e-Book Cover Design Awards, April 2016

by | May 23, 2016

Welcome to the e-Book Cover Design Awards. This edition is for submissions during April, 2016.

This month we received:

96 covers in the Fiction category
14 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 April 2016 in Fiction


Lou Harper submitted Wrong Side of Hell designed by Lou Harper. “Urban Fantasy about a man who discovers he can communicate with the dead. The author empathetically requested “no hats.” :)”

WrongSideOfHell
ebook
JF: Zounds! No hats? No matter, this cover has everything going for it including a stylish look and subtle typography that emphasizes the noir-ish tone to the whole cover. And the fellow at the center, with his half-engaged, half-heistant look and aura of mystery around him is enough to make us want to know more.

e-Book Cover Design Award Winner for April 2016 in Nonfiction


Julia Robertson submitted Are You Buying This? designed by The Book Designers. “The cover combines in-yer-face type that screams “Advertising book,” along with American-flag inspired colors (as the book focuses on Americans); plus a queue of consumers from all walks of life.”

Are you buying this?
ebook
JF: A brilliant design for this book on advertising that implies big box stores, queues of shoppers, the American flag, and the overheated retail climate all at the same time. Along with a clever title, everything about this cover expresses the ideas to be found inside.

Fiction Covers


A.J. Norfield submitted Windcatcher – Book I of the Stone War Chronicles designed by A.J. Norfield. “Self-made cover for my high-paced, action-packed dragon fantasy adventure.”

Windcatcher - Book I of the Stone War Chronicles
JF: Clean and stylish, a nice effort.


Aidan J. Reid submitted Pathfinders designed by Design For Writers. “Submitted originally for last months (March) competition, but it must have fallen through the cracks. Thanks in advance.”

Pathfinders
JF: Lacks impact and coherence.


Amara Starling submitted Fragments designed by Lindsey Burcar.

Fragments
JF: Nice illustration, the title, with its swashes and ornaments, is almost overdone.


Andrea Barbosa submitted Massive Black Hole designed by SelfPubBookCovers.com/Raffael.

Massive Black Hole
JF: Underwhelming and somewhat artless.


Andrew Joyce submitted Resolution: Huck Finn’s Greatest Adventure designed by Streetlight Graphics. “The story takes place just before and right after the Klondike Gold Strike of 1896, winter Yukon Territory.”

Resolution: Huck Finn's Greatest Adventure
JF: A strong cover for this arctic adventure story.


Angela Castillo submitted The River Girl’s Song designed by Elaina Lee. “I came up with the creative concept for the cover. The model is a friend of mine, the baby also belongs to a friend. My sister, Cherie Haines, took the picture. Elaina Lee of For the Muse Design put together the background and added the font.”

The River Girl's Song
JF: I like the idea of the image, but the title type is weak.


Anita Moore submitted A Game Called Dead designed by Anita Dugan-Moore.

A Game Called Dead


ashok rajamani submitted if these saris could talk designed by ashok rajamani. “The book is the fictional monologue of an Indian lady who is wild, stylish, hypnotic, and a bit psychotic. As such, the cover presents a modern art image of her visage.”

if these saris could talk
JF: I love the stylish look of this cover and the Indian lady’s souciant look, lovely.


B.B. Gallagher submitted Ark-13 designed by Caroline Kiser. “I think my cover designer did a great job of taking a minimalist approach. An approach seldom used in the Science Fiction genre.”

Ark-13
JF: The cover is strong even if it is minimalist, and the detail of the rising spaceship is intriguing.


Ben Westerham submitted Good Girl Gone Bad designed by Joanne Wood.

Good Girl Gone Bad
JF: A very effective and well designed cover that needs a border when appearing on web pages like this so it doesn’t “bleed” onto the background.


Betty Shreffler submitted Embrace the Dawning designed by The Killion Group/Betty Shreffler. “The landscape photo in the background was taken by the author, Betty Shreffler. The layout of the cover and side profile of the woman’s face was the author’s idea. The rest was designed by The Killion Group.”

Embrace the Dawning


C. P. Dunphey submitted Plane Walker designed by Nicholas King. “The cover is actually a painting on a real canvas. The artist, Nicholas King went through three different stages of design and the cover took months to finish. Nothing about this cover was made on a computer.”

Plane Walker
JF: Pretty amazing illustration.


C.E. Cumming submitted The Admiralty Adventures – Treasure of the High Seas designed by Mark Reid.

The Admiralty Adventures - Treasure of the High Seas
JF: I had to enlarge this to see the cover adequately, which is too bad because it’s pretty exciting. No idea why the title has been pushed all the way to the top.


Cait Fox submitted Opening Argument designed by Cait Fox. “This erotica novella is the first in a twelve-part series.”

Opening Argument
JF: Good effort. I would try to limit the number of typefaces you use on the cover.


