e-Book Cover Design Awards, April 2017

by | May 22, 2017

Welcome to the e-Book Cover Design Awards. This edition is for submissions during April, 2017.

This month we received:

88 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 2017 in Fiction


James Egan submitted Plague of the Shattered designed by James T. Egan of Bookfly Design.

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JF: Deliriously well done. It’s not easy to create three levels of focus—the castle, the stonework “window,” and the title type—and have them actually work. This cover does that while it establishes a strong identity for the book and its series.

e-Book Cover Design Award Winner for April 2017 in Nonfiction


Tim McConnehey submitted HopeFULL: Creating and Maintaining Positive Momentum in the Real World designed by Christian Fuenfhausen. “This is a business book for Positive IQ. Positive IQ is a unique approach to tapping into the power of being HopeFULL.”

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JF: Beautifully combines the promise of the title and the purpose of the program in one, memorable, graphic design with a completely appropriate color palette.

Fiction Covers


Aimee Coveney submitted Marching on Together designed by Aimee Coveney. “I loved designing this cover! The book centres around a group of Leeds United fans, and the publisher was keen to include the team colours whilst keeping the design attractive for the literary fiction market, with a serious tone for the books travel/war grave subject.”

Marching on Together
JF: Graphically effective, it hits all the bases while supplying some “human scale” at the same time.


AK Lakelett submitted Remember Me? designed by James.

Remember Me?
JF: A clever and atmospheric cover but I’m not sure it’s helped by the unusual title treatment. You?


Alessio Cala submitted Forgotten Liberty designed by Alessio Cala.

Forgotten Liberty
JF: I like the idea, but in this version it doesn’t work because the type is weak and the images don’t combine well.


Allison Bruning submitted Damaged designed by Krystal George. “The cover was designed to depict the suffering the main character in this short story goes through. It is very eye catching.”

Damaged
JF: Sadly, I disagree. The overall effect is so ghostly and static it will be easy to miss.


Angelo Marcos submitted The Artist designed by The Cover Collection. “I originally designed my own cover but decided I needed a professionally-designed one. As the book is a psychological thriller, I wanted a cover with a hint of menace and intrigue. The murders all occur in a dingy basement, which is why I loved this design.”

The Artist
JF: Good decision. This cover has a nice air of mystery and menace, and will appeal to thriller readers.


Beth Martin submitted The End of Refuge designed by Beth Martin. “The inhabitants of the shelter called Refuge have been trapped underground for over 20 years. The image on the cover is a photograph of a marker for an abandoned bunker in Ukraine. Distressed concrete sets the tone for the novel, but the bright colors keep it from being too dreary.”

The End of Refuge
JF: A pretty effective cover, except for the subtitle which is completely illegible.


Bev Stout submitted My Name is Nissa designed by Joshua Etteldorf.

My Name is Nissa
JF: Seems to cover the “fantasy” part while ignoring the “urban” part, and overall it looks quite a bit too timid.


Brian Converse submitted Rajani Chronicles I: Stone Soldiers designed by Lawrence Mann.

Rajani Chronicles I: Stone Soldiers
JF: A few too many people populating the “back turned to the audience” on this cover, muddying the effect.


Carrie D. Miller submitted The White Raven designed by Helen Lloyd. “I knew from the beginning that I wanted a white raven prominently on the cover, so I began searching the internet for images. I wanted something slightly ghostly and abstract. I came across an amazing pencil drawing of a black crow from artist Helen Lloyd, who specializes in animal portraits.”

The White Raven
JF: Simplicity works well here, but shouldn’t the Raven/Crow be flying higher up on the cover?


Chris Ledbetter submitted The Sky Throne designed by Najla Qamber Designs.

The Sky Throne
JF: Good, and the medallion at the center works as a focusing device.


Chris Norbury submitted Castle Danger designed by Todd Engel. “My suspense novel is set on the rugged north shore of Lake Superior. The cover captures the essence of the story: danger from man (cabin fire), from nature (brutal winter, unforgiving lake), and the fact that the small town of Castle Danger is isolated, which affects the outcome of the story.”

Castle Danger
JF: Much of what you describe doesn’t come across, perhaps because you’re trying to squeeze too many things into the cover. The type also needs an upgrade because it’s contributing nothing to the overall effect.


Christina Quinn submitted A Kiss of Crimson designed by Christina Quinn. “I haven’t been dabbling in cover design for long (2 years) but I thought it would be neat to attempt a paranormal romance cover without a half naked guy, and while emphasizing the color red without shoving it in your face and up your butt simultaneously.”

A Kiss of Crimson
JF: Thank you! This would be stronger if the title was enlarged at least 20%.


