e-Book Cover Design Awards, July 2015

by | Aug 17, 2015

Welcome to the e-Book Cover Design Awards. This edition is for submissions during July, 2015.

This month we received:

105 covers in the Fiction category
8 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 July 2015 in Fiction

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

ebook cover design
ebook design
JF: Here the designer has integrated art and title into one whole. The screen on the busted phone says “A Comedy” and the background is heavily textured with realistic stains. Can’t think of an improvement for this sly cover for a “darkly comic” novel about the tech industry.

e-Book Cover Design Award Winner for July 2015 in Nonfiction

Dane Low submitted Things I Have Posted on Facebook that Have Ticked Off My Friends designed by Ebook Launch.

ebook design
ebook design

JF: Instantly attracts attention and delights you as you read through it. By that time, you’re hooked, and we can’t ask any more of an ebook cover, can we?

Fiction Covers

Andrea Luquesi Scott submitted Science Fiction Consortium designed by A.L. Scott, Ami Hart. “Ami Hart provided the ‘floating girl’ that she created via CGI. I, A.L. Scott, took it and created the accompanying imagery in Photoshop for the front cover, spine and back cover. I also wrote the back cover blurb.”

Science Fiction Consortium
JF: Strongly oriented to the sci-fi crowd, although I find the visuals unnecessarily confusing.

Audrey E King submitted Love As It Seems designed by Valerie Bellamy.

Love As It Seems
JF: Direct, with a clever romantic tone.

Aurora Springer submitted Dragons of Vkani designed by Aurora Springer. “Science fiction”

Dragons of Vkani
JF: An interesting visual, but the typography demonstrates that it’s not so easy to learn. For instance, there’s no good reason that there’s more space between the lines of the title, and between the title and subtitle.

Austin J. Bailey submitted The Mage and the Magpie designed by James T. Egan. “I came to James looking for a cover for a middle-grade fantasy novel that would be sophisticated enough to appeal to adults as well. He was very careful to pay homage to the plot by including several elements. For example, transitioning to another world and the interplay of light and dark.”

The Mage and the Magpie
JF: Well, James is a masterful designer, as you can see in this cover with its luscious background, evocative imagery, and amazing detail throughout.

Beverly Nault submitted The Kaleidoscope designed by Diana Carlile. “Major events occur underneath the oak tree, as symbolized by the tree of life. The cityscape represents the Los Angeles and Hollywood setting, and the background evokes the colors of both the mysterious kaleidoscope, and the diverse cast of characters.”

The Kaleidoscope
JF: Nice concept but the background pattern may be too strong and it’s drawing the eye up and away from the “action.”

C.A.A. Allen submitted The Cave Maze: Wizard Warrior Quest designed by Darko “Paganus” Tomic. “I designed a mock up and Paganus nailed it! The hag in the background is an amazingly scary creation from him. I was also blown away by the details. The weasel on the shapely girls shoulder, and the dread-locked thief turning up a bottle of whiskey.”

The Cave Maze: Wizard Warrior Quest
JF: Solid and attractive illustration style combined with an interesting composition.

CB Archer submitted Breakers of the Code designed by CB Archer. “I designed the cover for my novel that debuts not only myself, but an entire new genre of fiction: Elfrotica. The book doesn’t take itself seriously – neither does the cover. This teeters into ‘no inappropriate subjects’ but I have been a fan of these awards for so long that I just had submit.”

Breakers of the Code
JF: I take it the “Annals of Gentalia” is a not-too-subtle reference to genitalia? It’s amusing, and you appear to have the niche to yourself, so go for it.

Charles Naton submitted Section 12 designed by Adrijus Guscia.

Section 12
JF: A powerful image that needs better type.

Christopher Geoffrey McPherson submitted Haunting at Ocean House designed by Matt Hinrichs. ““Haunting at Ocean House,” the fifth and final James Murray Mystery, is set in 1930s Los Angeles. I asked my “go to” cover designer Matt Hinrichs to create a design that evokes the covers of pulp magazines of the period while staying true to the design of the first four books in the series.”

Haunting at Ocean House
JF: Neat and effective, although I don’t see much of the “pulp” look.

Cindy Roland Anderson submitted Catching Caytie designed by Casey Harbertson. “The designer used my original photograph to create a cover that reflects elements of the story, and lets my readers know the book is a contemporary romance.”

Catching Caytie
JF: It definitely says contemporary romance, although I find the title treatment overworked.

Colette Kebell submitted Blue and Green Should Never Be Seen! (Or so Mother Says) designed by Lizzie Gardiner. “These cover designs have been admired by most people who have seen and read these books to date. Lizzie did a wonderful job with a relatively small brief. I hope that you like these submissions, which I have yet to tell her about.”

Blue and Green Should Never Be Seen! (Or so Mother Says)
JF: They are charming but the overall effect is weak because the woman, who we could interact with, is pushed too far away in favor of the less interesting environmental material.

Colette Kebell submitted The Retail Therapist designed by Lizzie Gardiner.