Camilla Davis submitted The Other Side designed by Camilla Davis. “A fairly dark plot for a children’s book, I tried to convey this using layers of detail to create depth and darkness. I used simple shapes to appeal to the younger ages. As an e-book, its thumbnail image works well in such small form, you can immediately see it is of a dark fantasy genre. Thanks x”

The Other Side
JF: Simple, beautiful, and effective.


Caroline Cairn submitted Forever and One Week designed by Bree Archer. “Bree has kept the same layout, but used a different colour to show the book was the second installment of a series. She has also incorporated a triquetra surrounded by chains in the design, a symbol defining the series.”

Forever and One Week
JF: These images were combined carefully and the typography of the title is perfectly appropriate, and all these elements go toward creating a solid cover.


CB Archer submitted Fallin: Rankin’s Tale designed by CB Archer. “This is the second short story in the Tails of Gentalia Series! Fallin is set inside a post-apocalyptic open world game, and the cover is spoofing that genre. (This Elfrotica only includes an elf on a technicality, but I think that is allowed since I invented the genre!)”

Fallin: Rankin's Tale
JF: I get the fact that these layouts and primitive art appeal to your market, but the type on these covers desperately needs help.


CB Archer submitted Tango Gourmet – Waltz of Salsa: Wellington’s Tale designed by CB Archer. “This is the third short story in the Tails of Gentalia Series.This one is set inside everyone’s favourite dancing/cooking video game hybrid and it spoofs both genres. (This is my first non Elfrotica story, it is instead from the ‘Food Porn’ genre.)”

Tango Gourmet - Waltz of Salsa: Wellington's Tale


Charles Murray submitted A Facet for the Gem (The Tale of Eaglefriend Book One) designed by Alisha from damonza.com.

A Facet for the Gem (The Tale of Eaglefriend Book One)
JF: A well-produced cover, but I find the intersecting bird and man with his cape unnecessarily confusing.


Chris Parlett submitted THE MONSTERS WE BECAME OR FELL FOR designed by Chris Parlett. “Mask is a collage of wood, bone, concrete and an MRI image of a knee injury.”

THE MONSTERS WE BECAME OR FELL FOR
JF: Can’t see a thing, and the title looks like it was intentionally made hard to read.


Clive Culverhouse submitted The Legend Of Heliodor: The Crystal Spirits designed by Matt.

The Legend Of Heliodor: The Crystal Spirits


Craig W. Thomas submitted Where Evil Abides designed by Jacob L. Grant. “Hi! Just in case you saw both of my submissions and thought this one was a duplicate, this is actually book 2 in my series, but both books were designed and self-published simultaneously. I think the cover designs really show a cohesiveness and consistency, and so I wanted to submit both. Thanks :)”

Where Evil Abides
JF: This strong series design relies mostly on the type treatment for its series branding, and it’s very effective combined with the animal charms.


Craig W. Thomas submitted Where Serpents Strike designed by Jacob L. Grant.

Where Serpents Strike


Daniela Morescalchi submitted Arachnohazard designed by agileArt/DL. Morescalchi. “A “Creature feature” type horror fiction novel. While it is about spiders they are a bit unique and didn’t want to specifically illustrate them on the cover. I decided to use only the webs to give a feeling of threat and mystery.”

Arachnohazard
JF: For such a scary subject, this cover lacks impact.


David Fisher submitted Emry Glory and the Guardians of Encara designed by David Fisher. “I’m eager to take a part in your May awards! I should have many more submissions next month. Thanks, David.”

Emry Glory and the Guardians of Encara
JF: I like the bold title that will “read” at any size, and the strong focal point of the light shining through the open door.


David Tatum submitted In Forgery Divided designed by Alex Kolesar (artwork), David A. Tatum (typography).

In Forgery Divided
JF: An interesting contrast to the cover above, this one lacks the contrast and focus that make the “Emry” cover so impactful.


Dawn Marshall submitted Demons & Angels (Walking Between Worlds, Book I) designed by Dear23.

Demons & Angels (Walking Between Worlds, Book I)
JF: Murky and hard to read, and here the figure with his back to us obscures the rest of the cover, which doesn’t work as well.


Derek Murphy submitted Prescient designed by Derek Murphy. “This is a time travel dystopia; I focused on color and mood rather than scene detail.”

Prescient
JF: An absolutely lovely ebook cover in which the delicate colors, subtle ornaments and the girl’s gaze all combine to great effect.


Dionne Abouelela submitted Scout’s Honor designed by Dionne Abouelela. “This title follows a young tomboy over the course of multiple narrators and a 40-year(ish) time span.”

Scout's Honor
JF: Looks a bit washed out.


Dylan Drake submitted Black Bead: Book One of the Black Bead Chronicles designed by Dylan Drake. “This is a sci-fi adventure story, so the cover needed to communicate that. The group of children are on a perilous journey across a dangerous planet, so I featured the setting prominently, along with the starry sky and the planet’s two moons.”

Black Bead: Book One of the Black Bead Chronicles
JF: The scene here really draws us in. Getting tired of these little silhouettes in the foreground yet? They are everywhere.


