e-Book Cover Design Awards, March 2012

POSTED ON Apr 15, 2012

Joel Friedlander

Written by Joel Friedlander

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

Here’s what we received:
54 covers in the Fiction category
13 covers in the Nonfiction category

Award Winners and Listing

I’ve added comments (JF: ) to many of the entries, but not all. Thanks to everyone who participated. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did. Please leave a comment to let me know what you think, too.

Now, without any further ado, here are the winners of this month’s e-Book Cover Design Award.

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

Ou Tao submitted EneME designed by Pere Ibañez.

ebook cover designJF: This is for a book of photographs by Pere Ibañez in a square format, accurately portrayed by the shape of the cover. A very effective and startling use of one of the artist’s surreal images to produce a cover that would stop most browsers. Combined with custom lettering that emphasizes the unique title of the book, the entire cover becomes an expression of the artist’s work, and a clear winner.

e-Book Cover Design Award Winner for March 2012 in Fiction

Andy Fielding submitted blackbird has spoken by kate wickers designed by Andy Fielding. “When Phoebe’s husband announces that he would like them to start a family she isn’t at all sure that she feels the same. This is a bitter sweet comedy drama of complex relationships, life-changing encounters and the realisation that being a mother doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing to every woman.

ebook cover design
JF: Fielding, the winner of our first eBook Cover Design Award, strikes again. His ability to imply layers of meaning with simple elements really sets his covers apart. Against the backdrop of photographic ebook covers, part of the appeal is the vitality of a hand-wrought design.

Fiction Covers

Martina Munzittu submitted A Deal with a Stranger designed by Brother.

A Deal with a Stranger
JF: So many covers we see in these monthly competitions—like this one—would actually be decent covers if they only had decent typography. Designing with type is the skill that most eludes amateur designers, and it’s also the quickest way you can distinguish your covers from others.

Cristina Ciurli submitted A Quiet Resignation designed by Cristina Ciurli (concept designer), Pablo Donato (3D artist).

A Quiet Resignation

Gregory Mahan submitted A Touch of Magic designed by Alexander Nanitchkov. “I worked very closely with Alexander for several months to make sure my cover was exactly the way I wanted, supplying google-searched images of forestry, poses, fantastical creatures, etc, to help convey to him the vision in my head so that he could commit it to paper. I think he did a fantastic job!”

A Touch of Magic
JF: It is a marvelous illustration which, unfortunately, is almost completely lost at this size. I had to go look up the full-size cover to even see the illustration at all. A better solution might have been to pick out one detail from the illustration and make the type much larger.

Lon Dee submitted Amira, Immortal Daughter From Penglai designed by Ying Ding. “I wanted this book to be sort of like a book version of Hayao Miyazaki’s anime films, or at least for people to feel drawn into a world like Miyazaki does with his films. So when it came time to design the cover, I wanted to hire a cover artist with anime/manga experience. I found a wonderful young artist, Ying Ding, who did a beautiful job. I originally wanted a fight scene on the cover, but Ms. Ding reminded me that the primary audience for this book is young adult female readers. As I’ve shown this cover to that audience, I’ve had amazing reactions to how wonderful it looks.”

Amira, Immortal Daughter From Penglai

Vincent Nicandro submitted An Exploration of Sanity designed by Vincent Nicandro. “This was more of a dark collection of short stories, so I tried to show the bleakness of it all while incorporating some symbols in the stories.”

An Exploration of Sanity
JF: Bleak, yes, but it doesn’t work well, sacrificing legibility and coherence. See the cover immediately following for a much better solution to a similar problem.

R.S. Guthrie submitted Black Beast designed by R.S. Guthrie.

Black Beast

Karla Telega submitted Box of Rocks designed by Jesus Pedroza “El Kartun”. “El Kartun did a remarkable job on the cover art for Box of Rocks. I would love to see him receive the recognition he deserves.”

Box of Rocks

Nic Silver submitted Cara designed by nico.

JF: This cover is gorgeous, but that chopped-off type at the top really bothers me.

Felicity submitted Charlie and Isabella Meet Jacob designed by Joyeeta Neogi. “Joyeeta Neogi is the illustrator”

Charlie and Isabella Meet Jacob

Mike Reeves-McMillan submitted City of Masks designed by Mike Reeves-McMillan. “I found the beautiful cover image on DeviantArt – it’s by an Italian woman named Donia, which is appropriate, as the book is set in a mad version of Shakespeare’s Italy (complete with twins).”

