICE is a scary adventure aimed at readers ages 9-12. Going for fun, spooky, and eye-grabbing. (I have to say, your website has been incredibly helpful, Joel. The cover awards posts in particular have guided me along the way.) Thanks.”

Attic Juice
JF: Fantastic job T.D. Simple elements combined well yield maximum impact. We can tell exactly what to expect from this book.

Julia Barrett submitted Beauty and the Feast designed by Winterheart Design. “Thanks for the opportunity. This is a work of erotic romantic comedy -Food related. Lex Valentine of Winterheart Design and I worked closely together on this cover. Thanks. Julia”

Beauty and the Feast
JF: Wow. That’s chocolate, right? Now holds the “most tongue on cover” award. Hard to look away, isn’t it?

Micki Street submitted Before the Daisies Grow designed by Karri Klawiter.

Before the Daisies Grow

JJ Marsh submitted Behind Closed Doors designed by JD Smith, James Lane. “The artist made a video documenting the process of creating the cover. Maybe of interest? https://www.beatrice-stubbs.com/video.html”

Behind Closed Doors
JF: This is a very beautiful cover that loses quite a bit of texture and legibility when reduced to ebook preview size. Simply reducing a cover is often exactly the wrong way to create a cover for an ebook, as we’ve seen.

Geoffrey Lee Hodge submitted Between the Shadow and the Flame designed by CreateSpace. “The CreateSpace team did a nice job with this. The color palette islimited but eye-catching, the font suggests the science fiction theme, and the illustration works the main symbolism into an image that works as a thumbnail and in grayscale.”

Between the Shadow and the Flame

Heather Jensen submitted Blood And Guitars designed by Ronnell D. Porter.

Blood And Guitars

Mark Eyre submitted Burnfield designed by Matt Maguire. “Hello this is the cover to my literary horror novel ‘Burnfield’ It’s a simple yet striking design, with colours that really stand out. I also like the use of the quote, which seems to create a kind of inverted triangle, with the title, then the author name above it. ”

JF: You see, the problem is that there’s no size at which you can easily read that little type, that’s the problem. So why put it there if this is an ebook-only publication? Many people do this, and it mystifies me.

A. D. Cooper submitted Callum of Drakkar Coven designed by A. D. Cooper. “Commissioned by the author Leigh Jarrett to replace an old cover.”

Callum of Drakkar Coven

Alan Flurry submitted Cansville designed by Don Chambers.


C. Leigh Purtill submitted Chasing the Falls designed by Maurice Jordan. “I designed this in keeping with Purtill’s other book, “Fat Girls in L.A. (Book 1: All About Vee) hoping to try and build a brand recognition with the authors work and this batch of young adult novels from Purtill.”

Chasing the Falls
JF: This one continues the strong branding through illustration style and typography that typified the first, which was in an earlier edition of the ebook cover design awards.

Derek Murphy submitted Criminal Deception designed by Derek Murphy. “Criminal Deception [Kindle Edition] Lee Edward (Author)”

Criminal Deception

Steena Holmes submitted Dangerous Secrets designed by Steena Holmes.

Dangerous Secrets
JF: If you look at this cover within the context of the ones above and below you can see how murky and suppressed the colors are. This makes it very easy to skip over, and the illustration particularly might pop a lot more if it was brighter.

Nadria Tucker submitted Darwin, Singer designed by Jamie Harper. “The cover of this dystopian YA novel has a deco look that adds a bit of mystery. The illustrator highlighted the main character, her love interest, their state-mandated dress code, and an important piece of technology that drives the plot forward.”

Darwin, Singer
JF: Quirky and appealing, and I love the colors, a really good cover.

Steena Holmes submitted Demon Ryder designed by Steena Holmes.

Demon Ryder

Alex James submitted Depth of Exposure designed by Jun Ares.

Depth of Exposure
JF: An interesting ploy, playing off the “depth” in the title places the elements of this cover on 4 or 5 layers, but risks some visual confusion.

Jenny Twist submitted Domingo’s Angel designed by Caroline Andrus.

Domingo's Angel

Shawneda Marks submitted Embracing Myself Now designed by SC Creations In House Designer.

Embracing Myself Now

Rachel Hunter submitted Empyreal Fate (A Llathalan Annal) designed by Peter Bradley. “Peter Bradley worked with me on creating the design, asking my opinion on what I felt truly portrayed my novel and elven character, Amarya. Even the purple background exhibited the ethereal quality I desired; and the floating rose – representative of Fate – fit well with the story. ”

Empyreal Fate (A Llathalan Annal)
JF: A beautiful image and nice composition, but not helped by the typography which looks like the rest of the cover is overwhelming it.

Derek Murphy submitted Extinction Point designed by Derek Murphy. “Extinction Point [Kindle Edition] Paul Jones (Author)”

Extinction Point
JF: Another gritty and accomplished cover from Derek Murphy.