E.M Reders submitted The Feeder designed by E.M Reders. “The main characters of the story have an undeniable attraction to each other (vampire and a not so average human) that they both try to resist until circumstance and heightened emotion bring them together. I wanted to make the magic of their attraction apparent on the cover.”

The Feeder
JF: Stunning, it’s got magic and attraction, but the overworked title treatment just doesn’t fit.


Ebony McKenna submitted 1916-ish designed by The Masked Maven. “I wanted something clean and simple that conveyed time travel without being too cliched. The designer found the bi-planes and asked, ‘Are their any planes in the novel?’ When I saw the design I said, ‘There are now!'”

1916-ish
JF: It really works, and the contrast between the woman peeking through the wormhole and the black and white silhouettes is very effective.


Emily Ann Putzke submitted Resist designed by Emily Ann Putzke.

Resist
JF: This carefully put together cover has a nice historical look to it, but because the entire palette is “grayed” out, it lacks impact.


FRANK BORNE submitted THE CAPTAIN AND THE QUEEN designed by ELAINA LEE. “In The Captain and the Queen, the heroine is a college student who is about to graduate from college. She’s active in the theater at her school, and is a singer and dancer. On the cover, she is looking at herself in the mirror at a performer’s dressing area.”

THE CAPTAIN AND THE QUEEN
JF: I like the idea but find the strong visuals to be competing with each other.


Hanna Peach submitted Paper Dolls designed by Romac Designs. “Ths book is a psychological thriller/romantic suspense and this cover reflects this beautifully.”

Paper Dolls
JF: It’s interesting to contrast this cover with the one immediately above. Both have similar elements and color palettes. But Paper Dolls, by keeping the visuals to a minimum, achieves much more impact.


J. Thomas Ganzer submitted Chicago Two-Step designed by Group One Marketing. “Love the gritty crime noir feel of the cover, really conveys the emotion of the novel. The designer nailed it!”

Chicago Two-Step
JF: I’m glad you’re happy with it, but the very low-contrast approach makes this cover less visible than it might be, and what’s that odd tone behind the series statement?


Jackie Castle submitted Snow Belle designed by Jackie Castle. “Just interested in your thoughts on this cover.”

Snow Belle
JF: I like the idea and the setting, but the typography all needs an upgrade and some unified approach.


Jenna Dorian submitted You Holy Screaming Symphony designed by Dabney Morris and Jenna Dorian. “Hi! My husband and I co-designed this cover. Hope you think it’s cool. We like it. -Jenna”

You Holy Screaming Symphony
JF: Not too excited. What does it mean? The story sounds interesting, but I can find no traces of it here, and it looks like the “Y” at the end of the title got smudged. Cool title though.


JJ Minor submitted Do Horses Weep? designed by Kristen Watterson. “I met Kristen Watterson at a writing seminar given by New York Times Best-Selling Author William Bernhardt. I was impressed with Watterson’s artwork, as well as her book which combines story and related art. She’s great. Thanks for considering the cover she designed for my YA book, Do Horses Weep?.”

Do Horses Weep?
JF: It’s definitely eye-catching, but I wonder why, in a straight mystery/thriller, you’ve got a turquoise horse with bright purple hair?


Joel D Canfield submitted A Long, Hard Look designed by Joel D Canfield. “I wanted the darkness of noir with hints of color and light; a place that might feel familiar, if only the reader looks hard enough. (It’s actually a shot from inside Tiernan’s Pub on the San Francisco waterfront at dusk, a noir enough place.)”

A Long, Hard Look
JF: Tiernan’s is the kind of bar where you might imagine that the action in noir novels actually took place. Unfortunately, Joel, this cover sparks no interest whatsoever. Maybe hire one of the great professionals whose work you see here.


Jon Chaisson submitted The Persistence of Memories designed by Jon Chaisson. “The 2nd book in the trilogy, I wanted this to be a ‘midnight’ cover between the night cover of book 1 and morning cover of book 3. It also ties in with the book’s theme of yin-yang balance: the physical Earth and the spiritual elsewhere.”

The Persistence of Memories


Joshua Cook submitted Bridgefinders designed by S.A. Hunt. “SA really created what I was looking for. The near watercolor vibe really helped make the sense of a slight ‘otherworld’ look I wanted.”

Bridgefinders
JF: A bit of a steampunk look for this sci-fi fantasy novel with lots of action. Nice title branding.


Julianne Tomczak submitted Kingdom of the Faeries: Edenhart’s Rivalry designed by Cora Graphics.

Kingdom of the Faeries: Edenhart's Rivalry
JF: An effective genre cover.


Karen Tomsovic submitted Spare Me the Drama designed by Tammy Seidick. “Contemporary rom-com about second chances and family life.”

Spare Me the Drama
JF: Delightful and perfectly targeted to its intended audience.


Kari Trumbo submitted Forsaking All Others designed by Stephanie Adams. “I enjoyed working with Stephanie. I gave her the title, genre, and a few details of the book and she put this together for me. :)”

Forsaking All Others
JF: The woman’s gaze is the strongest part of this cover.