City of Masks
JF: I love the mask and the elegance of this cover, but wonder how it would look with an opulent texture in the background to unite the elements.

Artemis Greenleaf submitted Confessions of a Troll designed by Alicia Richardson.

Confessions of a Troll

Remy Francis submitted Critical Mass designed by Remy Francis.

Critical Mass

Susan Russo Anderson submitted Death of a Serpent (A Serafina Florio Mystery) designed by Derek Murphy. “This is a new cover for the first book in a series of historical mysteries set in Sicily. I decided to have it redesigned when readers found the first interesting but difficult to understand. The designer of the new cover, Derek Murphy, was absolutely fab to work with. He is designing the back and spine for the print version of Death of a Serpent and two more covers for subsequent books in the series.”

Death of a Serpent (A Serafina Florio Mystery)
JF: Really good, and adept use of the space in this small format. Can’t wait to see the others!

Stuart Peel submitted Designer Devil designed by Stuart Peel.

Designer Devil
JF: If you were going for creepy, you hit the bullseye.

Alison DeLuca submitted Devil’s Kitchen designed by Lisa Daly.

Devil's Kitchen

Ryan submitted Dick Cheney Saves Paris: a personal and political madcap sci-fi meta-anti- novel designed by Paul Forristal. “Paul’s playful pulp cover cleverly suggests the sense of time-travel typical in the novel’s nature.”

Dick Cheney Saves Paris: a personal and political madcap sci-fi meta-anti- novel
JF: Love this cover, with its 50’s aesthetic, but it really worked better on the paperback.

Kathleen Bjoran submitted Dream Walkers designed by Kathleen Bjoran. “This cover is made up of elements from the book. It was originally done in pen and ink then reproduced in Illustrator.”

Dream Walkers

Kay Reindl submitted Folie A Deux designed by Kay Reindl.

Folie A Deux
JF: No, I don’t think the little radioactive woman figure was a good idea.

Angela Oltmann submitted Friends From Damascus designed by Angela Oltmann.

Friends From Damascus
JF: This cover is halfway there. The palette is pretty subdued for this type of book, and the title typography is much weaker than the rest of the cover.

Guido Henkel submitted Fu Man Chu’s Vampire designed by Thu-Lieu Pham. “Attempting to get away from the more obvious cover ideas that spring to mind with a story called “Fu Man Chu’s Vampire,” here we tried to create something that is decidedly an atmospheric and non-gory horror cover, while weaving into the a uniquely oriental flair. Note also that the author name is small but because of the use of this particular spaced font, remains legible even in smaller sizes, giving the cover balance without intruding.”

Fu Man Chu's Vampire
JF: Great job, Guido, very atmospheric and well controlled. Would have liked to see the title a little bigger.

Zoe Brooks submitted Girl in the Glass designed by John L Wilkinson. “I wanted a cover that worked as a thumbnail and in greyscale and which reflected the novel. John gave me all that and more: it’s an image that makes you look twice – the way the desert landscape (dune and sky) merges with the image of the girl. I can’t wait to his cover for my next book”

Girl in the Glass
JF: Another example of a striking image combined with weak typography.

Rachel Morgan submitted Guardian (Creepy Hollow, #1) designed by Rachel Morgan.

Guardian (Creepy Hollow, #1)
JF: I love the look, but the type isn’t working for me.

Vince Parrillo submitted Guardians of the Gate

Guardians of the Gate

DJ Hazard submitted Heater Case J designed by DJ Hazard. “I just really enjoy designing the covers for my books and I’m trying to improve each time. I try to get the casual book browser to stop long enough and say, “What the…” and check the blurb, which is, in this case: “By day, he’s one of the most famous actors in the world. By night, he’s… well, he’s one of the most famous actors in the world. But a sacred vow and a dead cat also transformed him into one of the most feared avengers ever known. Donning body armor and a mask made of junk parts, he is a one-man dynamo against crime known only as Heater Case J.””

Heater Case J
JF: Just keep going, DJ, this is brutally effective even if it’s a bit dark.