The Retail Therapist

Dane Low submitted Ashley Templeton Is Ruining My Life designed by Ebook Launch.

Ashley Templeton Is Ruining My Life
JF: A playful and very effective cover for this middle grade novel, and I like the way the designer has made the kids anonymous.

Dane Low submitted Rough & Beautiful: Very Short Romance Stories designed by Ebook Launch.

Rough & Beautiful: Very Short Romance Stories
JF: Artful, and although all that stuff might seem distracting, it’s actually all arranged to focus our attention on the book title and subtitle.

Dane Low submitted Time’s Cold Embrace designed by Ebook Launch.

Times Cold Embrace
JF: Not sure I “get” this one, I find it visually confusing.

Dane Low submitted Treaty of Versailles, The Power of Love designed by Ebook Launch.

Treaty of Versailles, The Power of Love
JF: Love the overall tone and tremendous storytelling of this cover, but the beefcake looks out of place here.

Dane Low submitted Walder The Penguin / The Great Out There designed by Ebook Launch.

Walder The Penguin / The Great Out There
JF: Completely delightful, and Walder does seem to be an on intriguing journey on his little piece of ice. Wonder what he’ll find?

Danielle Thorne submitted Proper Attire designed by RomCon. “My eBook is an adventure that takes a hero and heroine into different situations that require different standards of dress. The title is a play on the plot. This is a proper romance so a classic cover represents that.”

Proper Attire
JF: The illustration nicely highlights the woman’s dress although the type could add more than it does.

David Vos submitted Elementaro designed by David Vos. “In the book “Elementaro”, it lays heavily on the idea of nature verses the man-made, hence the natural theme surrounding a rusty gear, a symbolism for the constant struggle between man’s dominance and natures fury.”

JF: Most book covers work best when they attempt to communicate one cohesive message, and this is not the way to do that.

Dionne Aboulelea submitted The Bomber designed by Dionne Abouelela. “This book is a military thriller by Australian author, David O’Sullivan. The author wanted a modern and art deco approach. We made a few covers for him as options.”

The Bomber
JF: Hard to see any connection between the artwork and what’s implied by the title.

Emalynne Wilder submitted Infinite Dolls designed by Emalynne Wilder.

Infinite Dolls
JF: Unnecessarily fussy type makes this cover hard to read.

Eric Henderson submitted Stranded in Sunshine designed by Ken Adams. “This book is categorized as “satire” at online retailers. We wanted a bold, simple design that makes you look twice.”

Stranded in Sunshine
JF: Well, we know something odd is going on. Very reminiscent of covers from the 1950s or 1960s.

Gabrielle Prendergast submitted Cheap As Beasts designed by Gabrielle Prendergast. “The author had an affinity for pulpy detective covers from the 1950s. And he wanted a rhino head. What could I do?”

Cheap As Beasts
JF: Roger. Who knows, maybe that incongruous rhino head will attract attention?

Gabrielle Prendergast submitted Combustion designed by Gabrielle Prendergast. “The publisher, Samhain, wanted a strong woman and an eye catching steampunk look. I had fun with it.”

JF: It definitely says “steampunk” and the title treatment is fun and apropos.

Gabrielle Prendergast submitted Conquests designed by Gabrielle Prendergast.

JF: This cover is well put together, but I’m really not a fan of the type effects used on the title. If the image is doing its job, do you really need it?

Gabrielle Prendergast submitted Fracture designed by Gabrielle Prendergast. “The author had an image she wanted to use but wasn’t sure how to make it work. I went for something simple and stark to reflect the dark themes.”

JF: It works.

Gabrielle Prendergast submitted The Magpie Masquerade designed by Gabrielle Prendergast. “The author wanted to hearken back to the sweet Regency romances of Georgette Heyer and use a Regency painting. I updated the concept, partially inspired by one of your recent winning covers.”

The Magpie Masquerade

Geoff Palmer submitted Telling Stories designed by Donaghue. “Telling Stories is a darkly comic novel about a shy, mild-mannered character who constantly rewrites his life from the perspective of a wise-cracking, anarchic alter ego.”

Telling Stories
JF: I find the combination of images odd and off-putting. They really don’t go together very well.

Harvey Click submitted Demon Frenzy designed by Keith Draws.

Demon Frenzy
JF: That’s some backhand she has, hope she didn’t dislocate her shoulder with that move.

Harvey Click submitted Demon Mania designed by Keith Draws.

Demon Mania
JF: On the other hand, the series branding in the title treatment does work.

Harvey Click submitted Magic Times designed by Keith Draws.

Magic Times
JF: Very comic book-y, don’t know if that’s what you were going for.

Harvey Click submitted The House of Worms designed by Keith Draws.

The House of Worms
JF: Lots of exciting gore, but the type is all very weak for this type of book.

hesham alkarghaly submitted Septan Phase: Pointless Wisdom Before Virgin Minds designed by Hisho Gaited.

Septan Phase: Pointless Wisdom Before Virgin Minds
JF: Hard to know what to say about this cover that’s pretty murky and inscrutable. The book, “A surreal, erotic, dark and metaphysical piece of literature,” seems like it deserves something more sophisticated and communicative.