Christopher McPherson submitted 22 designed by Matt Hinrichs. “”22″ is a novel that shows how the “butterfly effect” can change the universe — in this case, it is the appearance of a gun that shatters the fragile lives of 22 people. Cover designed by Matt Hinrichs.”

22
JF: Artful and intriguing. The drawing style will help it stand out.


Cora Graphics submitted Di Ghiaccio e Oro designed by Cora Graphics.

Di Ghiaccio e Oro
JF: The beautiful heroine helps to sell this carefully constructed cover.


Cora Graphics submitted Prime designed by Cora Graphics.

Prime
JF: The “looking through the porthole” meme is powerful, but in this case with so much going on in the scene beyond, the double planets create visual confusion that doesn’t help the cover, which is otherwise very professional.


Cora Graphics submitted Dating the iit Guy designed by Cora Graphics.

Dating the iit Guy
JF: A lovely cover (love those stars) that isn’t helped at all by the arbitrary horizontal while lines emanating from the title. Why cut the image that way?


Cora Graphics submitted Born designed by Cora Graphics.

Born
JF: I like the saucy woman, but it looks like she’s dwarfed by the chair. Zooming in on her might have made it a stronger cover.


D. G. Speirs submitted Triangle: False Mirror designed by Ricky Gunawan. “First in a series of action/adventure novels, the concept was a throwback to adventure film posters from the 1980s and 90s – five to six strong, identifiable images that will relate to the story, including the character images down center. I held an online design contest to find this designer.”

Triangle: False Mirror
JF: A cover that really suffers from the attempt to cram too many images and ideas into it, and the very weak typography that’s only marginally readable.


D. L. Armillei submitted Shock of Fate designed by D. L. Armillei. “Thank you!”

Shock of Fate
JF: Many good things here, but putting the highlight into the person’s eye makes it compete with the strong highlight on the gold seal/coin thingy. Likely better without it.


Dan Green submitted The Spark: A Meridia Falls Fantasy Thriller designed by Dan Green. “I wanted a cover that would pop off the page. The eyes and the door are both strong elements from the story. The eyes work really well in drawing you in to the mysterious white door.”

The Spark: A Meridia Falls Fantasy Thriller
JF: Attractive and interesting, with very careful typography. But once again, nothing whatsoever on this cover indicates “urban,” quite the opposite.


Darja DDD submitted Written In Blood designed by Kitten from Deranged Doctor Design. “Mystery & Crime cover design.”

Written In Blood
JF: Expert design hits all the bases with a cover designed to attract thriller readers.


Darja DDD submitted Catling’s Bane designed by Milo from Deranged Doctor Design. “Science Fiction & Fantasy cover design. The Rose Shield Book 1.”

Catling's Bane
JF: Here’s a great design for a sci-fi/fantasy series. Although they are all good, Catlina’s Bane is the one I like best. Dramatic lighting, evocative textures, careful type, and that central rose ensure all these covers will delight fans.


Darja DDD submitted Oathbreakers’ Guild designed by Milo from Deranged Doctor Design. “Science Fiction & Fantasy cover design. The Rose Shield Book 2”

Oathbreakers' Guild


Darja DDD submitted Farlanders’ Law designed by Milo from Deranged Doctor Design. “Science Fiction & Fantasy cover design. The Rose Shield Book 3”

Farlanders' Law


Darja DDD submitted Kari’s Reckoning designed by Milo from Deranged Doctor Design. “Science Fiction & Fantasy cover design. The Rose Shield Book 4”

Kari's Reckoning


Darja DDD submitted Crow Vector designed by Milo from Deranged Doctor Design. “Science Fiction, Action cover design”

Crow Vector
JF: A solid genre design that highlights the protagonist.


Darja DDD submitted The Dangers of Secrets designed by Marushka from Deranged Doctor Design. “Mystery, Historical cover. Hearts in Hazard Book 4”

The Dangers of Secrets
JF: Another strong series design, this one for historical mysteries. Note that in addition to the usual changes of color and titles from one book to the next, here the designer has also used three different poses for the woman at the center of the cover; one from the back, one from the side, and one from the front.


Darja DDD submitted The Dangers for Spies designed by Marushka from Deranged Doctor Design. “Mystery, Thriller & Suspense design. Hearts in Hazard Book 5”

The Dangers for Spies


Darja DDD submitted The Dangers to Hearts designed by Marushka from Deranged Doctor Design. “Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Hearts in Hazard Book 6”

The Dangers to Hearts


Darja DDD submitted The Road to Kalbakar designed by Milo from Deranged Doctor Design. “Fantasy Magic Sword Sorcery cover. Wyrms of Pasandir book one”

The Road to Kalbakar
JF: Exciting covers for this sword and sorcery series. Here the illustrations tell us about the story and its setting, and the familiar backlighted, back-to-you figures at the center draw us in. I particularly liked this one for the strong contrast of the title.