Elizabeth McCoy submitted Herb-Witch designed by Art by Sarah Cloutier, Words by me. “I’m not entirely happy with the font I used; I was doing a tightrope between signaling that this is a fantasy romance (kinda), and not covering up too much of Ms. Cloutier’s *awesome* watercolor. I used the Mac app “Art Text 2″ for the text; that’s actually three layers of the title words, off-set slightly, and a wheat-stalk for the hyphen that’s been mutated with Art Text 2.”

JF: I can see the work that went into it, but this kind of type doesn’t work well when it’s fighting with the background. Try a panel next time, and put the type on that.

Eathen White submitted Iniquity of Fathers designed by Eathen White.

Iniquity of Fathers

R.S. Guthrie submitted LOST designed by R.S. Guthrie.

JF: This cover holds together really well, and is much more memorable than the very similar cover immediately above. But the black title is getting “lost” in a bad way against the dark blue sky.

Savannah Chase submitted Lovers Moan designed by Insatiable Fantasty Designer Inc.

Lovers Moan

Steph Avery Reynolds submitted Our Trespasses designed by The Reynolds. “My husband trained as a graphic designer and I’m an artist as well as a writer, so we had great fun designing the cover for Our Trespasses – something I would have missed out on with a traditional publisher (so old hat!). Love the website btw, I do like a nice font!”

Our Trespasses
JF: Well, you’ve stumped the panel! I love the sensitive typography and sophisticated colors, but what the heck is the illustration? That big blue blob? Anybody? A burst baloon? Swimmer’s cap? Rorschach? I looked at the big version, too, but no luck. Please leave a note in the comments, thanks. (BTW the paperback version of this cover does not have the red shape, so this version brands it as ebook-specific.)

Ben Galley submitted Pale Kings designed by Ben Galley/Mikael Westman.

Pale Kings
JF: Beautiful cover. Although you lose a bit of legibility with the ornate swashes on the title, you do gain something stylistic, too.

Jamie Salisbury submitted Perpetual Love designed by Sable Grey.

Perpetual Love
JF: There are a lot of things to like about this cover, but one thing that keeps it from being more unified is that each of the four lines of type is getting a different treatment.

Remy Francis submitted Planeshifters designed by Remy Francis.


I.G. Frederick submitted Playing With Dolls designed by Nyla Alisia.

Playing With Dolls

Chellesie B. Dancer submitted Power Play designed by Lynn Taylor. “I think Lynn did a wonderful job with this cover for my new erotic romance! She took my idea of his red silk tie as a symbol of the power struggle between the hero and heroine, and really tied it in to the story. (I couldn’t resist the pun!)”

Power Play
JF: This is the third set of similar covers this month that, just due to alphabetizing the entries, ended up next to each other. Did you catch the others? Here, this cover presents many of the same elements of the one immediately above, but treats them in a graphically interesting and effective way. Well done.

Karen Mueller Bryson submitted Retro Geeks designed by Tony Byrson.

Retro Geeks

Adria Amos submitted Shadow Puppets designed by Adria Amos. “The cover of this chapbook was inspired by the title poem. I began with a photograph and used editing software to create a painted effect. The two shadows were created with different light sources during the shoot. It was important for the cover to reflect both the darker poems and the lighter, more playful ones. While the overall mood of the cover is dark, I think the off-camera light sources provide a sense of hope.”

Shadow Puppets
JF: There’s some nice atmosphere here but, overall, the fuzzy look and weak title typography hold it back.

Norwood Holland submitted Sleepless Nights: The Drew Smith Series designed by Eric Thomas.

Sleepless Nights: The Drew Smith Series

Susan Cummings submitted The Cure designed by Susan Cummings. “A viral apocalyptic story…”

The Cure

Rodney Evans submitted The Fart Who Came to Dinner designed by Parrott, Wein, Evans.

The Fart Who Came to Dinner
JF: Easily wins the title of the month. This strong design is somewhat undone by the unreadably small type, especially odd since it seems to be an ebook-only title.

Richard Sutton submitted The Gatekeepers designed by RS Communications. “A sequel to The Red Gate, it targets readers who enjoy historical fiction as well as fantasy set in Ireland. The title refers to the sheep as well as to the mysteries revealed inside. Sheep, you may well ask? They do tend to move in unison, lock-step and with a flock/group mentality, but are easily frightened. Maybe their anointed position as gatekeepers is more tenuous than we all thought?”