Kate Bloomfield submitted Passing as Elias designed by Kate Bloomfield.

Passing as Elias
JF: Keeping all the type together allows the image to dominate, especially the beckoning look of the woman in the mirror. Nicely done.


Katharina Gerlach submitted Juma’s Rain designed by Henry Iwanaga and Katharina Gerlach. “The picture was a commission which drained my funds so I had to do the typesetting myself.”

Juma's Rain
JF: The illustration is so muted it lacks drama, and it’s difficult to make out what the little flying figure is supposed to be. But it still makes an impression.


Katheryn Haddad submitted The Samaritan’s Quest designed by Roseanna White.

The Samaritan's Quest
JF: I like the impact of the man’s direct look, but he looks awfully “modern” for some reason.


Kathryn Bain submitted Small Town Terror designed by Clarissa Yeo of Yocla Designs.

Small Town Terror
JF: Really nice, scary and atmospheric, and I like the way the designer has focused our attention on the gas station.


Kathryn Orzech submitted Asylum, a dark suspense saga designed by Kathryn Orzech. “An 1850 painting by Léon Bonnat of his little sister inspired Asylum’s cover image. She was my girl. The cover image aims for circa 1900 atmosphere and mystique to portray the early dark years of a family’s secret past.”

Asylum, a dark suspense saga
JF: Lovely painting, needs a better concept and more sophisticated typography to really shine.


Kim DDD submitted Hush designed by Kitten from DDD. “Cover design for Murder, Mystery, Thriller book, A Mason Black Novel Series, Book 1”

Hush
JF: These two covers (see below) really work well for this series of thrillers. The type is exactly what you’d expect in this genre, and isolating one visual element on each cover keeps them focused.


Kim DDD submitted Lady Luck designed by Kitten from DDD. “Cover design for Murder, Mystery, Thriller book, A Mason Black Novel Series, Book 2”

Lady Luck


Kim DDD submitted The Halfling designed by Milo from DDD. “Cover design for Thriller, Supernatural, Adventure, Paranormal, Young Adult book”

The Halfling
JF: The meme of the figure with their back to us on book covers has really taken hold. Here, it works quite well to put us in the position of the protagonist moving into the urban scene.


Kim DDD submitted Shafter designed by Milo from DDD. “Cover design for Science Fiction, Space, Adventure book, Seeds Among The Stars Series, Book 1”

Shafter
JF: Classic sci-fi cover.


Kim DDD submitted The Red Brick Cellars designed by Kitten from DDD. “Cover design for Mystery, Thriller book”

The Red Brick Cellars
JF: A beautifully textured cover that combines strong typography with just enough environment (at the bottom) to make a complete and satisfying whole.


Kim DDD submitted The Zeppelin Jihad designed by Milo from DDD. “Cover design for Steampunk Fantasy book, Steam Pointe Series, Book 1”

The Zeppelin Jihad
JF: A very cool series of steampunk covers with subtle changes from book to book (see the two following this one). Although my favorite is The American Trinity where the furled flags help to bring a balance to the entire composition. But The Zeppelin Jihand has to be in the running for title of the month.


Kim DDD submitted The Electric Suffragettes designed by Milo from DDD. “Cover design for Steampunk Fantasy book, Steam Pointe Series, Book 2”

The Electric Suffragettes


Kim DDD submitted The American Trinity designed by Milo from DDD. “Cover design for Steampunk Fantasy book, Steam Pointe Series, Book 3”

The American Trinity


Libertad Thomas submitted The Mark of Noba designed by Alice Bessoni.

The Mark of Noba
JF: Although the illustration is well done, the cover oddly seems very static for an action/adventure title.


Liz Hedgecock submitted The Secret Notebook of Sherlock Holmes designed by Liz Hedgecock. “I wanted this cover to look like the secret notebook discovered in the title; a red leather notebook with stamped gold lettering. I chose the title font because I think it combines a bit of late-Victorian swirliness with good legibility at a small size. The key is my desk key, slightly enhanced!”

The Secret Notebook of Sherlock Holmes
JF: Must be quite a desk. You’ve achieved a complete congruence between the subject matter of the book and the cover. The font looks a bit “deco” to me, but why quibble? It works.


Lucian Barnes submitted Throne of the Gods designed by Katie Cowan.

Throne of the Gods
JF: An interesting look, although there’s some trouble with the type that’s crossing the tower part of the image, particularly that “E” that’s uncomfortably close to the tower edge.


M Michaels submitted Life Stood Still designed by M. N. Michaels. “hi I designed the book cover myself after lots of experimentation, using a wonderful online book cover design tool. It’s a hi-res picture (without artwork). The font size of the book’s title is large enough to be seen even as a thumbnail. It’s simple, clean (not busy) and in sepia tone. thanks”

Life Stood Still
JF: Not too impressive, and the combination of highly distressed type with the “zen-like” stone pile is jarring.