Darja DDD submitted The Pirates of Brisa designed by Milo from Deranged Doctor Design. “Fantasy Magic Sword Sorcery cover design. Wyrms of Pasandir book 2”

The Pirates of Brisa


david byrne submitted Shady Place designed by Jason Fragale. “Many of the elements featured on the cover are related directly to plot points and things mentioned in the novel. Thanks for the consideration!”

Shady Place


Don Foxe submitted Confrontation designed by Don Foxe. “All images used taken from pixabay.com. Graphic enhancements done with I-Mac Preview.”

Confrontation
JF: I suggest hiring one of the terrific cover designers whose work you see in this post.


Donna Malacina submitted HELP ME! designed by Travis Miles. “A friend of my daughter’s who was having troubles dealing with life issues, social media, and bullying at school. He would cut his arms to help deal with life. Base on real events.”

HELP ME!
JF: Brutal but effective. Although I’m not a fan of the “crossword” style title, this cover honestly reflects the content.


Earl Mathis submitted Table Fables – Bukosi, King of the Ants designed by Misa Jovanovic. “Table Fables is a collection of original stories told around the kitchen table by the author to his two young daughters to import life lessons, values, and to inspire their imagination. The cover depicts animal characters that come together to tell these stories.”

Table Fables - Bukosi, King of the Ants
JF: A charming cover, but I think it would be even better if you changed the color of the rule from black to something softer.


Erik Carter submitted Stone Groove designed by Erik Carter. “I noted that protagonist-running/walking-away-from-the-viewer covers were doing extremely well in my genre, so that’s how I approached my redesign. When searching for images, I ran across this fantastic photo of a decrepit, rotting dock, perfect for my story and for the thriller genre in general.”

Stone Groove
JF: Well done.


Flavio Verna Santonocito submitted Pnaramakhia designed by Nicoleta Stavarache. “Pnaramakhia is a psychological steampunk/thriller. The three main characters are linked together in their strive to emerge from the claustrophobic maze they are trapped in, fleeing from the claustrophobic horrors hiding in the dark around them.”

Pnaramakhia
JF: A dark and nightmarish cover, but I wonder if people will be attracted by the depersonalized figures representing the characters? Definitely claustrophobic.


J.D. Martin submitted The War-Bringer designed by Maurojaurenart. “The cover illustrates an arrow that is composed of blue energy that is formed when the bowstring is pulled.”

The War-Bringer
JF: A dynamic illustration that doesn’t need the black band at the bottom, and although it’s great, it shouldn’t be allowed to push the title into insignificance.


Jacob Stull submitted The King’s Locket designed by Irene González Frizzera. “Irene drew the illustration by hand, then used ink and watercolor to beautifully finish the unique piece of art. She then used photoshop to design the final e-book cover.”

The King's Locket
JF: The illustration style is interesting, but there are way too many elements, characters, ornaments, lines, and so on on this cover to present one, unified offer to the reader.


Jade Zivanovic submitted The Bus Blogger designed by Steam Power Studios.

The Bus Blogger
JF: I like everything about this very hip cover… except that white box. Maybe it’s just me?


James Egan submitted Pursuit designed by James T. Egan of Bookfly Design.

Pursuit


James Egan submitted Dark Descent designed by James T. Egan of Bookfly Design.
JF: A solid action/thriller cover with the one detail—the figure in the lenses of the binoculars—that brings it all together.

Dark Descent
JF: Another winner, with distinctive type and interesting contrast between the girl in “cool” colors and the inflamed surroundings.


Julia Byrd submitted Gray Places designed by Elle J Rossi.

Gray Places
JF: Way too much going on, causes visual “noise.”


Ken L Gould submitted Death’s Grip designed by Ken L Gould.

Death's Grip
JF: Doesn’t actually look like a book cover to me.


Kevin Flanders submitted Burn Do Not Read designed by Kevin Flanders & Brandi Doane McCann. “Thank you for your consideration. Kevin Flanders”

Burn Do Not Read
JF: Some nice touches, but all the texture etc on the clock face makes it even harder to see the far scene.


Kevin Flanders submitted Gridlocked designed by Kevin Flanders & Brandi Doane McCann. “Thank you for your consideration. Kevin Flanders”

Gridlocked
JF: Does the American flag motif mean this is an American problem?


Kim Rutter submitted The Banker’s Wives designed by Kim Rutter.