The Gatekeepers

CK Collins submitted The Godling: A Novel of Masalay designed by Christina Elmore. “Christina is part of Folded Story, an independent publishing project in Portland, OR.”

The Godling: A Novel of Masalay
JF: A lovely cover with some small detail that might be lost when viewed as a thumbnail. I especially liked the careful color choices here.

Kit Foster submitted The Grip designed by Kit Foster. “This cover for ‘The Grip’ by Horror author Griffin Hayes tries to capture the loneliness of the protagonist, who is stranded on a distant uninhabited planet; along with his fear that his only companion there may not be quite human.”

The Grip
JF: Another wonderful cover from designer Kit Foster, who shows how to use some of the Photoshop effects that often doom amateur designers. And notice that all the type on this cover is the same style, helping to hold the whole thing together.

Michael Mullin submitted The Plight and Plot of Princess Penny designed by John Skewes. “A YA alternative fairy tale. Thanks for checking it out! Michael Mullin”

The Plight and Plot of Princess Penny
JF: Great illustrated cover with terrific color choices. Makes you smile just to look at it.

Lon Dee submitted The Power of Powers, Volume One of the Huaxia Journals designed by Lon Dee (author). “I designed this cover myself, and wanted to mimic some of the older Buddhist literature I came across while living in East Asia, which often showed powerful images. “The Power of Powers” refers to a magical shard of stone, with ancient characters written on it. It may look like I just Photoshopped some characters on a rock, but it wasn’t nearly that easy. To create the cover, I stole some rocks from the nearby national forest – oops, don’t print that. Then I had my native-Chinese wife help draw the characters on paper in a very ancient script style. I used a carbide-tipped scriber to carve the characters into the stone, which took a long time – and gave me very sore hands. The background clouds were from a sunset photo taken by my son from the roof of our house. The computer artwork was done using Pixelmator and an image of the rock, with the lightning being computer-generated.”

The Power of Powers, Volume One of the Huaxia Journals
JF: Wow. Amazing effort that went into the artwork for this cover, and just out of curiosity, why not just Photoshop the writing onto the rock? It’s a lot faster. Unfortunately, all that work did not add up to a good ebook cover, although this is a difficult concept to carry off well.

Mary Vensel White submitted The Qualities of Wood designed by .

The Qualities of Wood

Rachel Tsoumbakos submitted The Ring of Lost Souls designed by Ceri Clark.

The Ring of Lost Souls
JF: A strong, simple and evocative cover that’s ideally suited for an ebook. I’m certain this cover would be even better if the designer had only one of the “O”s as a ring, not both, and it should be the one in “Lost.”

Melissa Luznicky Garrett submitted The Spirit Keeper designed by Damonza.

The Spirit Keeper
JF: That’s two brunettes staring at us this month. Hey, it works, although the very colorful flames here are a bit of a mystery.

Melinda Young submitted The Time Prize designed by Melinda Young. “Intriguing artwork from a stock photo source creates a highly graphic allusion to time travel.”

The Time Prize
JF: Great use of stock photography to create a simple yet interesting cover.

Eathen White submitted The Vanguard Society – Revised Edition designed by Eathen White.

The Vanguard Society - Revised Edition

Jeff DeCola submitted The Whip designed by Jeffry A. DeCola. “Author: Karen Kondazian Cover Design: Jeffry A. DeCola”

The Whip
JF: A beautiful cover that suffers from reduction from the paperback original. Love the unique and distinctive logo look for the title.

Andy Conway submitted Train Can’t Bring Me Home designed by Simon Moody. “This is a title that has been available as an ebook for some time, but when I recently sorted out the paperback version with Createspace, I took the chance to completely redesign the cover.”

Train Can't Bring Me Home

JL Oakley submitted Tree Soldier designed by Jeff Fielder. “The photo for the cover was taken in 1940. A real CCC boy.”

Tree Soldier
JF: With such a strong photo this cover should have been much more heroic but, as it is, it’s hopelessly confused. And what’s that big type ornament doing there?

Nonfiction Covers

Felipe Adan Lerma submitted Everyday Inspirations, Photo-Poems Vol 2 designed by Felipe Adan Lerma. “All design and photography work by the author.”