M. E. Roufa submitted The Norma Gene designed by Melanie Forster.

The Norma Gene
JF: A delightful and clever cover for a book whose protagonists are clones of Abraham Lincoln and Marilyn Monroe. Needs a subtle border to keep the white cover from bleeding onto the page.


Mallory Rock submitted Miles to Go designed by Mallory Rock.

Miles to Go
JF: Brutally emphatic, although I’m not a fan of useing 3 type treatments in a 3 word title.


MANDISA PARNELL submitted The Boy Next Door: A Jamaican Teenage Love Story designed by Ilian Georgiev. “A local artist was commissioned to do the art work to capture the main characters. The concept was to reflect the main setting so the house was set as a backdrop. Female stands with her back to the male, stoic facial expression a contrast to his amused one reflecting the dynamic between them.”

The Boy Next Door: A Jamaican Teenage Love Story
JF: A very good cover that combines clean typography with a high-quality illustration. The interaction between the two characters, though subtle, is what animates this cover.


Mark Tilbury submitted The Eyes of the Accused designed by The Cover Collection.

The Eyes of the Accused
JF: Where are the eyes? Or am I being too literal to prefer that to a floating gun?


Masha Shubin submitted Dinosaur Isle designed by Masha Shubin. “The author—a respected museum illustrator and self-taught paleontologist—had a number of bone illustrations, and I chose this one of his to play off the title. The duo-tone background also hints to an island in the sea. The colors were chosen to hint at the dangerous adventure that awaits.”

Dinosaur Isle


Michael Pang submitted In the Eyes of Madness designed by Michael Pang. “This is the origins story of an exorcist in his teen years.”

In the Eyes of Madness
JF: A bit awkward, and although those eyes look like they belong to an alien, it works.


Michael Villa submitted The Caretaker’s Legacy designed by Allison Strom. “With pencil used as the base, Allie created a blend of mechanical and organic in the cover to help paint the two major forces at play in this book. The mechanical creature is in a natural setting, the series title is wood with a metal finish, and the setting sun competes with the glowing glass eyes.”

The Caretaker's Legacy
JF: It’s very pretty to look at, but I have no idea what I’m looking at, don’t see any “setting sun” and curious why the series title is bigger than the title while competing aggressively with the background art.


Monica Haynes submitted Deadly Lies designed by Monica Haynes of The Thatchery.

Deadly Lies
JF: Solid genre cover, although it appears that the “L” is missing.


Natasja Hellenthal submitted Call Off The Search designed by BeyondBookCovers.

Call Off The Search
JF: Bizarre and confused.


Oscar Hutson submitted Mughal Gold designed by Oscar Hutson.

Mughal Gold
JF: The “self-published” look in all its glory.


Oscar Hutson submitted See You in Hell designed by Oscar Hutson.

See You in Hell
JF: See above.


Pat Hines submitted Camp Redblood and the Essential Revenge designed by Pat Hines. “This was created in Microsoft Paint (as were the book’s illustrations). I used another software to wrap the “Camp Redblood” text around the logo, but everything else is MS Paint.”

Camp Redblood and the Essential Revenge
JF: An interesting idea, and I like the attempt to make it look like wood burning. The background is creating some legibility problems with your red type, and I’m not sure I would have used both the stencil and “fat” fonts, probably better to settle on one.


Patrick Reuman submitted Sadistic designed by Johannus Steger.

Sadistic
JF: Looks more like a preliminary sketch for a cover.


Rena Hoberman submitted Iron Shards designed by Cover Quill.

Iron Shards
JF: A pleasant fantasy cover, again with the protagonist facing away from us, and with a border that helps focus us on the figures’ move into the story.


Rena Hoberman submitted Room 42 designed by Cover Quill.

Room 42
JF: Economical and straight to the point.


Richard Burke submitted The Rage designed by Richard T. Burke. “I wanted the cover to look dark and menacing. The red kites play a large part and several scenes take place in the woods.”

The Rage
JF: Um, I don’t see any red kites, and frankly this cover looks way too amateurish to do your book much good.


Ronnie Woodall submitted Beyond the Trees designed by Ronnie Burch Woodall. “I used a restricted palette (3 colors) to give the cover a more dramatic, focused feel. Designed in Photoshop.”

Beyond the Trees
JF: Okay, that’s a good idea, but that floating face is really disturbing, and I don’t mean that in a good way. The combination of visual styles is also off-putting, and the title type really needs help.


Rustin Petrae submitted Blood Ties: The First designed by Rustin PEtrae. “This cover was created using a variety of techniques in Adobe Illustrator.”

Blood Ties: The First


Rustin Petrae submitted Blood Ties: The Second designed by Rustin Petrae. “This cover was created using a variety of techniques in Adobe Illustrator.”

Blood Ties: The Second
JF: The shield looks cool, but I can’t read the title nor can I tell anything about what this book is about.


Rustin Petrae submitted Dragon (A Histories of Purga Novel) designed by Rustin Petrae. “I created my cover using my own hand drawn background that I extensively colored in Adobe Illustrator with added effects put in via Photoshop.”