The Banker's Wives
JF: Could be a strong photo, but the designer has no idea what to do with it.


Kimberley O’Malley submitted Coming Home designed by Rebecca Pau. “Rebecca did a phenomenal job on this cover! I hope you enjoy it!! Kimberley”

Coming Home


Kirsten McKenzie submitted Fifteen Postcards designed by Katie Waller. “‘Fifteen Postcards’ traverses three continents and two centuries, with one of the key pillars of the story being an Indian Katar – a tiger knife. The title of the book is reflected in the cover – with the aged postcards the story revolves around shown in the background.”

Fifteen Postcards
JF: The typography is good, and so is the postcard background, but the 2 other visuals are very uncomfortable (i.e. the juxtaposition of sharp objects and eyeballs) and just seem to be floating in space.


L.J. Kane submitted Snatch Girl designed by SelfPubBookCovers/INeedABookCover. “I wanted a cover that conveyed a dark, suspenseful kidnap thriller set on Dartmoor in the UK and this cover from SelfPubBookCovers just leapt out at me. I chose a stylish font in white to contrast with the dark atmosphere behind it, and I believe it works well.”

Snatch Girl
JF: Perfectly adequate.


Lacey Dailey submitted Extraordinary You designed by Tristan Shimmons.

Extraordinary You
JF: Lovely artwork, but the title should stand out more.


Loretta Renouf submitted Her Winter’s Kiss designed by Lorie-Lynn Renouf. “Cover design for this was created with using a background photo given to me by my sister, and i added everything else to it myself.”

Her Winter's Kiss
JF: Unmistakably self-published, and not in a good way. I suggest hiring one of the great designers who show their work here, it really does make a difference to your sales.


Loretta Renouf submitted Hybrid Wars Book 1 designed by Lorie-Lynn Renouf. “This cover was created by me using photographs that i had taken myself, and added the other elements into it.”

Hybrid Wars Book 1
JF: See comment above.


Loretta Renouf submitted Summer’s Heat designed by Lorie-Lynn Renouf. “As with the previous two entries, the background photo came from myself, and added the rest to it afterwards.”

Summer's Heat
JF: See comment above.


Marisa Shor submitted Garden Of Goodbyes designed by Cover Me Darling.

Garden Of Goodbyes
JF: The motif is interesting, but the title is hard to read.


Marisa Shor submitted Missed Connection designed by Cover Me Darling.

Missed Connection
JF: A solid cover in which the title treatment mirrors the idea of the title itself.


Marisa Shor submitted Lucky 13 designed by Cover Me Darling.

Lucky 13
JF: A good layout, attractive image and imaginative typography, but all is being washed out by the low contrast.


Marisa Shor submitted Bound designed by Cover Me Darling.

Bound
JF: Well composed, and I love the tension between the title and the flowers “holding” it.


Mark Dame submitted Dark Ties designed by Damonza.

Dark Ties
JF: A strong cover with menace and many interesting touches. Notice how the branches change from positive images to negative ones.


Marshalee Patterson submitted Predestined Love designed by Yanique Hamilton.

Predestined Love
JF: Awkward and ineffective, and the type is tortured.


Marshalee Patterson submitted The path of the chosen Warriors designed by Yanique Hamilton.

The path of the chosen Warriors
JF: See my comment above, ditto.


Michelle Meraki submitted Twilight of the Empire designed by Michelle Meraki. “Black crystal magic is one of the most dangerous and feared orders of magic in the Empire of Ertera. Sorcerers practising this order of magic can channel their incantations through any object carved from black crystal and have enslaved many to their service by giving them black crystal jewellery.”

Twilight of the Empire
JF: Considering your colorful and interesting description, I wonder why the cover is so static and uninteresting. And the combination of the black and white with color graphics is jarring.


Mike Crowl submitted The Disenchanted Wizard designed by Regan Nicholls.

The Disenchanted Wizard
JF: Clever, with a load of story implication in the three faces.


Natasha Snow submitted The Gaia Protocol designed by Natasha Snow.

The Gaia Protocol
JF: A lovely composition although I wonder about the font choice for the title, which also appears to be blending a bit too much with the background.


Natasha Snow submitted Peter Darling designed by Natasha Snow.

Peter Darling
JF: Another good idea, although I wonder if the figure of the boy and the type in the center aren’t both too small, since they seem to be very subservient to the clouds.


Natasha Snow submitted The House Next Door designed by Natasha Snow.

The House Next Door
JF: Solid genre cover, and the “doubled” image of the woman is very effective. Type design helps to emphasize the genre, too.


Natasha Snow submitted The Island designed by Natasha Snow.