Iain Pattison submitted Fiddle of the Sphinx and other Quintessentially Quirky Tales designed by Jean Hill. “An eye-catching and amusing cover that makes the reader smile and immediately signals the comedy nature of the story collection. It’s designed to appeal to casual browsers. It is the first in the QQ Tales series and sets the template for all future covers, an important part of the QQ brand building.”

Fiddle of the Sphinx and other Quintessentially Quirky Tales
JF: Top contender for title of the month. I like the playful illustration but overall the composition lacks a strong focal point.

Iola Reneau submitted Mattie’s Legacy designed by Iola Reneau.

Mattie's Legacy
JF: Although simple, this is effective, a very nice touch.

Jack Reyn submitted Suspension designed by Jack Reyn. “”Suspension” is a short sci-fi story. I put together a cover that I hoped would convey the genre and tone as straightforwardly as possible.”

JF: I think you’ve done exactly that, although the cover could use some additional contrast since it’s not benefitting from the washed-out areas.

James Alexander submitted The White Clover Project: Phase 1 designed by James Alexander. “I wanted to give away the most important detail about the first phase of the white clover project without revealing too much on the cover. Also, this novelette contains two parallel stories that mirror each other. It begins with one story and transitions to the other story later in the book.”

The White Clover Project: Phase 1
JF: Cleverness aside, any cover that frames and focuses our attention on a huge swath of dead blackness can’t be considered a success.

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

JF: A strong cover with beautiful textures and atmosphere, a deft touch with typography, it draws us in.

James Egan submitted The Pale Waters designed by James T. Egan of Bookfly Design.

The Pale Waters
JF: What’s fascinating here is the use of the flourishes that are taking over the cover. These ornaments are usually relegated to decorative duty, but on this cover they are a force, apparently threatening or imprisoning the central figure.

Jan Thompson submitted Know You More designed by Jan Thompson. “Know You More is the first book in a multiethnic 7-book Savannah Sweethearts series set in coastal Savannah and the beach town of Tybee Island, both in Georgia. I wanted the covers of this Christian romance series to reflect the international new south while evoking the idea of being by the ocean.”

Know You More
JF: I think all your covers have a brightness that’s really attractive. You might think about darkening part of the background behind the titles, it would allow you to treat them more elegantly.

Jan Thompson submitted Draw You Near designed by Jan Thompson. “Draw You Near is book 3 in the 7-book Savannah Sweethearts series set in the southern coastal towns of Savannah and Tybee Island. As with the other book covers in this multiethnic series, the Draw You Near cover design is meant to be clean and wholesome for my contemporary Christian romance readers.”

Draw You Near

Jan Thompson submitted Share with Me designed by Jan Thompson. “Share with Me is the first book in the 7-novel Seaside Chapel series chronicling the lives of 7 single men who attend a church on the beach. I wanted the cover to reflect the coastal setting of the series but do so in a clean and wholesome way for my contemporary Christian romance readers.”

Share with Me
JF: This one’s almost like a yummy piece of candy.

Jane Ries submitted Brittany and the Big Stinky Bug designed by Jane E. Ries. “The book cover is designed and illustrated by the author. The cover is purposely typographic with no image of Brittany or the Big Stinky Bug (except for ironic little buzzing insects). The cover compliments the surprises in the story that follows.”

Brittany and the Big Stinky Bug
JF: Maybe it’s just me, but with that title I want a big stinky bug on that cover.

Jean M. LOMINY submitted Policeman Legros designed by Vonda Howard. “I wanted a cover that emphasize the main character without having the distraction of man’s face. I prefer simplicity that says it all.”

Policeman Legros
JF: A neat piece of work that gets the job done. The aggressive shield is, as was intended, the most powerful element.

Jeanne Curtin submitted Brave designed by Lilli Shacklett. “A spray can is what jumpstarts this whole story. And as the story unfolds, and the protagonist is shaken, bravery must come from within. My cover concept was enhanced by Crystal Owens, who created the spray can, and Lilli Shacklett, the graphic designer who added her spin on the design.”

JF: Although I admire the drawing style, it’s hard to comprehend, from the can that looks like a flattish flask to the odd combination of what appears to be blood drops mingling with red leaves??

Jennifer Ellis submitted Confessions of a Failed Environmentalist designed by Andrew Brown, Design for Writers. “Confessions of a Failed Environmentalist is a quirky romantic comedy with serious themes. I asked for whimsical but not too cute and am really happy with what I got.”

Confessions of a Failed Environmentalist
JF: The lighthearted approach and well organized typography are very appealing.

Jeramy Goble submitted Games of Astraeus, book two of the Akallian Tales designed by Jeramy Goble. “Background art, (not including design or typography), by Jonathan Powell”

Games of Astraeus, book two of the Akallian Tales
JF: The background is interesting. The typography, by putting the title and author’s name on the same level of importance, will work if the author is well known to his fans.