Melissa M. Garcia submitted Faith Departed: Short Stories of Mystery, Crime, and Despair designed by Neri Garcia.

Faith Departed: Short Stories of Mystery, Crime, and Despair
JF: Good example of how some skill with typography will make your cover stand out, as this one does.

Anthea Sharp submitted Feyland: The Dark Realm designed by Kim Killion. “First in a YA Urban Fantasy series~”

Feyland: The Dark Realm
JF: Here you have the classic combination of a compelling image and a title that can barely be read. Every month we see covers with dark red type on a black background, and it is very difficult to get it right.

Sunny Serafino submitted Finding Amy designed by Rebecca Melvin – Double Edge Press.

Finding Amy
JF: When I find Amy, I’m going to tell her to stop torturing her type!

Chuck Dowling submitted First to Fight designed by Rebecca Melvin – Double Edge Press.

First to Fight

Chris Thompson submitted Flight of the Stone designed by Jennie GyllBlad.

Flight of the Stone
JF: Can you make it out?

Liz Long submitted Gifted, a Donovan Circus Novel designed by Erica Dickson.

Gifted, a Donovan Circus Novel
JF: Can anyone actually read this subtitle?

Barbara Brooke submitted Glimmers designed by Streetlight Graphics. “Streetlight Graphics and I worked together to create a cover that would appeal to readers of women’s fiction: light colors, sentimental images, and text appearing as a handwritten letter in the background. Since the main character, Paige, is able to live moments in other people’s lives, the woman in the mirror is actually Paige’s sister. ”


Sean Patrick Traver submitted Graves’ End designed by Jamie Neese / Illustrated by Eric N. Clark.

Graves' End
JF: Nice allusion to pulp covers, this one seems just a little complex to me, but I love the way the shape stands out and the bright color contrast.

Robert Nagle submitted Hanger Stout Awake designed by Barbiel-Saunders Matthews. “Designed by the daughter of the author. Although this novel (first published in 1967), is a “literary novel,” it’s about a young teenage boy who tinkers with old cars. I like how Barb colorfully combines all the elements and the strange title together into a single design.”

Hanger Stout Awake
JF: Cool.

Oliver Wetter submitted Heavy Metal Thunder designed by Oliver Wetter. “Hello, this is my entry for the next round of the e-Book cover design award, all the best, Oliver”

Heavy Metal Thunder

Cole Drewes submitted Hounds of Heaven designed by Randall Macdonald.

Hounds of Heaven
JF: Great genre covers know exactly who their readers are and give them what they want. The very act of including your audience can just as forcefully exclude those who aren’t interested.

Kit Foster submitted I, Putin designed by Kit Foster. “Written in the style of an autobiography, ‘I, Putin’ tells the story of Putin’s Russia.”

I, Putin
JF: Another great cover from Kit Foster that shows it’s skill and experience that produces great book covers, not fancy tools or special effects. This cover, designed for the paperback, couldn’t be simpler or more effective, even with an air of menace that perfectly expresses both the content and the strong title.

Jordan Castillo Price submitted Magic Mansion designed by Jordan Castillo Price. “I hooked the descender of the “g” through the “o” to reference the silver linking rings that were the protagonist’s favorite prop.”

Magic Mansion

Nymph Du Pave submitted Master designed by Kristin Mummert. “My cover artist is fantastic and I think she deserves some notice :)”


Anker Frankoni submitted Mexican Eskimo designed by Kelly Puissegur. “Thanks Joel – Heard you at the Self Pub Bootcamp: Most effective speaker in the group! Anker”

Mexican Eskimo
JF: A charming and unique design but with lettering that’s very difficult to read at most ebook cover sizes.

Dan Collins submitted More Cartoons That Will Send Me Straight To Hell designed by Dan Collins. “The second in the series Cartoons That Will Send Me Straight To Hell. This book marks a new phase in my epub production techniques of CSS styling using InDesign. I also have left the aggregators behind and am delivering books on my own to the sellers making me in effect a self contained publisher under the name Fun-E-Books Publishing. It has been a life-long dream of mine to be self published and the dream is now a reality. ”

More Cartoons That Will Send Me Straight To Hell

Damonza submitted Music Box designed by Damonza.

Music Box

Dave Cornford submitted Nanna’s Travel Tips designed by Jan Withers.

Nanna's Travel Tips
JF: Title? Author? Who needs them when you’ve got such jolly smiling suitcases?

Amanda Taylor submitted Neiko’s Five Land Adventure designed by Amanda Taylor and Kristeen. “Cover design was based off of author’s character sketches and skeletal layout and pieced together by the designer, Kristeen”

Neiko's Five Land Adventure

Wendy Cartmell submitted No Mercy designed by James Cartmell. “I wanted a very simple design, with maximum impact, which also related to the first story in the collection.”