The Island
JF: Adding the sand dollar was a great idea, helping, along with the type that’s integrated with the scene, to set the stage for an interesting read.


Natasha Snow submitted The Gift of Gravity designed by Natasha Snow.

The Gift of Gravity
JF: Here the designer has created an evocative tension between the idea of gravity—pulling down—with the upward gaze of the protagonist. Well done.


Nicole Fitton submitted Forbidden Colours designed by James at GoOnWrite. “A striking black and white image unlike anything else out there at the moment.”

Forbidden Colours
JF: I agree the image is arresting, but when combined with the title’s emphasis on color, it becomes ironic.


Rena Hoberman submitted Remnants of the Erased designed by Rena Hoberman of Cover Quill.

Remnants of the Erased
JF: A well-focused cover, although the type looks a bit attenuated.


Richard Burke submitted Decimation: The Girl Who Survived designed by Michelle N. Arzu. “Decimation is a near future Science Fiction Thriller.”

Decimation: The Girl Who Survived
JF: Some good ideas and interesting type treatment, but the combination of the images has made the large symbol appear to be the woman’s mouth.


Roger B. Burt submitted Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power designed by Laura Ambler. “A core theme is the importance of the movement to empower women. And, of course, central is our Earth Mother Gaia. The cover is to evoke her presence and prominence.”

Gaia's Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power
JF: A strong image that needs much better typography.


Scott Wilcox submitted BARDS OF FANTASIA: A Poem for Britain designed by Magdalena Adic. “For this sci-fi/fantasy story, I made the logo a bit futuristic for the time-travel setup, then added the shield for a hint of the medieval. The painting is by Magdalena Adic, a magical shipwreck scene from about midpoint in the saga. I studied Joel’s past comments closely for font & detail choice.”

BARDS OF FANTASIA: A Poem for Britain
JF: Thanks for being an attentive reader, Scott, but it appears to me that if this cover really communicated its genre you wouldn’t need that big sans serif header up there proclaiming it and you would have cleaned up a busy cover that really needs it.


SE Swapp submitted Clevenger Gold: The True Story of Murder and Unfound Treasure designed by Rob Price. “Thank you for the opportunity to submit my book cover!”

Clevenger Gold: The True Story of Murder and Unfound Treasure
JF: I’m surprised you felt you had to add another noose to the image.


Stacey Coverstone submitted Curse of the Montagues designed by Sheri L. McGathy. “The font and spiraling ribbon used in the title stand out against the otherwise monotone background, complementing each other to beautifully capture the genre and point toward the supernatural story that waits inside.”

Curse of the Montagues
JF: Well, okay.


Stacey Coverstone submitted Lake Tavadora (The Trilogy) designed by Sheri L. McGathy. “The eye is drawn to the lighthouse, seaplane, and boat in this atmospheric cover, causing you to wonder how all of them are related. The shadowed man staring across the lake with his dog on a rickety dock further capture the mystery that lies within the pages.”

Lake Tavadora (The Trilogy)
JF: I can’t see any connection between the almost fluorescent blue type and the background image.


Stephen Parolini submitted Stolen Things designed by Stephen Parolini. “I commissioned a photo shoot with a gifted professional photographer, Kelly Sauer, who provided me with dozens of great cover options. The final image best depicted the tone of the sweet, sad, slightly creepy story.”

Stolen Things
JF: I agree the image is very affecting and could make a great cover, but you would need to hire a designer to put it all together with a type design that actually makes sense.


Sue Copsey submitted The Ghosts of Moonlight Creek designed by James Copsey.

The Ghosts of Moonlight Creek
JF: Some nice creepiness here, I think I would have gone much larger with the title.


Susan Wisnewski submitted Road Trip Revenge designed by Jessica Bell.

Road Trip Revenge
JF: Good mystery cover that promises lots of thrills. Love that raven, too.


T.G. Ayer submitted Blood Magic designed by Eduardo Daniel Priego.

Blood Magic
JF: A well thought out cover that will appeal to fantasy fans. Notice how the top of the cover has both blue and red areas that seem to compete with each other, but as you go lower, the color turns to purple—a combination of the two.


Tamsin Ley submitted The Merman’s Kiss designed by Tamsin Ley. “Finding affordable images of mythical characters can be quite a challenge. I purchased this image from Pickyme.”

The Merman's Kiss
JF: Seems pretty lucky to find this image of a merman. The type needs an upgrade, it’s not helping the cover much.


Tim McConnehey submitted Bassam and the Seven Secret Scrolls designed by christian fuenfhausen. “Bassam is an epic adventure across the silk route.”

Bassam and the Seven Secret Scrolls
JF: A lovely design that shows us the kind of environment you’ll find in the book. Well constructed, with expert type, the only thing I find unusual is the prominence and sheer amount of space given to the series branding ribbon.