Dragon (A Histories of Purga Novel)
JF: Nice concept, colors are so out of control they have become a distraction.


Rustin Petrae submitted Roc (A Histories of Purga Novel) designed by Rustin Petrae. “I created my cover using my own hand drawn background that I extensively colored in Adobe Illustrator with added effects put in via Photoshop.”

Roc (A Histories of Purga Novel)
JF: Here, with the colors more subtle, the design works quite well.


SA “Baz” Collins submitted Angels of Mercy – Phoenix In The Fire designed by SA Collins. “This is for a companion novel to the main series. The main character is recovering from a homophobic beat down by his boyfriend’s teammates. He can choose to collapse within or rise and become stronger. The cover was meant to convey that. (I blog about cover design from time to time on my site).”

Angels of Mercy - Phoenix In The Fire
JF: The title looks like it needs to be stronger to hold its own with the very active illustration.


Sally Goodenough submitted Farm Stay designed by Sally Goodenough. “The graphic designer who designed the other five covers in the series was not available so this is my effort to create a cover that complies with the series style. The image was chosen to convey the farm location and the undercover spy role of the main character.”

Farm Stay
JF: We can’t see the others to judge, but this one is clear and bold and does the job.


Sandra Hume submitted Worst-Kept Secret designed by Julie Jones. “My novel (women’s fiction, new adult) is a love story, but not typical. The designer used an app to alter a photograph she took, incorporating the book’s treehouse motif as well as the late-fall/early-winter mood. I love the ethereal look she created. It’s her first cover and won’t be her last.”

Worst-Kept Secret
JF: It has a good look to it, but I don’t think the font selection is quite right for the book and its genre.


Seneca Wilson submitted Stairs to the Top designed by Tony Brown.

Stairs to the Top
JF: An odd choice for a book of love poetry, and the title type seems wildly incongruous. And those aren’t stairs either, are they?


Shannon L. Brown submitted The Treasure Key designed by Lara-Jane van Antwerpen. “Illustrator Lara-Jane van Antwerpen, who I discovered on 99 Designs, did a wonderful job capturing both the mystery and fun in my middle grade series.”

The Treasure Key
JF: Very nice. Have you noticed how many covers are using silhouettes in the last few months?


Sophia Madison submitted The Phoenix Series: Blue Ruin designed by Indigo Forest Designs.

The Phoenix Series: Blue Ruin
JF: A beautiful and refined cover in which art and type match perfectly.


Stacie Wilson submitted Prophecy An Isle of Myst Novella designed by Whit&Ware.

Prophecy An Isle of Myst Novella
JF: Another terrific fantasy cover. How can you not look at that little figure in the distance? See, we’re already into the story. Not sure why the type is so attenuated it’s breaking up.


Stephanie Sorensen submitted Toru: Wayfarer Returns designed by Biserka Design. “The design also credits Phelan Davion and Michael Lars for the samurai image used and adapted by the designer. Biserka Design has a Facebook page. No plot summaries, but the designers nailed the genre (steampunk set in Japan) and the heart of the brief–samurai with dirigibles!”

Toru: Wayfarer Returns
JF: Samurai with dirigibles, what’s not to love? This cover has it all, with great atmosphere, the mystery of that looming airship, and the seriousness of the samurai at the center.


Suzanne Kneeves submitted A Keeper’s Truth designed by Vera Lluch – Illustration & Mumson Designs.

A Keeper's Truth
JF: I find this visually chaotic.


Tamara Rogers submitted Double Vision – Collected Short Stories designed by Tamara Rogers.

Double Vision - Collected Short Stories
JF: Energetic artwork makes this cover for a collection of dystopian stories.


Theresa Horne submitted Girl Soldier designed by WATCH THIS!. “This cover is supposed to portray the mystery and suspense of the story. I chose not to include people because I wanted the reader to imagine what it is about and question the origami stamp which shows up in the story.”

Girl Soldier
JF: The wax seal meme has been around for many years, and here it’s used well, but has to carry a heavy load as the only “hook” available to browsers.


Tierney Fowler submitted He Loves Me Not designed by Garrick Enright. “This is the second book in a series focusing on celebrity/fame. Each book in the series so far has gone with a tabloid/magazine theme. It wasn’t something I’d seen done before, and I think it does a good job of setting the tone of the book.”

He Loves Me Not
JF: The idea of a book cover designed as a magazine cover is another meme that’s been around for a while, and why not? It would work for this book, but I would go all the way. This one looks like half book, half mag. The “pasted on” paper strip is a nice touch.

Nonfiction Covers


Andrew Evans submitted The Women of the English Civil War designed by Andrew Evans. “These are four guises the author re-enacts for the Sealed Knot. There is a soldier, housewife, Lady and spy. Photographs were taken outside over three hours. These were then, comped, resized, sunlight and shadows added and then put onto a background of the Great Fire of London.”

The Women of the English Civil War
JF: Charming and apropos.