No Mercy

Derek Murphy submitted NOVA SOL designed by Derek Murphy. “NOVA SOL (A Brief History of Humankind) [Kindle Edition] Cameron McVey (Author)”


Diantha Jones submitted Prophecy of the Most Beautiful designed by Gabrielle Jones. “Thanks!”

Prophecy of the Most Beautiful
JF: A strong and beautiful illustration, but can you find the title and author’s name on this cover? They are both there, but unreadable even though this is an ebook-only cover.

Derek Murphy submitted Quintspinner: A Pirate’s Quest designed by Derek Murphy. “Quintspinner: A Pirate’s Quest Dianne Greenlay (Author)”

Quintspinner: A Pirate's Quest
JF: Readers might check this title out on Amazon.com, where the paperback, hardcover and Kindle editions are each shown with a completely different cover. This one looks the best of the three and has a beautiful atmospheric effect. But what about those award seals? Do you think they help sell books? Because this one really obliterates a lot of the delicacy of the cover. I would be interested in any feedback from readers on this topic.

Bill Cokas submitted Ring of Fire designed by Mike Sottong.

Ring of Fire

C.S. Walkingheart submitted Sally Lightfoot’s Journey designed by C.S. Walkingheart. “Unusual for its landscape format, this cover will double as a future cover print release.”

Sally Lightfoot's Journey

Jim Crigler submitted Seen Sean? designed by Jim Crigler. “Seen Sean? a traditional mystery set in the Atlanta suburbs. Second in the Mason & Penfield Mysteries.”

Seen Sean?

Ellie Stevenson submitted Ship of Haunts designed by James Allwright with image by Esther McDowell. “We wanted to show that this was a ghost story, hence the silhouettes and the transparent Titanic, but the novel is also set in Australia, and I think the colours and the starkness of the tree set the scene well.”

Ship of Haunts
JF: It’s always a challenge to combine illustrations effectively, and this one gets a lot of it right to create an intriguing image. A more interesting font selection might have added some balance, and the double rule is mostly a distraction.

A. D. Cooper submitted Simply Marvellous designed by A. D. Cooper. “Commissioned by the author Leigh Jarrett. She wanted a light, airy look to the cover, and provided the model at the bottom as reference. I ended up stitching 3 images together to form the top portion of the final design.”

Simply Marvellous
JF: Nicely done, and a very light touch.

David Lister submitted Spellherder 2: Blood designed by Self. “As with all my covers, I have to make do with basic tools and affordable stock photos.”

Spellherder 2: Blood
JF: Please see my comments on I, Putin above.

Carrie Turansky submitted Surrendered Hearts designed by Ellen Cranstoun.

Surrendered Hearts
JF: This cover has a lot going for it with good photography and attractive lettering, but the whole people-floating-in-water thing is tough to pull off.

Bard Constantine submitted The Aberration designed by Bard Constantine. “Very simple design using a purchased stock image and Createspace’s cover creator.”

The Aberration
JF: And a pretty good job, too Bard. You might try one of the lines of type in white.

Kiran Spees submitted The Astonishing Adventures of Missionary Max designed by Tim Engstrom.

The Astonishing Adventures of Missionary Max
JF: A fantastic series cover from the multi-talented Tim Engstrom. I love the pulp-y look, the excitement and the way the art is “distressed” to look like it’s from long ago. Great stuff.

Damonza submitted The Cartel designed by Damonza.

The Cartel

Fiona Leonard submitted The Chicken Thief designed by Heather Frank. “This is truly a global design – the cover photo was taken in Ghana, West Africa and sent to Heather who is based in Australia, before being uploaded to Amazon in the US!”

The Chicken Thief

Claudia Fulshaw submitted The Crimson Hour designed by Claudia Fulshaw. “The Crimson Hour is the second novel in the Timeslip Series by author Julie Tetel Andresen. Everything throughout this story flames red – the color of the traditional Chinese wedding dress, the communist flag, the tips of burning cigarettes, anger, and of course passion. The story line is constructed in circles – the largest being the circle that the story makes around the world. The choice of the Chinese lanterns evoke these circles. ”

The Crimson Hour
JF: Very nice. Strong but limited colors and a few telling details add up to an impressive ebook cover.

D L Havlin submitted The Cross on Cotton Creek designed by Rebecca Melvin – Double Edge Press.

The Cross on Cotton Creek

Ben Macklin submitted The Dairy of a College Rebel designed by Ferozi Dot https://pinterest.com/ferozidot/book-covers/. “This is a great design of the real Uni of Arkansas in the background with a compelling image of a guy in the foreground which portrays the story of the book.”

The Dairy of a College Rebel

Catherine Walker submitted The Dominion of Kings designed by Edwin Walker.

The Dominion of Kings

Elle Thornton submitted The Girl Who Swam to Atlantis designed by Create Space. “Hi Joel: I learn quite a lot from your posts. Thanks for making them available to all. Good to have you as a friend on Goodreads! Elle”

The Girl Who Swam to Atlantis
JF: An arresting image and sensitive typography are all that’s needed to create this very effective cover.