Tony Moyle submitted The Limpet Syndrome designed by Lucas Media. “The artwork process was a collaborative one between author and designer. We started off by discussing the themes of the book and general feel that I wanted. The themes of personality and an analysis of how the main character changes through the book gave us the idea of a mosaic broken glass effect.”

The Limpet Syndrome
JF: An intriguing cover that makes you want to look at it more closely, like a visual puzzle. It probably works better as a paperback, because at this size it’s just about impossible to make sense of some of the image pieces or how they relate to the whole.


Towfic Kassis submitted Confessions of a Caped Crusader designed by Towfic Kassis.

Confessions of a Caped Crusader
JF: A strong and arresting image, but the type seems to have received much less emphasis, and the overall lack of contrast makes the effect of the title etc. at the top very muted.


Travon Toussiant submitted The Unexpected designed by Travon Toussiant. “Publshished from CreateSpace.”

The Unexpected


Victoria M. Patton submitted Innocence Taken – Pray He Kills You Quickly designed by Victoria M. Patton. “I don’t like busy covers or crammed covers. I prefer simple and clean. For me, I think the cover should portray the essence of the book. All my covers for this series utilize the same text and colors.”

Innocence Taken - Pray He Kills You Quickly
JF: Victoria, I tend to agree with you, but in this case the title/subtitle element is very weak and isn’t enhancing the effect of the cover, it’s diminishing it.


viel nast submitted SAVAGE SWORDS designed by ANDERSON1974.

SAVAGE SWORDS
JF: Looks more like a sketch for a cover than a cover itself, and the way all that type is squeezed into a narrow black band at the top is, frankly, painful.

Nonfiction Covers


Al Levi submitted The 7-Power Contractor: Run Your Contracting Business With Less Stress and More Success designed by Dane Low at Ebook Launch. “We were looking for a clean, punchy cover with imagery our service contractor audience could quickly connect with. This cover not only has resonated well with readers it also has provided the foundation/inspiration for a new brand identity, including logo, stationery, apparel, website, and more.”

The 7-Power Contractor: Run Your Contracting Business With Less Stress and More Success
JF: A simple but sophisticated cover in which the imagery helps to communicate both the promise of the book and its intended audience.


Andy Brown submitted Warnings Unheeded: Twin Tragedies at Fairchild Air Force Base designed by Andy Brown. “The background is a Medical Record Clinical Resume of a former airman who committed mass murder at an Air Force hospital after his discharg from the military due to mental health reasons. Highlighted in red “We consider this patient dangerous.” is one of several early warnings that went unheeded.”

Warnings Unheeded: Twin Tragedies at Fairchild Air Force Base
JF: But you’re not going to expect us to read that, are you? All that busy-ness in the background does not help communicate, and I’d be surprised if this wasn’t a more effective cover if you just deleted it entirely, or just showed it as a stack of papers.


Cathi Stevenson submitted Leave That Behind designed by Cathi Stevenson. “A simple design on a white background (which I once avoided, but now embrace for its freshness). I don’t use heavy fonts for many of the genres I work with, opting instead to focus on size and contrast for readability.”

Leave That Behind
JF: A very effective cover, and the white background really fits here. The restrained type helps to emphasize the image. Now if you would just move the author’s name up a bit, it would be even better.


donna Stewart submitted Yoga Mama’s Buddha Sandals: Mayans, Zapatistas and Silly Little White Girls designed by donna Stewart.

Yoga Mama's Buddha Sandals: Mayans, Zapatistas and Silly Little White Girls


Jay Perdue submitted Mary not an American woman designed by Jay Perdue.

Mary not an American woman
JF: Got some issues left over from the marriage? This is the kind of cover that the phrase “Over the top” was invented for. And I don’t mean that in a good way.


Lance Pototschnik submitted The Shell of a Person designed by Lance Pototschnik. “This is a memoir about self-discovery, set in the remote, dangerous, and occasionally disgusting environment of a Costa Rican sea turtle conservancy.”

The Shell of a Person
JF: The image is so complex it lacks much impact, and I can’t read the type at the top, so all in all, not so good.


Mercedes Samudio submitted Shame-Proof Parenting: Find your unique parenting voice, feel empowered, and raise whole, healthy children designed by GusTyk (99designs Designer). “Thanks so much for considering my book as a contestant for this award.”

Shame-Proof Parenting: Find your unique parenting voice, feel empowered, and raise whole, healthy children
JF: Attractive, with good typography. Needs a border to display properly on white backgrounds like web pages.


