e-Book Cover Design Awards, September 2012

by | Oct 15, 2012

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

Here’s what we received:
86 covers in the Fiction category
15 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 September 2012 in Fiction

Christopher Geoffrey McPherson submitted Sarah & Gerald designed by Matt Hinrichs. “”Sarah & Gerald” is a novel about a different kind of romance in Paris in the 1920s. It sports another fantastic cover by designer Matt Hinrichs who did the illustrations and design work.”
ebook cover design
JF: I love the designer’s audacity in putting together these patterns and somehow creating an effect in which it all make sense. Both the illustrations and the typography allude to the period in which the book is set, and just for fun notice the “curvature” of the book at the “spine,” alluding to a physical book. Charming and adept.

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

Kit Foster submitted The Tao of Dating designed by Kit Foster.

ebook cover design

JF: Here Kit Foster brings some of the same elements of design from fiction covers to this dynamic nonfiction book. Strong typography, interesting textures, outstanding legibility and active colors make this a real winner.

Fiction Covers

Matthew Thayer submitted 30,000 B.C. Chronicles: Bordeaux designed by Darko Tomic. “I was looking for a graphic artist who could create original artwork for my book series set in 30,000 B.C., and found the perfect person in Darko Tomic. I challenged Tomic to place readers back in time, to make them ask “What happens next?” It was a process of less is more as we started with something complicated and pared it down to a single mammoth reflected in a swamp at sunset. Is the beast dangerous? Is it contemplating a charge? The cover leaves it up to the reader to find out. Since it is the first book in the 30,000 B.C. Chronicles, it was important to establish the fonts and style to be used throughout the series. Tomic was instrumental in creating an overall design that is not only marketable, but will carry over well from book to book. Tomic also did a back cover painting of a Neanderthal clan gathered around a fire, as well as pen and ink drawings for each of the book’s chapter headings.”

30,000 B.C. Chronicles: Bordeaux
JF: A beautiful job too, and I like the careful and distinctive typography, although it looks like you might want to bump up the size on the type at the bottom of the cover a bit.

Libby Young submitted A Backward Blessing designed by . “The book is about an adoption scam with children disappearing in Cape Town.”

A Backward Blessing
JF: I’ve never been a fan of running type in different directions on a cover when there’s no clear design reason to do so, and it weakens this cover.

Jim Martin submitted A Madman’s Song designed by Jim Martin.

A Madman's Song
JF: Nice job, just the right tone for this genre, despite the dark red author’s name against a black background. Well conceived and executed.

Lizbeth Wright submitted A Sense of Light or Darkness designed by Lizbeth Wright. “This is my first attempt at a book cover. Thanks!”

A Sense of Light or Darkness
JF: An interesting concept, but the typography is much too weak to connect the two halves of this cover design.

Clayton Smith submitted Acceptance designed by Clayton Smith. “”Acceptance” is by Constance Daley. Form submitted by designer.”

JF: I got a little vertigo here until I realized the model was actually lying on the floor when this shot was taken, and the almost unreadable type doesn’t help.

Anne E. Johnson submitted Aliens & Weird Stuff 2 designed by Anne E. Johnson.

Aliens & Weird Stuff 2

Elizabeth McCoy submitted All That Glitters designed by Elizabeth McCoy/Sarah Cloutier. “For the cover of the third in this world (hopefully fairly stand-alone from the original duology), I went back to the same artist as the first and second — and I tried to blow the title up as big as I could without drowning the image. (I was going to go with a frame and cropping — but I’m just too in love with how well the artist portrays the world.) While it doesn’t work perfectly at Amazon “Also Bought” thumbnail size, it does well at the next size up.”

All That Glitters
JF: That “Also Bought…” size is very important, since it’s Amazon’s way of introducing you to new readers, so I would put a lot of weight on it. Here, what’s creating problems is the title typography which, on a complex drawing like this is way too fussy and really lacks contrast with the background.

Lise McClendon submitted All Your Pretty Dreams designed by Lise McC. “Approximately my 4th cover, pre-release. I asked my blog readers for advice for the first three, and got varying opinions. Still not sure it conveys the right stuff…?”