Vlad Kolarov submitted The Good Luck Puppy’s Guide to Growing Up designed by Vlad Kolarov. “I love your site! Keep up the good work!”

The Good Luck Puppy's Guide to Growing Up

James Bailey submitted The Greatest Show on Dirt designed by Valerie Holbert.

The Greatest Show on Dirt

Alexandria Constantinova Szeman submitted The Kommandant’s Mistress designed by Alexandria Constantinova Szeman.

The Kommandant's Mistress
JF: This is the cover for a 20th anniversary edition, and it’s interesting to compare some of the other covers that have graced this book over the years. This one combines a great photo that stops you in your tracks with a whole bunch of copy you can’t read and a very weak title treatment.

Greg Pincus submitted The Late Bird designed by Bonnie Adamson (www.bonnieadamson.net). “I think Bonnie Adamson not only created a cover that’s strong on its own, but also created something that captures the spirit of my children’s poetry that makes up the book. That’s what I was most looking for… and what I think she did so, so well.”

The Late Bird
JF: Bonnie Anderson, a skilled illustrator, really gets it when it comes to ebook cover design. Simple, readable, with a touch of humor and a completely brand-able look, this cover stands out.

Christopher Geoffrey McPherson submitted The Life Line designed by Matt Hinrichs. ”The Life Line” is about “the big one” — the earthquake that levels San Francisco. One of the novel’s set pieces occurs when some of the characters are trapped in the train tunnel under the bay. The concrete cracks and water begins seeping in. The cover designer was very clever in his image choice: the single crack cutting through the book cover denotes not only earthquake damage in general but the specific tunnel crack that jeopardizes the characters. The crack also serves as a metaphor for how the lives of the characters are torn apart by events in the story. The large, spare font also helps convey the stark setting of the story. ”

The Life Line
JF: Outstanding. This cover benefits not only from the self-assurance of the designer, and a knowledge of typography, but from his restraint. And this cover completely occupies the “ebook” space because you would never see a cover just like this on a print book.

Ben Macklin submitted The Queen of Hamburger Row designed by Burhan. “A terrific novel of the oil boom of the 1920s in El Dorado, AK”

The Queen of Hamburger Row

Marvin Arangorin submitted The Restless Warrior designed by Marvin Arangorin.

The Restless Warrior

Ben Macklin submitted The Retreat of Radiance designed by Burhan. “A best seller from Australian author Ian Moffitt.”

The Retreat of Radiance

Katherine Lowry Logan submitted The Ruby Brooch designed by Cover Art by Steena Holmes, Virtual Design Artist at The Authors Red Room. “In creating a cover design, I wanted something distinctive that provided clarity and connection. I tried white planked fences, Thoroughbreds, covered wagons, pictures of the hero and heroine, but nothing showed the distinctive character of the story, and in fact, muddied the message. What was the story really about? Not fences or Thoroughbreds, but a 14th century ruby brooch. Without the brooch, there is no quest, no love story, no happy ending. The torn curtain exposes the break in time. Written in Gaelic above the brooch are the magic words that carry the speaker through time. Below the brooch is the English translation. ”

The Ruby Brooch

Terry C. Simpson submitted The Shadowbearer designed by Clarence Teal.

The Shadowbearer

Lorinda J. Taylor submitted The Termite Queen: Volume One: The Speaking of the Dead designed by Lorinda J. Taylor. “The author constructed the cover illustration using the drawing tools in a Word document. The genre is science fiction. The drawing depicts the Termite People’s Great Goddess, who laid the stars and oversees all creation.”

The Termite Queen: Volume One: The Speaking of the Dead

Mary Lisa Bailess submitted The Wedding Macabre designed by Mary Lisa Bailess. “I’m not sure if you would consider me the designer. I bought the illustration on istock, then I croped the image, extended the skirt on the dress, and added the typography. But I did not create the original illustration, so if you have to disqualify me -”

The Wedding Macabre
JF: No no no, you are the designer and you have qualified yourself by putting together an artful cover. You might try making the floral design a darker red, you might be surprised.

Chris Stralyn submitted This Time You Lose designed by Tirzah Goodwin.

This Time You Lose

Toni Rakestraw submitted Titanic Deception designed by Morwenna Rakestraw. “This is the cover of our first book. Two photos were blended to create the image, highlighting three important features in the story: the Titanic, an old journal, and a pocketwatch. I believe the font is Bolton Bold.”

Titanic Deception

Melinda Chapman submitted Turning designed by Melinda Chapman. “Hi Joel, Thanks for hosting such a fun and informative banter about book covers! This design focuses on the fact that the main character has been bitten/infected, and we are following her journey from there. Thanks, Melinda”

JF: Sure, Melinda. This cover is an example of a good use of photo manipulation. I bet the original had none of the menace or mystery that are infused here. Nice job!