John Monk submitted Thief’s Odyssey designed by Lindy Moone. “I have no special remarks, other than to say I love this cover. :)”

Thief's Odyssey
JF: I’m afraid I don’t share your love. I find the visual very confusing and distracting, with various elements moving in what looks like random directions, and the typography is pretty primitive.

John Mullen submitted Digital Dick designed by Mark Alan Clements. “I was looking for something that captured what the book is about–a mystery with a sleuth that is a funky-looking, artificial intelligence. I think Mark Clements’ design showing my lead character, Dick, (the funky-looking AI) having the shadow of Sherlock Holmes does the job brilliantly.”

Digital Dick
JF: Potentially a great concept, but it would have to be executed at a much higher level of visual sophistication to really be effective. And ditch that monospaced font, it’s not helping.

Joseph Naus submitted Straight Pepper Diet designed by Allie Paull. “Thank you for doing this. I’ve been looking at the covers on your contest for a long time, and they range from damn good to hilariously home made. It’s really a good place to get a feel for the spectrum that exists.”

Straight Pepper Diet
JF: A really good design that needs more contrast to really shine, and I would start with the overly attenuated font used for the title.

K.D. Harp submitted RESCUE ME designed by K.D. Harp. “SWAT romantic suspense #2/series. Blend/overlay of elements to reflect multiple emotions & threats to a couple who meet in a hurricane. Glass subtitling represents subtleties of faith, disappears on icon size, “revealed” when clicked for full description, an ‘Easter egg’ for the interested.”

JF: Impossible to make out what’s happening here, and not much reason to look deeper. The type looks to be screaming “uncle,” so please stop torturing it.

Kara Lockley submitted Alinora designed by Kara Lockley.

JF: Although I’m not a fan of big black empty backgrounds the author here was wise to keep it simple and the overall effect is good. Nice font choice for the title, too.

Katrina Brown submitted Night Market – An Anthology designed by Hannah Charlton. “Hannah Charlton is a member of our Taipei-based writing group. She kindly offered to do the cover and inside-book artwork for us. The Chinese signs are translations of the ten story titles. Some of the characters in the stories appear in the night market scene.”

Night Market - An Anthology
JF: That would raise the question of whether the book is intended for the English or the Chinese market, since English-speakers won’t know what the banners represent. Overall the cover uses a refreshing illustration style but could be faulted for its very weak title treatment.

Ken Mooney submitted The Hades Contract designed by Design For Writers. “Godhead (2013) was nominated before, and I wanted to get in touch with the cover for it’s long-delayed sequel. Being a direct sequel, a lot of the design elements are taken from the cover of Godhead, giving it a shiny, dark update for its sequel.”

The Hades Contract
JF: I remember Godhead and this cover continues the series nicely, and the very carefully arranged type aids to its air of elegance.

Kim DDD submitted Island Heat designed by Marushka from DDD. “Book cover design for Romance with Time travel element”

Island Heat
JF: Combining romance and sci-fi elements can be tricky, but I don’t think this cover does that particularly well, and you would have to use your imagination to see any “time travel” cues here.

Kim DDD submitted Miracle on Wolf Hollow Lane designed by Kitten from DDD. “Book cover design for Miracle on Wolf Hollow Lane Adventure, survival tale about one dog’s quest, targeting dog lovers”

Miracle on Wolf Hollow Lane
JF: I’m a sucker for dog stories, and that’s a good looking shepherd, but did you really need those gratuitous flourishes down in the corners?

Kim DDD submitted Seven Days designed by Marushka from DDD. “Book cover design for Science Fiction Romance”

Seven Days
JF: This one works much better than the one above in the same series, and part of that is the more cohesive way color has been used for the author/title combination.

Kim DDD submitted Deadly Baggage designed by Marushka from DDD. “Book cover design for Cozy Mystery Poppy Pepper’s Series.”

Deadly Baggage
JF: This is an interesting approach for a subgenre usually ruled by amateur women solving mysteries within a small community. I would guess the cartoon look is intended to appeal to a younger female audience. In all four of these covers the bright and bubbly heroine is holding the magnifying glass simply to signal the reader that “it’s a mystery!” There’s almost an anime look to them, and I would be interested in whether they succeed in the market.

Kim DDD submitted Sunbaked Snowbird designed by Marushka from DDD. “Book cover design for Cozy Mystery Poppy Pepper’s Series.”

Sunbaked Snowbird

Kim DDD submitted Santa’s Brush with Death designed by Marushka from DDD. “Book cover design for Cozy Mystery An Annie Addison Cozy Mystery Series. The overall branding and cover style is composed to follow previous series ( Poppy Pepper)”

Santa's Brush with Death

Kim DDD submitted Shear Madness designed by Marushka from DDD. “Book cover design for Cozy Mystery An Annie Addison Cozy Mystery Series. The overall branding and cover style is composed to follow previous series ( Poppy Pepper)”

Shear Madness

Kim DDD submitted Elemental Damage designed by Kitten from DDD. “Book cover design for Urban YA fantasy (book #2)”

Elemental Damage
JF: A strong set of covers for this series. Combining a central figure with enough environmental details to give us an idea of where the story takes place works very well, aided by the clever round light element that helps to isolate the figure and also focuses our attention right where it belongs.