Michael N. Marcus submitted Love For & From My 4-Legged Son: How an ordinary golden retriever became an extraordinary dog designed by Michael N. Marcus. “My dog conveniently had a color-matched tower. Title text, dog’s name and author’s name are in Alegreya, a playful face. The y’s descender looks like dog’s tail. Margins of top lines mimic slant of tower roof—needed lots of adjusting. Most text is set in either of 2 colors matched to sky colors.”

Love For & From My 4-Legged Son: How an ordinary golden retriever became an extraordinary dog
JF: The strong type on this cover really helps, but the image creates a lot of visual confusion, starting with the question why most of it is a picture of a tower? A close up or “portrait” of the dog might have worked better and been a more cohesive overall design. Still, a lovely tribute to a beloved companion.


Nikos Dimitriou submitted traveliving | a romantic & practical guide designed by Nikos Dimitriou.

traveliving | a romantic & practical guide
JF: Type-on-photo cover, and as usual with these covers, the image is much stronger than the type.


Paula Johnson submitted Shake Up Your Thinking, Shape Up Your Business: 68 SharpInsights to Attract Customers and Boost Sales designed by Paula Johnson. “Competitive intelligence expert Seena Sharp sent occasional “SharpInsights” to her email list and often got requests for “all of them.” This book is the result. My goal was to show readers that solving marketing problems is a process.”

Shake Up Your Thinking, Shape Up Your Business: 68 SharpInsights to Attract Customers and Boost Sales
JF: The clean look and crumpled paper “light bulbs” help to sell this title. Not so sure about the red band, and it needs a border to help when on white backgrounds like this one.


Sally Goodenough submitted Hemorrhoids: A Wife’s Story designed by Sally Goodenough. “A lighthearted look at a painful but not too serious illness. My starting point was a brightly coloured cactus image, but it was too in-your-face, so I created this more muted abstract version, although the cactus is still there. I used a spiky informal font (Kefa) for the author and subtitle.”

Hemorrhoids: A Wife's Story
JF: I admire the courage to take on a tough subject, and an abstract approach is probably the right one, but I object to the palette, since everything associated with the disorder is hot, itchy red, and painful.


Tina Birkhoff submitted Married to Fibro designed by Tina Marie Birkhoff. “Fibromyalgia is a painful disorder for over 5 million Americans. Family and friends are often lost helping or relating to one with this debilitating pain. The cover reflects the feeling of water, looking gentle it can invoke feelings of drowning, dark fear within and helplessness.”

Married to Fibro
JF: In this case the typography is good, because it stands out and expresses the pain of this disease, but I fail to see any connection with the placid water.


Tom Pappalardo submitted One More Cup Of Coffee designed by Standard Design. “A jolt of caffeine on a regional coffee tour.”

One More Cup Of Coffee
JF: A really interesting, amusing, and apt graphic approach makes this cover stand out. Too bad the designer didn’t adjust it for ebook use (paperback original) so we could read the subtitle which has totally disappeared at this size.


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 19, 2017. Deadline for submissions will be May 31, 2017. Don’t miss it! Here are all the links you’ll need:

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16 Comments

  1. Jade

    Thank you for your comment about the Bus Blogger, Joel! I had so much fun doing the illustration. Now I definitely have to go back and see what comes from removing that white box :)

    Reply
  2. Kim Rutter

    Hi Joel,

    You commented on my cover for the Banker’s Wives:
    “Could be a strong photo, but the designer has no idea what to do with it.” Thanks for the honest opinion! Any tips on what I should do with the photo?
    Kim

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Kim, unless you plan to study graphic design, I suggest you give the photo to a cover designer and see what they can come up with. And thanks for participating.

      Reply
    • Adira August

      If you’re like me you don’t have money for a pro or years to spend in school. What’s wrong with your photo is it’s too dark, too “muddy” and doesn’t make a statement. You want to put it in an editing program (I use PhotoScape and Pxlr, both free, pretty powerful and don’t take years to learn.) You want to mess with the contrast, make it brighter at the top. Make it dramatic.

      Your name is too small. People look at ebook covers at 60x90px according to Mr. Friedlander. Your name and title need to be legible at that size.

      Go look at pro covers on Amazon. 1/3 for the Title, 1/3 for the author. Don’t be afraid to put words over the image. There are a couple of design forums where people post stuff and those who do have education comment.

      It just takes a ton of work. Dedicate an hour a day, or a few hours a week just learning this if you have to do it yourself. It took me a year to figure out how to make a pretty decent cover and I’m redesigning all my titles this summer.

      Good luck!

      Reply
  3. Adira August

    You gave Plague of the Shattered a big win. But these are eBook covers. In your article “15 Ebook Covers: Success and Failure in the Kindle Store,” you say those covers must work at 60x90px.