Jim Crigler submitted Unthinkable designed by Jim Crigler. “Simple graphical elements and a quirky font for a Unthinkable, a traditional mystery set in the suburbs.”


Anya Kelleye submitted Vampires’ Curse designed by Anya Kelleye. “This book compiles all the novellas from a trilogy into one book. The cross was a recurring them throughout the novellas as was the romance between the two main characters.”

Vampires' Curse

Karen Mueller Bryson submitted Where is Wonderland Anyway designed by Tony Bryson.

Where is Wonderland Anyway

Anthony Lavisher submitted Whispers of a Storm designed by Jamie Wallis. “This is the cover for my Kindle Version of ‘Whispers of a Storm’ created by my good friend Jamie Wallis (released 12/4/12).”

Whispers of a Storm

Nonfiction Covers

Marty Safir submitted 151 Uncommon and Amazing Art Studio Secrets designed by Marty Safir. “Hi Joel, Marjorie Sarnat, is my wife and author. I designed the cover and interior of the book which was released in 2011. Best to you and thanks for your work on behalf of self-publishers. Marty”

151 Uncommon and Amazing Art Studio Secrets
JF: Really accomplished illustration, not sold on the black background.

Susan Pomeroy submitted Dancing Past the Dark: Distressing Near-Death Experiences designed by Susan Pomeroy. “Vast, profound, scary yet hopeful – the author has struck that delicate balance in her work, and I wanted to do the same with the cover.”

Dancing Past the Dark: Distressing Near-Death Experiences
JF: A nice job of showing type on a complex background, I wonder if it would be improved by running the subtitle in black to make the title pop a bit more.

Kevin Sivils submitted Fine Tuning Your Three-Point Attack designed by CreateSpace. “I wanted a really simple design that conveyed a sense of movement and urgency. I think the design team at CreateSpace who came up with my cover captured what I wanted.”

Fine Tuning Your Three-Point Attack

G.R. Roberts submitted Reclaim Me! A Plea From Jesus Christ to His Followers designed by G.R. Roberts.

Reclaim Me! A Plea From Jesus Christ to His Followers
JF: Simple yet effective, this works.

Joanne Kaattari submitted Sister Soups: Recipes, Hopes and Prayers for Times of Illness designed by Joanne Kaattari. “Thank you for this opportunity, Joel. And for the ongoing wise and helpful advice! I tried to designed a better cover with better placed titles, colours and graphics, based on your advice. Warmly, Joanne”

Sister Soups: Recipes, Hopes and Prayers for Times of Illness

Rebecca Melvin submitted Smashwords Style Guide for Idjits designed by Rebecca Melvin – Double Edge Press.

Smashwords Style Guide for Idjits
JF: I wonder if there are now more “Dummies” and “Idiots” parodies and imitators than there are originals?

Patricia C. Nuovo submitted Soul Accounting: The Power of Money and Emotions designed by killercovers. “Thank you for your consideration.”

Soul Accounting: The Power of Money and Emotions
JF: You can see the influence of web graphics in this ebook-only cover. I believe the lessons learned from banner ads and other web graphics will eventually start to show up in ebook covers, and why not? This works very well and adds an “advertising” type of look to the cover.

jose maria cal submitted the 10 secrets for cooking paella designed by jose maria cal.

the 10 secrets for cooking paella

Irfan Mirza submitted The Right Browser! designed by Irfan Mirza.

The Right Browser!

David Bergsland submitted Writing In InDesign Second Edition designed by David Bergsland. “This is a radically revised and expanded book so it needed a new cover and a new look. I like this one (until the next one, of course).”

Writing In InDesign Second Edition
JF: The curse of the designer is what I call it, David, but this one is clean and appealing.

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 June 10, 2012 and the deadline for submissions will be May 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 e-book cover here
Follow @JFBookman on Twitter for news about the E-book Cover Design Awards
Subscribe to The Book Designer Blog

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  1. Thomas

    These are fantastic. Some books really do have covers that make you think to.

  2. Cole Drewes

    Hey Joel,

    My book is Hounds of Heaven and I agree all the way. I had this idea in my head and Randy just took what I told him and made the perfect cover. I love the cover and many fans have said the same thing but on the other side I’ve actually had people tell me the cover scared the crap out of them and just because of the cover they didn’t want to read the book…and who knows they may have enjoyed it. I use an artist know who only does ebook covers and so far he has made covers that most people will enjoy and aren’t so specific to my story.

  3. Lev Raphael

    Beauty and the Feast is my favorite for the clever, sexy cover matching the clever title!

  4. Vivian De Winter

    Hi Joel,
    I’m one of those lurkers who stop by quite often, but do not comment (until now). Thank you for taking the time to organize the entries and for sharing your thoughts. You continue to provide a wonderful opportunity for all of us who are interested in learning the ins and outs of how to produce an awesome book cover design.