Kim DDD submitted The Fairy Godfather designed by Marushka from DDD. “Book cover design for Urban YA fantasy (book #3)”

The Fairy Godfather

Kim Drew Wright submitted The Strangeness of Men designed by James T. Egan. “I asked James for an eclectic, witty, literary look for my collection of short stories and prose poetry. He nailed it. Each image pertains to a specific story. It could be chaotic with so many images – but he blended them in a way and color scheme that not only works but intrigues! I love it.”

The Strangeness of Men
JF: A strong concept with risks, since the background appears at first to be one image, but it won’t yield to an effort to comprehend it, since it’s actually 3 or 4 separate images, and that can be confusing.

Kim Kash submitted Ocean City Cover-up designed by J. Caleb Design. “This is the second novel in a funny, pulpy mystery series. The cover captures the energy and sexiness of the book, and it includes design elements that link it to the first title in the series.”

Ocean City Cover-up
JF: I like the fun, sexy parts, but the title is drab where it should be loud.

Kindra Sowder submitted Follow the Screams: The Executioner Trilogy Book 2 designed by Lisa Vasquez.

Follow the Screams: The Executioner Trilogy Book 2
JF: Makes little sense, including why you would use a delicate font in the midst of all those “industrial” effects (over)used on the title?

Kyle Fleishman submitted Drink Dirt Eat Stone designed by Grady @ Damonza.

Drink Dirt Eat Stone
JF: Aggressive, almost brutal typography works here to draw us into the long road leading to some kind of serious action.

Lana Pecherczyk submitted Hunting for Witches designed by Lana Pecherczyk. “This Urban Fantasy mimics a scene in the climax of the story. It’s not as dark as the usual dark urban fantasy novels you might find. I wonder if it should conform to the usual dark cover with a kick ass female lead, or is it okay being different.”

Hunting for Witches
JF: Keep being different, it will take you far, but you have to start off with a good understanding of what your readers want and look for. This cover has lots of appeal, and some interesting story details alluded to by the artwork, but don’t let them get distracting.

Laurel Wanrow submitted The Unraveling, Volume One of The Luminated Threads designed by Craig Shields.

The Unraveling, Volume One of The Luminated Threads
JF: Doesn’t tie its various pieces together, and ends up with a cover that’s disjointed.

Leona Silberberg submitted Every Word an Arrow designed by Leona Silberberg. “The book is about a woman who comes through an epic divorce with the help of her visionary dreams – and this image is from one of those dreams.”

Every Word an Arrow
JF: An amateurish cover for a book that seems to be anything but that.

Lilo Abernathy submitted The Light Who Binds designed by Federico Musetti. “Federico Musetti did the amazing cover art. His portfolio is truly an adventure to explore. I, the author, did the typography.”

The Light Who Binds
JF: A pretty exciting scene, but I have no idea what that wolf(?) is doing in there.

Lita Locke submitted Wraith designed by Andrew Brown at Design For Writers. “Thanks to my cover designer Andrew for such an appropriately ethereal cover, and also for helping me to develop the book series brand visually.”

JF: Impressive. The color scheme alone would make this cover stand out, and that’s not saying anything about the riveting stare of the woman.

Logan Keys submitted Gods of Anthem designed by John Gibson.

Gods of Anthem
JF: I don’t know what those little figures are doing, but it’s still exciting and sexy.

M.J. Roberts submitted Not A Date designed by MJ Roberts.

Not A Date
JF: The author, I sense, knows exactly what their audience is looking for. This straightforward cover clearly makes a promise about the story inside.

Magne Hovden submitted The Prime Minister designed by Magne Hovden. “Attempted to relay the core of the author’s literary intentions with as much simplicity as possible.”

The Prime Minister
JF: Indeed. The simplicity is what makes it such a deadly effective cover. Keeping the type classical helps, and we’re forced to focus on the implied commentary of a brain as a compass. Great stuff.

Mala Spina submitted Finnicella e l’Unguento del Diavolo designed by Mala Spina. “Very first time for me to design a book cover for an comedy erotic and historical theme. Original digital illustration made for the book.”

Finnicella e l'Unguento del Diavolo
JF: I think you’ve hit the nail of the comic-erotic-historic niche right on the head.

Megan Goodenough submitted A Company of Roses designed by John Chandler. “I’m sending lots of people to my book page, but not getting a lot of sales, so I would like to know whether to change the cover.”

A Company of Roses
JF: The cover, although well designed and executed, may not work as a concept, i.e. showing the key amidst a landscape. I assume your story is driven by the characters and how they confront the situations that occur in the book. If you want to experiment, focus in on the main character and her transformative moment on your next cover and see if that makes a difference.

Micah Brock submitted The Legend of Misan Driste designed by Leo Alban. “(I am the co-author of this submission, the publisher, and I also own all the necessary rights to the submitted image). The is the new cover for the book, “The Legend of Misan Driste”.”