Everyday Inspirations, Photo-Poems Vol 2

Matt Harrison submitted Guide to Learning Iteration and Generators in Python designed by Matt Harrison. “My 3rd attempt at nonfiction cover design. The small font hasn’t deterred buyers yet.”

Guide to Learning Iteration and Generators in Python
JF: You just need to get into the typography more, Matt, to make these covers really stand out.

Alina Oswald submitted Journeys Through Darkness: A Biography designed by Alina Oswald. “Alina Oswald is a writer/photographer who designs book covers for herself and other authors. Her new book is Journeys Through Darkness, a Biography telling the story of AIDS through the story of AIDS warrior, award-winning legally blind photographer, Kurt Weston. Journeys includes several photographs by Kurt Weston.”

Journeys Through Darkness: A Biography
JF: This image might have made a good cover, but the terrible and illegible typography does it in.

Tim submitted Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds designed by Tim Kordik Graphic Design.

Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds
JF: An excellent and strong nonfiction cover that touches all the bases. My only quibble is with the itsy bitsy type. If you can’t read it at this size, why leave it on?

Linton Robinson submitted My Funny Valentine designed by Linton Robinson. “Photograph in my backyard with $50 pocket camera. No toys were injured in shooting this cover.”

My Funny Valentine
JF: Cute idea, needs a border to keep it from bleeding onto the page.

Blaine Moore submitted My Name is Big designed by Blaine Moore. “The original cover had the author in small print at the top and the rest of the cover was the title, with the last line being BIG and having the dog leaning in against the letter G. It made the G a little difficult to read, however, and was also a “scarier” picture of the dog so we went with one where the dog was obviously happy and not threatening at all. Note that the book is actually non-fiction, although it reads as though it were fiction and is formatted in poetry as prose.”

My Name is Big

Valerie Hamer submitted Picky, Sticky or Just Plain Icky? A Blind Date Conversation: South Korea designed by Valerie Hamer % Nancy Cavanaugh. “found the base picture online (free of copyright). Nancy fixed it up with the book information and made it look so good.”

Picky, Sticky or Just Plain Icky? A Blind Date Conversation: South Korea
JF: The “South Korea” threw me for a moment, but I have to admit, this image will stop people, and that’s half the battle.

Paul Rice submitted Pimp ur Blog Episode One: Boost Search Results with Social Bookmarking designed by Frederick Mozart Rice. “We plan to keep the pimp hat as is, and vary the cover background color for each of the half-dozen episodes.”

Pimp ur Blog Episode One: Boost Search Results with Social Bookmarking
JF: I like the concept and improving the typography can make it even better.

jose maria cal submitted Saltwater Fishing Lures Guide designed by jose maria cal.

Saltwater Fishing Lures Guide

Maheeb Fouda submitted The Nile is a Road designed by Maheeb Fouda.

The Nile is a Road
JF: This is an example of poor type placement, unless the girl on the cover is meant to be looking at the author’s name.

Kit Foster submitted Unleash Your Potential designed by Kit Foster. “This is a design for a confidence building book by Albert Akin Olaoye.”

Unleash Your Potential

Becky submitted Why Natural Matters plus 8 Simple & Positive Steps to Health designed by Jo Ruthven. “Apple eating girl is my daughter. She’d just picked it from one of our trees. Love how the colours of her and the apple define the rest of the cover.”

Why Natural Matters plus 8 Simple & Positive Steps to Health
JF: The charming elements of this cover don’t quite come together. The title needs to be much stronger, and I’m not sure the texture in the background is really adding anything. But who doesn’t like a cute kid? Can’t go wrong that way.

Well, that’s it for this month. I hope you found it interesting, and let other people interested in self-publishing know about the Awards. —Use the share buttons below to Tweet it, Share it on Facebook, Plus-1 it on Google+, Link to it! The next issue is May 13, 2012 and the deadline for submissions will be April 30, 2012. Don’t miss it! Here are all the links you’ll need:

The original announcement post
E-book Cover Design Awards web page
Submit your e-book cover here
Follow @JFBookman on Twitter for news about the E-book Cover Design Awards
Subscribe to The Book Designer Blog

Joel Friedlander

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Joel Friedlander

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