    My personal faves: “The Wedding Macabre” and “The Girl Who Swam to Atlantis”

    I hope you will continue to include this feature in the future…

    • Joel Friedlander

      Hi Vivian, and thanks for “coming out of the shadows.” I plan to continue to run this competition every month for the foreseeable future.

  5. Dianne Greenlay

    Just a word of thanks, Joel, for sharing your expertise with the rest of us, on your many blogsites. I can’t begin to imagine how much of your time it must take to do this on a regular basis, but it’s really appreciated!

  6. James

    Totally agree with your picks here, Joel, though I really liked Cansville and All the Little Graces–they seemed suggestive, and to suit their (apparent) book type.

    • Jean Ann Geist

      No problem! Many thanks to Shelly for getting the cover in as a May entry.

  7. Jean Ann Geist

    Hi Joel, I tried to submit a book cover in April, but it didn’t show up in the above list of covers. I assumed the submission didn’t go through, so I resubmitted for the May contest. When i clicked on submit, your latest blog entry came up. May I assume that the cover entry was accepted?

    • Joel Friedlander

      Sorry for the bother, Jean, we will check on your submission and get back to you via email.

    • Masha

      Thanks for the mention, Duncan. :)
      As Duncan says, I created a number of “work in progress” posts as I developed the cover design, trying out different levels of detail.

  8. Susan Nadathur

    Hi James, with all due respect, I agree with Joel about the small type—not from any professional point of view, but from the perspective of a middle-aged avid reader whose eyes have paid the price over the years. I can’t read the text, and it frustrates me! That’s probably not what the author intends as I, as a potential reader, would probably skip over the book rather than squint to read the fine print. Sorry, it’s just my reality!

    • James Cardell

      That’s an interesting view Susan – and I wasn’t intending to come across as ‘professionals know best’ :) There are some things big publishers have done badly when translating their work to ebooks, but some designers have adapted wonderfully – even with small text.

      I’ve just had a look at Amazon’s top fifty ‘picks’ for last year on the UK site and the majority of these best-selling Kindle books have similar sized non title/author text (as does the winner of the non fiction award on this very page).

      Making sure a book works at a small size is really important, but it would be a shame if we weren’t allowed to add detail that works at a larger size too – especially when a quick click on each books product page brings up the full size covers in all their glory.

      • Susan Nadathur

        In no way did you come across as “professionals know best,” James. I enjoyed reading about your experience in the industry. It’s all pretty new to me!

      • Melinda

        James, I agree with you. I’m willing to click on a thumbnail to find out more if I’m interested in the book as a whole, and as long as it’s non-essential info and clear at the next size. My own curiosity peaks my interest. And it’s good advice about the big size being also very important and needing to be utilised. Unless we could make a separate thumb to a larger image, we have to reasonably accommodate both.
        I guess it’s a matter of weighing up each case, and this is a funny one to me. I agree with others that the text is pretty small here, and it’s probably only readable in the sample.
        It might not be effective before that point, but…it’s at no cost to this design, either. Actually, I think the ‘elegant block of unreadable text’ balances the title, as it stands. [At the risk of being booed.] :) If it was removed, the background image would need lighter areas/more foreground detail punching through in the lower half to do this on its own.
        So IMHO if the text has some effectiveness at selling the book at the sample stage, and if there’s no option to resolve the design in a better way without it, I’d say leave it. :)

        • Joel Friedlander

          As James has pointed out, there are good arguments on both sides of the “tiny type” divide. So it’s probably a personal matter whether you are intrigued or irritated by it. What I’d like to see designers (or, more likely, publishers or production editors who are making these decisions) avoid is just dumping the print book cover, whatever it looks like, into the tiny space of the ebook cover. You know, to actually think about what it’s going to look like.

  9. James Cardell

    Hi Joel – love the competition – I’ve been watching for a while and you get some great cover entries.

    I’m going to have to disagree about the ‘little type’ on the book Burnfield though. I design for ‘Big Six’ publishers, and spoke to a couple of other people about this as it’s something that was an issue when thumbnails first became vital for selling – yes – even before ebooks were popular ;)

    I’ve always been briefed to make sure an overall design ‘works’ at small sizes, and that title and author are clear. However, you don’t want the cover to look too ‘basic’ at full size and a good cover often has non-vital detail that only becomes clear at full size. (After all – we still want to add subtitles, review quotes etc, without having to make the design too busy).

    A final point – that detail can also act as a ‘tease’, encouraging people to ‘click’. In this case I couldn’t resist and checked out the full cover on Amazon (job done I guess for the author) – and the text is completely clear on the Look Inside feature. I won’t give away what it says though.

    I’d be interested to hear your views as an ebook expert Joel. Maybe you can persuade me otherwise?

    • Joel Friedlander


      My impression of the way ebook covers are created by “big six” publishers (and most every other publisher) is to just reduce the print book cover. That seems to produce covers that often simply don’t make sense, and completely ignores the unique qualities that make ebooks different from print books.