The Legend of Misan Driste
JF: The type isn’t strong enough to be confined to a small space, and it’s difficult to ask browsers to work out what is going on with all these characters.

michael rausch submitted Risking Exposure designed by Michael Rausch. “The cover represents a disabled girl standing up to the ever-watchful eye of the Nazi Party.”

Risking Exposure
JF: The idea gets across but the execution seems awkward.

Munroe Cunningham submitted A Walk to the Abbey designed by Munroe Cunningham.

A Walk to the Abbey
JF: Simplicity is a gift that keeps on giving, as on this luxurious cover that should have been submitted with a gentle border around it so it doesn’t “bleed” onto the white page.

Paul Ikin submitted The Other Side of Eve designed by Paul Ikin.

The Other Side of Eve
JF: Well done, but a rather rigid and stark choice for a coming of age fantasy adventure.

Regina Clarke submitted The Magic Hour designed by Regina Clarke. “I wanted to give the sense of dusk and night at once, and a feeling of mystery, with a suggestion of fantasy. Not a clue how to shape it. Then got a Twitter message with a tiny piece of this photo, no source. I tracked down the original and found the source! Got permission to use it on my cover.”

The Magic Hour
JF: Delightful.

Remi Peter Baronas submitted Highway of Spirits designed by Jun Ares. “The cover truly captures the mood of oriental mystery of my book.”

Highway of Spirits
JF: Fantastic artwork, handled perfectly to create an exciting, aspirational cover that demands we step into the world of the book.

Sam Neumann submitted The Call of the Mountain designed by Sam Neumann.

The Call of the Mountain
JF: How could it be better? The balance of a confident hand at work everywhere.

Sean Kavanagh submitted Fiction on Foreign Planets designed by Richard Ellis.

Fiction on Foreign Planets
JF: Solid genre cover.

Shawn Kobb submitted City of Ghosts designed by Kit Foster. “As book one in my new mystery series, I wanted the cover to help set the tone that the city of Vienna itself was just as much a character as anyone else on the page.”

City of Ghosts
JF: Beautifully done, and the atmosphere of the city couldn’t be clearer.

Shea Zellweger submitted Untitled: A Detective Novel designed by Shea Zellweger. “Detective novel set in the future. Main character is fond of “old fashioned” things like type writers. Antagonist sends letters with sealing wax.”

Untitled: A Detective Novel
JF: Good intentions gone a bit murky, and it really would be nice to be able to read the title.

Stacy Claflin submitted Seaside Heartbeats designed by DIY Book Covers.

Seaside Heartbeats
JF: Does the job.

Stephanie Cain submitted Stormseer designed by Nicole Cardiff.

JF: Attractive artwork, type needs more contrast to stay in balance.

Susan Illene submitted Stalked by Flames designed by Claudia at Phatpuppy Art & Jeff Brown Graphics. “Jeff Brown Graphics custom designed the dragon and background for this cover. Teresa Yeh handled the model photography, ensuring the model would line up with the background. Claudia at Phatpuppy Art put it all together.”

Stalked by Flames
JF: It’s pretty exciting, and that’s good!

T. Thorn Coyle submitted Like Water designed by T. Thorn Coyle.

Like Water
JF: Despite the allusion to the title, this cover might have been better off pairing images from the streets of Oakland, where it takes place, with the intense gaze in the center.

T.R Whittier submitted Fat Ballet designed by The MFish.

Fat Ballet
JF: Love it, a graphic that says everything at once, and a memorable title too.

Tamara Rogers submitted FlashDogs: Solstice Dark designed by Tamara Rogers. “”FlashDogs: Solstice Dark” is the partner anthology to “FlashDogs: Solstice Light” – two books bringing you the second instalment of FlashDogs flash fiction. The covers reflect each other, and slot together when next to each other.”

FlashDogs: Solstice Dark
JF: Artistic composition and good branding, but I’m not getting much drama from the cover.

Tamian Wood submitted Madison’s Song designed by Tamian Wood. “Quote from the Author – “The eye-catching cover for Madison’s Song cleverly combines disparate elements of suspense, fantasy, character, and romance to create a lovely, haunting effect. This cover really is worth a thousand words!” — Christine Amsden — Author — Madison’s Song”

Madison's Song
JF: The dreaded “pasted on” look isn’t disguised by the drab palette, and the title is disappearing into the background.

Tammy Seidick submitted Nowhere to Hide (Delos Series Book 1) designed by Tammy Seidick. “Thanks for reviewing!”

Nowhere to Hide (Delos Series Book 1)
JF: A strong cover that knows what appeals to readers, with great type choices and clever details that add to the overall effect. The man is attractive without taking his shirt off, and it looks an exciting story.

Teddi Black submitted American Fairy Tales designed by Teddi Black.

American Fairy Tales
JF: I like the way the design reminds us of Baum’s time, but would have liked to see one central focus for the cover of what looks to be an interesting book.

Timothy L. Cerepaka submitted The Mage’s Grave designed by Elaina Lee. “First book in my most recent fantasy series.”