    This one you gave the top prize to, is visual glop at 60×90.

    Maybe not “judge a cover by the cover,” which is what you are doing now. How about: Judge a cover as an eBook, instead?

    Reply
  4. Veronica Dale

    I submitted a cover for Dark Twin on February 9, and haven’t seen it anywhere. Was it not selected for comment, or did I just miss it?

    Reply
    • Shelley Sturgeon

      Veronica,

      I’ve emailed you to explain why your submission wasn’t included.

      Shelley

      Reply
  5. D. Wallace Peach

    So happy to see the book covers for The Rose Shield series here. Deranged Doctor Design was on time, professional, and these covers were perfect for my books on the first try.

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Great choice on your part, it’s a series that really stands out for the way all the covers communicate to readers.

      Reply
  6. James Egan

    Flattered that Plague of the Shattered was chosen as this month’s winner. As always, it’s great to read your feedback on all the entries. Thanks for keeping the contest going. I look forward to it every month.

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Thanks for entering, James, and for the visual inspiration your covers give to the rest of us.

      Reply
  7. Nancy O'Neill

    While you always seem to comment on white backgrounds needing a border of some sort (as you did again on certain books for this month), for some reason you didn’t seem to mind the white edges on “Marching on Together.” Even though it has some horizontal elements that run off the edges, it still feels like it needs a little tweaking especially with the top and bottom angled lined with the little men walking. Those lines look like they’re floating in space so it feels very awkward (at least to me). And why is the top guy walking in the middle of the line instead of on the line like the rest are? I’m sure there was some deliberate thought to that but just something I noticed.

    I always look forward to this post and share it as it’s a great learning tool. :) Thanks for taking the time to do the contest.

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Hi Nancy,

      I felt there were enough color elements to pretty well define the “edges” of the Marching cover, but a border is usually a good idea. Thanks for your feedback, and for following this feature so closely.

      Reply
  8. Michael W. Perry

    I agree with your first-place entry. I’ve not read it, but the cover for Plague of the Shattered probably does convey the book’s plot and that’s important. Like “Plague” and “Shattered,” it conveys a sense of disaster. Titles, covers and content should share a common feel.

    But oddly enough, I also like “22” for its clean visuals, even though its prettiness contrasts with its murderous theme. Perhaps it’s the placement of that innocent butterfly alongside a gun that creates a sense of mystery.

    I would give that author, and others, a word of advice. Before settling on a title, check out what search results Amazon gives for your idea. Searching for “22”—there seems to be no subtitle, turns up 100 pages of hits, and this “22” isn’t on the critical first two pages. Any book that includes “22” anywhere, including the publication date, is likely to beat it out in the list. That is especially true if that other author is is a big seller such as Joseph Heller (Catch-22) or Stephen King (Dark Tower came out on “2011-06-22).

    Even a slight tweak can make a big difference. My most recent book, Embarrass Less, is not only unique enough to hit to top of Amazon’s search results. I later discovered I’d made a lucky pick. If I’d made the title “Less Embarrassing,” a more pedantic description of its theme, the Google search results would have been endless before my book came up. By making it an imperative and less common expression, I moved it up the search results. And that’s another suggestion. Try your title out in Google too. Ideally, none of the hits it draws will be that popular. If you make your book title the name of a rock group, however obscure, that rock group will dominate search results, burying your book far down.

    The best titles are short, catchy, memorable and unique. That’s hard to do, but possible. When I start a book, I always open up a document in Scrivener called “Title” and into it I place any idea for the title and subtitle the instant it comes to me. By the time I finish the book, I may have a dozen or more combinations to select from. And the one I choose is typically not my first idea.

    Last comes my usual complaint. Many of the other covers would be better if someone had screamed out to their designer, “Don’t touch that saturation control!” The use of too much or too little color saturation always strikes me cheap. It suggests that no one involved in the process knew how to handle colors. They didn’t intend to make the color that bright or that muted. They just did not know what they were doing. That may not be true, but impressions matter. If it looks cheap, people will think it is cheap.

    –Michael W. Perry, Inkling Books.

    Reply
    • Christopher McPherson

      Mr. Perry: Thank you for your kind words about the cover for my new novel “22.” Matt is an incredibly talented designer who has won this competition twice before. I’m glad you noticed the prettiness / murderous contrast as that was entirely deliberate. Lastly, I would be careful concluding that the butterfly is “innocent.” Once he flaps his wings, anything can happen. :-)

      Reply
      • Joel Friedlander

        Thanks for entering, Christopher, always happy to see Matt’s work here.

        Reply

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