      Part of the reason I started this monthly post was to encourage designers to “think different” about ebook covers specifically, and part of that, to me, is to create images that are coherent, attractive and representative of the books themselves as well as the format in which they are published.

      For instance, a great blurb you get for a book might need 20 words, plus the author’s name, plus the attribution, all of which get reduced to an unreadable size even on images the size of those here (200 pixels wide).

      By the time a curious browser has the chance, as you say, to click through to the full size cover they are already on the book’s detail page, where the blurb can be given much more prominence, at greater length, and with a far higher likelihood of being read because you don’t have to click through anything to see it.

      I do like the “tease” aspect, but I wonder how often this turns into a “frustration at not being able to read the flyspecks” instead.

      Inteesting times, and I’m looking forward to seeing where designers like you take this very new book format as it continues to evolve. Thanks for the discussion.

      • Paul Rice

        I agree that an eBook cover is a different paradigm, and needs to be treated differently. My copy editor put all the blurbs and praise on the very first page before even the title page so that, like Joel says, it’s the first thing displayed after an interested person clicks. Can’t read = won’t read.

        • James Cardell

          I definitely agree that eBook covers add different elements – I just think it’s still about balance – getting people to ‘click’ on an image in a search is obviously key to selling the book.

          A cover designer can’t improve a book – they can only get people interested in finding out more. Having an attractive book that looks great as a thumbnail is the first job – but then making that cover look like it has more to offer can be equally important – it’s turning interest into a ‘click’. Human nature has a strong element of curiosity, and if you can hook into that curiosity then you’re part of the way to selling the book.

          @Paul Rice – I understand your point – but if you click on your book on Amazon, the Look Inside opens up on the full size cover. So in the case of the book we started talking about, the additional text (which appears to be a design feature rather than important info like title/author) would be clearly readable before they saw your blurbs/praise. I think Joel is referring to the product description on the books sales page, rather than anything inside the book.

  10. Dave Cornford

    I’m glad you like the suitcases on Nanna’s Travel Tips, Joel!

    What are people’s thoughts on “no title, no author” covers? I thought I’d give it a go for this little book, and it seems to work OK.

  11. GR Roberts

    Thanks very much for your kind words about my cover.

    I’m very taken with the covers for “All The Little Graces” and “The Girl Who Swam to Atlantis” this month.

    I really enjoy your monthly awards, and I’m delighted to finally be able to participate.

    GR Roberts

  12. Dianne Greenlay

    Thanks Susan, for your words of encouragement and for your opinion on award badges. I, too, think Derek Murphy did a wonderful job in designing a beautiful cover. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with for Book Two in the series.

  13. Susan Nadathur

    My favorites: the ruby brooch and Titanic Deception.

    • Barbara Brooke

      Those were two of my favorites, as well. There are so many incredible book cover designs posted here. Thanks, Joel, for giving authors and designers a place to showcase their work. I learn something new every month.

  14. Susan Nadathur

    Dianne, first of all, congratulations on your award. While I can see your dilemma in putting the badge on the cover, my personal opinion is in line with Joel’s. It distracts from the beautiful cover, which will sell your book even without the badge. Good luck with your debut novel.

    • Dianne Greenlay

      Thank you Susan! I always look forward to hearing others’ opinions on the badges and whether they are overall helpful or not. I really appreciate hearing your thoughts on this as I am nearly ready to publish Book Two in the series and have learned so much from the first time around. And Derek Murphy DOES do fantastic covers, doesn’t he? :-)

  15. Mary Lisa Bailess

    Hi Joel,
    Thanks for your advice about my cover for The Wedding Macabre. I’m thrilled to be part of your e-book cover design awards this month! My favorites are The Late Bird and Attic Juice. And despite the difficult lettering, I really like Mexican Eskimo.
    Also, thanks for confirming that I AM the designer. It feels good.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Sure, Mary Lisa. I was thinking that if the red floral pattern was made more continuous with the background the woman’s figure would stand out quite a bit more. Just a thought.

    • Melinda

      Mary, I also loved your design. You have a good eye. As an illustrator, I’ve found that designers sometimes hire illustrators to execute parts of their design, anyway. :)

  16. Johanna van Zanten

    Great blog, thanks for the shared info and for initiating the E book cover awards. I designed my own cover, but Bookbaby put it together the way I asked them to, after I provided them with the cover photo by my friend, an artist from my home town Amsterdam. I sent it in for next month’s batch of cover designs.
    By the way, I am impressed with Bookbaby, especially its speed to get your materials out there, within a week. One warning: one really needs to edit the material, including the description etc., as the contractual obligations are clear and they don ‘t do any editing of typos beyond what the author instructed them to do.
    Johanna van Zanten

  17. Anke Wehner

    Regarding tiny text, I’ve heard from one author/artist who does her own covers – M.C.A. Hogarth – that her reasoning behind including text that can only be read in full view is that she wants the cover to look like something you could pick up in a shop – I gather that the reasoning is something like “to many buyers published in paper suggests better quality than ebook-exclusive”.