The Mage's Grave
JF: They make a great series of books, with all the elements you need to connect with your audience and let them know the kind of tale they’ll find inside. Some of the titles are getting lost against the background, but I’m quibbling.

Timothy L. Cerepaka submitted The Mage’s Limits designed by Elaine Lee. “Second book in my recent fantasy series.”

The Mage's Limits

Timothy L. Cerepaka submitted The Mage’s Sea designed by Elaina Lee. “Third book in my recent fantasy series.”

The Mage's Sea

Timothy L. Cerepaka submitted The Mage’s Ghost designed by Elaina Lee. “Fourth and final book in my recent fantasy series.”

The Mage's Ghost

Tracy Tomkowiak submitted Screwballs & Short Hops: Four Classic Base-Ball Stories designed by Tracy Tomkowiak.

Screwballs & Short Hops: Four Classic Base-Ball Stories
JF: Recognizably from a whole series of books on baseball, and this one is just as good at selling itself to fans.

Valerie Comer submitted Sweet Serenade designed by Hanna at Book Cover Bakery. “I’m thrilled with this third cover in my Riverbend romance series, and how the series branding is working out with the hand-holding couple, series header/footer waves, and the hand-lettered title.”

Sweet Serenade
JF: I agree, everything comes together with beautiful delicacy and hinting at lots of story. A real winner.

Wesley Thomas submitted Nightmare Fuel: The Ultimate Collection Of Short Horror Tales designed by Sajjad. “I asked for something terrifying and mysterious, and my incredible cover designer delivered! I have used this designer three times and each time he gives me incredible covers.”

Nightmare Fuel: The Ultimate Collection Of Short Horror Tales
JF: Terrifying and mysterious, yes.

Yelle Hughes submitted Eros the Aegean Chronicles designed by Yelle Hughes. “I entered my first novel TRITON and got some great advice and used it for my second, EROS.”

Eros the Aegean Chronicles
JF: This is classy and cool. The mysterious face in the background is a nice detail, wish I could see the central character’s face because it would clue me into what’s going on here.

Nonfiction Covers

Dane Low submitted YOU DON’T KNOW HOW OLD YOU ARE UNTIL YOU FALL DOWN designed by Ebook Launch.

JF: Here the same designer uses a similar technique to produce a cover in a different genre.

Gail Brenner submitted The End of Self-Help: Discovering Peace and Happiness Right at the Heart of Your Messy, Scary, Brilliant Life designed by Thomas McGee. “Thomas was a delight to work with. He took the colors and look and feel from my website and incorporated them into the cover. I wanted something clean that would present well as a thumbnail, communicating warmth, welcoming, softness, and accessibility.”

The End of Self-Help: Discovering Peace and Happiness Right at the Heart of Your Messy, Scary, Brilliant Life
JF: Perfectly positioned and beautifully executed, although for ebook use the important subtitle should be enlarged.

Idav Kelly submitted Religion: The Ultimate STD? designed by Idav Kelly. “Originally, a print version wasn’t even planned for this book, so I designed the cover for Leviak with an e-book in mind.”

Religion: The Ultimate STD?
JF: Not sure why if it was planned for an ebook the type is too small to read and the title is placed exactly where it’s obscured by the DNA model. Is this book about DNA?

Monika Kanokova submitted This Year Will Be Different: The insightful guide to becoming a freelancer designed by Diana Ovezea. “This Year Will Be Different is a book for and about entrepreneurial women; a practical guide for everyone who wants to start their own business or become a freelancer.”

This Year Will Be Different: The insightful guide to becoming a freelancer
JF: Clever and as effective as visual branding as it is as a book cover.

Renee Li submitted Peace of the Heart designed by FixNColor Studios. “The cover design portrays the feelings of expansion, freedom and lightness which are all aspects of the energy of peace.”

Peace of the Heart

Ruth Johnston submitted Re-Modeling the Mind: Personality in Balance designed by Streetlight Graphics. “My book about human personality is both abstract and personable. It needed a cover that represented its key ideas, while also conveying both intellectual challenge and approachability. Glendon Haddix at Streetlight Graphics nailed it. All images are photographs, a perfect mix of idea and reality.”

Re-Modeling the Mind: Personality in Balance
JF: I love the spaciousness of this cover and its invitation to dive into the possible. Beautifully done, and the title type is the perfect balance.

Vicki Panagotacos submitted Gaining Traction: Starting Over After the Death of Your Life Partner designed by Sladjana Vasic. “Elance book designers submitted foreboding images, often incorporating a light at the end of a dark tunnel. Then I found Sladjana on your awards site. Sladjana patiently indulged my desire for a whimsical watercolor showing movement from loss to rebirth.”

Gaining Traction: Starting Over After the Death of Your Life Partner
JF: Nicely done, and the strong colors and graphics really help, I think that was a good direction to go with this book. I’d like to see this with a border of some kind so it looks like a cover on the page.