David Bergsland submitted Book Publishing With InDesign CC designed by David Bergsland. “I wrote, laid out, formatted, and illustrated the book. This included designing the cover. Though the book is primarily designed for non-fiction book production, the wonder of being transported to a new world, by that book in your hand, is what I was trying to express.”

Book Publishing With InDesign CC
JF: Solid design and sensitive typography from this author, who is also a type designer. I think the design captures the aspirational element of self-publishing well.


Denise Voccola submitted Little Cabin on the Trail designed by Denise Voccola. “The cover is a rendering of the real Little Cabin on the Trail which is located on a remote section of a 34-mile bike trail in Virginia. The book encourages folks to assign great value to their seemingly insignificant memories and models how to use those”

Little Cabin on the Trail
JF: I love the premise for your book, but a professional cover designer could represent it much better.


Jamie Arpin-Ricci submitted Looking Forward: Facing the Future of Christian Leadership designed by Jamie Arpin-Ricci. “After my publisher went under, I decided to release the book with a new cover. This was the result, a huge improvement on the prior cover.”

Looking Forward: Facing the Future of Christian Leadership
JF: Glad to hear that, and it’s certainly competent, but it would be nice to see something that says more about “leadership” than an empty road.


Jan Sikes submitted Til Death Do Us Part designed by Donna Osborn Clark. “The artwork on this cover is a combination of hand-drawn art by Rick Sikes, with Donna’s eye for design and distinction to bring it all together.”

Til Death Do Us Part
JF: I like the idea, but the style is a bit harsh for this subject, and there’s simply nothing more meaningless to put on a book cover than “Award winning author” (unless it’s “Best selling author”). Don’t do it.


jeffrey Nix submitted Deranged Justice:The Law & Lunacy of Bartow Grover Nix designed by Jeffrey Nix & Daniel Willis. “It’s a recreation of the actual newspaper that was released the day of Bartow’s execution–I wanted something to grab a potential reader’s eye–which is why the noose and headline are there.”

Deranged Justice:The Law & Lunacy of Bartow Grover Nix
JF: Unfortunately, it’s not working. The type is very weak and this type of visual really takes a professional to do properly.


Marla Carlton submitted Feminine Collective: Raw & Unfiltered Vol 1: Selected Essays and Poems on Relationships with Self & Others designed by Marla Carlton. “A collection of essays and poems of the raw voices of women who openly share their truths and express how the nurture, health and well being of the sisterhood is important.”

Feminine Collective: Raw & Unfiltered Vol 1: Selected Essays and Poems on Relationships with Self & Others
JF: I particularly liked the illustration for this anthology, which otherwise has a corporate look.


Maureen C. Berry submitted Salmon From Market To Plate when you want to eat salmon that is good for you and the oceans designed by Megan Johns. “I specifically wanted to utilize a sockeye salmon because when it is at the end of its life, its body is a brilliant red. Megan softened the red and placed the fish swimming upstream offering motion as well as a clean look.”

Salmon From Market To Plate when you want to eat salmon that is good for you and the oceans
JF: A nicely designed cover that certainly says “Salmon” loud and clear. The whole effect is a bit grayed-out, and might look better if the title had more contrast.


Michael Kingdom-Hockings submitted Dee-Dee and Effie Learn to Sail designed by Michael.Kingdom-Hockings. “Perhaps a bit contrarian, but deliberately so. Designed to stand out among Amazon thumbnails. Author pseudonym is more important than subtitle, so I don’t care about subtitle being almost invisible. Does it work for you or any of your readers?”

Dee-Dee and Effie Learn to Sail
JF: With respect, why put a subtitle on the cover that is “almost invisible”? The illustration is great, the type needs help.


Nick Hall submitted Hall Stories: My Mt Fuji Night Climb Chapter designed by Nick Hall. “With this cover I wanted to immediately convey the book’s subject matter (Mt Fuji and Japan) with a clean, modern and fun design.”

Hall Stories: My Mt Fuji Night Climb Chapter
JF: It is fun, even though I’m not a fan of the kind of type treatment you’ve used on the title. Submitters: Note the gentle border that’s been added to this cover to keep the white area from “bleeding” onto the web page. That’s perfect!


Paula Margulies submitted The Tao of Book Publicity: A Beginner’s Guide to Book Promotion designed by Troy O’Brien. “Thanks for considering my book cover! -Paula Margulies”

The Tao of Book Publicity: A Beginner's Guide to Book Promotion
JF: A peaceful cover for a rather frenetic activity. Notice the hanging leaf and its reflection that are perfectly focusing us on the subtitle, the essential offer of the book.


Sharnai James-McGovern submitted Smell the Gum Leaves designed by Sharnai James-McGovern. “The book is an Australian non-fiction memoir. The title was the primary inspiration for the design.”

Smell the Gum Leaves
JF: This seems a perfect cover for a personal memoir; idiosyncratic, self-effacing, and anchored to a specific place. (“Gum” trees are called eucalyptus elsewhere.)


Teddi Black submitted How to Have a Baby and Not Lose Your Shit designed by Teddi Black.