    I don’t pay attention to award seals. I think I viscerally lump them in the same category as endorsements by other authors. Ever since I found a sequel to an originally stand alone book that had the same endorsement as the first with only the word “book” replaced with “series”, I’ve assumed all that stuff is a sham.

  18. Julia Rachel Barrett

    Thanks! Hopefully my book will hold the title of “Most tongue on cover” award for a long long time!
    Some very interesting covers.

  19. Dianne Greenlay

    Joel, I love your ebook cover designs awards posts and have learned so much from your comments. I am the author of QUINTSPINNER, one of Derek Murphy’s cover submissions this month. Derek, in his gentle and knowledgable way, tried to talk me out of displaying the book award badge, (at least not so prominantly) but I, as a debut author in need of affirmation of the quality of my novel, let ego get in the way and I had him put it on the cover anyway.
    As it is a debut novel, I have nothing to compare it to as far as assessing if the awards it has won have helped with sales, and I am really curious to hear other authors’ opinions on this. I have heard from a few readers that award badges catch their eyes, but I wonder, overall, does it sway them into buying? What does everyone think?

    • Melinda

      Dianne, the cover is beautiful! Derek has done a great job. In all honesty, the award grabbed my attention as a reader. As a designer, I’m not keen. But…as a writer, I respect that there are limitations to how you can present your book at online stores. If there was a tool to pop up a ‘back cover’ which could hold the blurb and any extra details such as awards, that would be super. But there isn’t. :)

      If an awarded book is on the page next to another book of similar interest [at a glance], I’d check out the awarded book first. As long as the award is reputable at closer inspection. Not saying yours isn’t – but in general.
      I also like the fact that Derek fit the award into negative space. It bothers me when people stick things over important elements of the design.
      Well, that’s my two cents. :)

      • Dianne Greenlay

        Melinda, thanks for your compliments on Derek’s cover and for offering an opinion on the award badge as both a designer and a reader. In the end, it’s about maximizing sales, and I think that different people are attracted to different elements – some more towards an award badge, and others to the artwork.

        And I have to say that your idea of a pop-up tool to see a back cover for an ebook is totally brilliant! (Are you listening Amazon?)

        • Melinda

          Hehe – thanks Dianne – but on second thoughts I imagine Amazon would prefer people to click through to the page to read the blurb [along with reviews etc] with the buy button nearby. :)

          • Dianne Greenlay

            You’re probably right. A “Buy” button is great for any author, no matter where the reader finds it!

  20. Christopher Geoffrey McPherson

    Joel and Kit: Thank you both for your kind words about the cover to my novel “The Life Line.” I have always thought I was pretty lucky to find a top-notch designer. I’m glad others agree.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Very savvy move on your part to hire Matt Hinrichs, who I hope will find more ebook covers that need designing, because this one is a knockout.

  21. Masha

    Yay! Oh thanks so much for your kind words :D
    Book cover design – especially for ebooks- is so tricky. My big weak area is typography so I’m so glad you thought that worked.

    Also love “The Life Line” – something so attractive about type done well.

    • Christopher Geoffrey McPherson

      Congratulations on your win — and thank you for your kind words about the cover of my novel.

    • Melinda

      Stunning cover art, Masha! It’s a bold, beautiful style and the text is part of the art. Congratulations on your award!

      • Masha

        Thanks Melinda! I enjoyed creating it, particularly the challenge of the typography.

  22. Lesley Fletcher (@gypsyles)

    It’s great to scroll through these amazing covers and see which one has me stop to look further. Alexandria Constantinova Szeman – The Kommandant’s Mistress did it for me in spite of not seeing the title until looking closely. I think it goes to show that visual people don’t necessarily need print to be attracted contrary to what some experts say.
    Very interesting and wonderful covers – 80% of books are initially chosen based on their covers/titles – Does anyone know if that is a fact? Joel?
    thanks Lesley

    • Joel Friedlander


      I had the same experience with The Kommandant’s Mistress, but as a type designer found it was impossible to look beyond the ineffective typography. Impossible not to image how great this would look if it was re-done.

  23. Kit Foster

    Another great month! Thanks for all the helpful comments as ever, Joel. Amongst my favourites this month are: Attic Juice, Extinction Point and The Life Line. I love the bold simplicity of The Life Line – I wish more people would have the courage to do text-only covers. When done well they can be really cool.

    Thanks again, Joel!

    • T.D. Rizor

      Thanks for the “Attic Juice” nod, Kit! I actually had your “I, Putin” cover as my favorite, then saw your comment. We must have similar tastes. Also love: “The Late Bird” and “The Wedding Macabre.”

      And Joel, thanks for another fun round of eBook covers. I’ve been watching for months, and glad to finally participate.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Can’t go wrong with those picks, Kit, and thanks for your continued support.



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