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 September 21, 2015. Deadline for submissions will be August 31, 2015. Don’t miss it! Here are all the links you’ll need:

The original announcement post
E-book Cover Design Awards web page
Click here to submit your e-book cover
Follow @JFBookman on Twitter for news about the E-book Cover Design Awards
Check out past e-Book Cover Design award winners on Pinterest
Subscribe to The Book Designer Blog
Badge design by Derek Murphy

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  1. Mala Spina

    Thank you very much, Joel! :-*
    Every time I send you a bookcover I feel like I was back at school at exam period! So much to learn!

    • Joel Friedlander

      I really enjoyed the “comic book” look of your cover, Mala, it stands out in the crowd.

  2. Jan Hurst-Nicholson

    Thanks once again for an interesting selection of covers and for your valuable comments.
    I like a book cover to give me an instant snapshot of the story, something like a movie poster (setting, period, MC, genre etc) so when I scroll through the books I can quickly dismiss anything that’s obviously not in the genres I read, and click on a story that appeals to me. For this reason I doubt whether I would click on a book cover that is just text, especially if it’s difficult to read in thumbnail. While the winning entry is good for its artistic merit I wonder if it is reader click-bait, or perhaps readers will be intrigued to know what the title says :)

    • Joel Friedlander

      Jan, thanks for the input. All text covers are actually very common, especially for nonfiction books, and there have been numerous best sellers of this kind. A recent one I enjoyed was Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise, an all text cover that perfectly captures the concept of the book.

  3. Kelly Washington

    Way cool – my book made the list – thanks for the fun feedback, Joel.

    James T. Egan, you’re a rock star, dude!


  4. Tammy Seidick

    Thanks for the gold star recognition, Joel! Quite a few lovely covers in this bunch — I especially liked The Strangeness of Men. Great texture and visual interest.

  5. Chajm

    “Treaty of Versailles, The Power of Love” – for real? A naked guy and the gate of Auschwitz beneath?
    In my opinion you can’t use this iconographic picture like any other picture “about the war”, especially in a “romance” context.

  6. James T. Egan

    Psyched to see Hardup won the fiction prize for this month. That was a fun project to work on, especially putting together the scene within the phone. Thanks, Joel, for the great feedback on all the covers!

    • Joel Friedlander

      James, the whole way the phone was integrated into the design, including the cracked faceplate, was really one of the things that made this cover stand out. Thanks for participating, and keep sending in your covers, love to see them every month.

  7. CB Archer

    Always great to see the covers out there and read your advice!

    I am so excited that my silhouette elfbutt made it through the naughty filters here and my cover was allowed up! I have been reading these awards for almost a year now and was overjoyed to see my cover in the list of covers this month! (Sort of a personal goal really)

    Thanks Joel!

    • Joel Friedlander

      CB, we don’t generally eliminate covers because they show a bit of elfbutt, and I enjoyed the playful style of your cover.

  8. Dane

    Awesome! Excited to receive the non-fiction award this month :D Thanks again for taking the time to review each cover submission Joel.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Thanks for participating, Dane, always interested to see your latest covers.

  9. Michael W. Perry

    I’m surprised at the number of these covers that have titles that are difficult to read due to:

    Poor contrasting colors
    Exotic/frilly font choice
    Small font size

    If that’s the current fad, it’s one that I won’t be following.

    Always test your covers for legibility and attractiveness in the 1″ x 2″ size of Amazon search results. A cover that looks bad there may never get a second chance.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Good advice, Michael. We see these illegible or hard to read covers month after month.

    • Harald Johnson

      Yep. I’m always reminding folks to review their cover designs at thumbnail size (~100-150 pixels tall). That’s how most readers will see them.

      JOEL: great site and service you’re providing here!

  10. Bridget McKenna

    The stars are shining again this month. Dane Low, James Egan, Kit Foster, etc. always have something new to teach me. I particularly like the way Dane Low uses type to lead the viewer’s eye to the gentle visual humor on You Don’t Know How Old You Are…

    On the author/designer side, I can’t take my eyes off Sam Neumann’s cover for The Call of the Mountain. Subtle in all the best ways without sacrificing clarity. And some (subtly) dazzling typography to boot.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Thanks, Bridget. I also enjoyed the humor on Dane’s cover, it’s good to see some lighthearted covers once in a while.

  11. Patsy Trench

    What a fabulous idea. It gives us writers a chance to scroll through and work out what we think looks good, and why. Your comments too are an education though I don’t always agree with them. For instance I thought the non fiction winner was really hard to read. Particularly liked the plainer ones, especially for ‘love as it seems’, ‘A Walk to the Abbey’ and ‘City of Ghosts’. It’s also given me some designers to approach for the cover of my own impending book. Thank you so much for this.



  1. Book Cover Bakery » I Got a Gold Star! - […] Comer submitted the cover design I did for Sweet Serenade to The Book Designer’s monthly e-book cover awards for July and…
  2. e-Book Cover Design Awards, July 2015 — T... - […] e-Book Cover Design Awards, July 2015 including James T. Egan, Dane Low, Damonza and many more  […]

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