How to Have a Baby and Not Lose Your Shit
JF: Another contender for title of the month, this cover is designed to appeal to potential and new mothers, and it’s both funny and pointed, a great way to attract attention. It expresses the author’s goal well: “It answers the real questions modern women have about parenting. Can I wipe bottoms and still kick-ass?”


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.

Use the share buttons below to Tweet it, Share it on Facebook, Plus-1 it on Google+, Link to it!

Our next awards post will be on June 20, 2016.. Deadline for submissions will be May 31, 2016. Don’t miss it! Here are all the links you’ll need:

tbd advanced publishing starter kit

15 Comments

  1. Ian Koviak

    Thanks Joe! Nice to have made it to first place.

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Hi Ian, great to see your work here, the award is well deserved.

      Reply
  2. Anita

    I would love some feedback on A Game Called Dead.

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Hi Anita,

      The concept looks good, but the cover didn’t make much of an impact for me. I think the best way you could improve your covers is by spending some time studying and experimenting with typography, that’s the weakest area of the covers I looked at on your site.

      Reply
      • Anita

        Thanks for taking a look, I appreciate it. I will certainly look into that.

        Reply
  3. Ebony McKenna

    Thank you again for running the cover contest. I can only imagine how time consuming it must be.
    The contest is becoming crowded, which is great. 90+ covers for fiction.
    Scrolling through the entries shows how essential it is to get it right.
    The cover has to say, ‘trust me, you’ll enjoy this,’ to the potential reader. It has to be confident and professional. It has to say, ‘I am worth your time.’

    Reply
  4. CB Archer

    Well snap.

    I was hoping to get a nod for odd title of the month with Tango Gourmet – Waltz of Salsa.
    Curse you Zeppelin Jihad!

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      CB, don’t despair, that title is definitely in the running! BTW, every time I looked at your covers, I saw the word “Genitalia” which probably says more about me than it does about the books.

      Reply
      • CB Archer

        No, it really does say more about the books than you! Don’t worry my good Joel, everyone does that.

        I made it that way on purpose after all! :D

        Reply
  5. Rena Hoberman

    I think the rise of silhouettes and characters-with-their-backs-to-us comes from the idea that you shouldn’t show the character’s face on the cover, in order that the reader can paint their own picture of the character in their imagination as they read the book.

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Good point, Rena. Silhouettes are also extremely easy to use from a graphics point of view, and that matters for designers.

      Reply
      • CB Archer

        I have seen more than enough Silhouette train wrecks to know that they require a lot of skill to use properly. Especially with mixed media.

        Reply
  6. Michael W. Perry

    Sigh, most of these authors should consider themselves fortunate I’m not likely to be a customer of theirs. Given their covers, I’d probably take a pass. Reasons:

    Washed out colors and a limited range of colors strikes me as cheap. If you’re paying for four-color (as with POD), take full advantage of it. Don’t turn high-resolution pictures into a low-resolution, low-quality painting look. Only do that if necessity requires a cheap print run.
    Dreadful colors. They either use unappealing colors or colors that don’t blend well together. Study pricey magazines and their ads to get ideas about what works. Here are examples from a pro:

    https://designschool.canva.com/blog/100-color-combinations/

    Covers that don’t scale down well. Sold online, that cover is likely to end up a small, low-resolution thumbnail. Being little more than an incoherent blob there and without a readable title, suggests poor design. It doesn’t need to look the same at all sizes, but it needs to look good.
    Poor taste. If you feature a person prominently on the cover, don’t slash a banner across her face as one cover above does. Joel may think it’s a “nice touch.” I disagree. Also, although this is more a title issue, having “lose your shit” on the cover may fit with the nastiness and crudity of our contemporary times, but that won’t last. Shock self-destructs. Taste will not only return, it’ll return with a vengence, dating as tacky all that’s crude. Jane Austin wrote Pride and Prejudice for the ages. If it had been named Shit and Pee, no one would know about it.

    5. The show-off factor. We often buy to impress others and recommend what impresses us. Ask yourself if those who see someone carrying a book with your cover are likely to be impressed. Just keep in mind that impressing takes added effort. If it looks like all the other books in its genre, it won’t impress. It must be both different and very good.

    My next book deals with a serious but little discussed topic in medicine. I’d love to see it become a standard textbook for medical and nursing students. To that end, I made endless attempts to create a cover with a doctor and nurse standing at the bedside of a patient. All were blah beyond belief. Then in a wild moment, I abandoned the serious and factual for the amusing and playful.

    https://indd.adobe.com/view/094714fb-82c3-4f13-bfa1-07215cc064d1

    You can decide if it impresses you. I like it and have no trouble imagining a nursing student leaving for class carefully placing it on top, so others will see it. As a cover, it beats the socks off Fluid and Electrolytes. It reads better too.

    –Mike Perry, Inkling Books

    Reply
  7. Ian Anderson

    smiling love the last non-fiction title too Joel, can easily see a whole series based on that theme…
    Thanks for your efforts putting it all together :-)

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Yep, totally agree, I love that cover.

      Reply

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