All Your Pretty Dreams
JF: Well, everything here is focusing attention on the hand at the center of the cover. If that’s what you intended, it’s working.

Pennie E. Pyle submitted Angel of Vengeance designed by Pennie E.. Pyle. “This was done in Photoshop with elements all of which I own. The girl is actually my daughter.”

Angel of Vengeance

Sarah Billington submitted Ba(n)d Romance designed by Billington Media.

Ba(n)d Romance
JF: Nice, high-energy photo combined with very weak typography that’s hard to “get” and with distracting and unnecessary effects.

Carl Grimsman submitted Barbara Reilly designed by Cover concept by the author, illustration by Alexy Aparin, typography by Ron Eddy. “I wanted something magical with a bit of a Disney effect. I worked up some sketches and a hand-drawn typeface. The pros rendered it, surpassing my vision.”

Barbara Reilly
JF: Well done, and the “magical” element is quite strong.

Glen Cadigan submitted Bedlam & Belfry, Intergalactic Attorneys at Law designed by Glen Cadigan. “Easy to read from a mile off. Design is consistent for each book in the series, differing only in color.”

Bedlam & Belfry, Intergalactic Attorneys at Law
JF: Unfortunately, this cover defies the number one rule of cover design because it looks nothing like what you expect a hilarious sci fi novel to look and gives no indication of what kind of book is inside.

J Smith submitted Behold This Night designed by J Smith. “Vampire Romance genre trilogy – Book 3. Orange/Red Fire background and lion statue as the plot rises but with a slim rainbow of hope for the romance. High contrast statue image carried with other covers to project starkness purpose good/evil, love/hate, life/death. Common author font and layout used in the series.”

Behold This Night
JF: Consistent, genre-appropriate and readable designs (see the 2 following also) make these covers stand out.

J Smith submitted One Night Burns designed by J Smith. “Vampire Romance genre trilogy. Green, tree, sunlight used as background as this is the series beginning (before all the running and madness starts). Statue of a girl used as reference to main character POV. High contrast statue image used to project starkness. Common author font and layout used for the rest of the series. Book title font went through many revisions, crowd sourcing votes, and debating still. Swirly script styles are more genre targeted but difficult to read. Any suggestions?”

One Night Burns

J Smith submitted The Night Discovered designed by J Smith. “Vampire Romance genre trilogy – Book 2. Stormy Blue background as the fickle plot seems against the protagonists. Flying statue for motion, rising action. High contrast statue image used to project starkness and match other series books. Common author font and layout used in the series.”

The Night Discovered

Clare Harris submitted Blood Kind: An ESL Easy Read designed by Cory Clubb (Go Bold Designs).

Blood Kind: An ESL Easy Read

Rob Vitaro submitted By the Light of the Moons designed by Rob Vitaro. “When I knew I would be indie publishing, I also knew I wanted to make the cover myself. I had a very specific image in mind, an enormous and unusual tree in the deep blue moonlight of 3 moons. Thanks to Ben Earwicker’s original photo “NZ Trees 2″ (https://www.garrisonphoto.org) and an online tutorial (https://vimeo.com/2893492), I was able to create exactly what I was looking for.”

By the Light of the Moons
JF: Nice job, Rob, and it shows how limiting your palette can be a big help in focusing the reader’s attention.

Joanne Phillips submitted Can’t Live Without designed by Chris Howard.

Can't Live Without

Kit Foster submitted Comrade Fox designed by Kit Foster. “This is a redesign I did for Scottish author Stewart Hennessey for Comrade Fox, his epic comedy about the Russian revolution.”

Comrade Fox
JF: Fantastic job, Kit, a really fun cover that’s almost irresistible.

Molly Adams submitted Country Living designed by Erin Kelly.

Country Living

Nicola Marsh submitted Crazy Love designed by Heather Howland.

Crazy Love
JF: Cute and genre-specific, this really works.

elizabeth cage submitted Crimson Kisses designed by Klaus Hartleben. “This is our first project together and first ever kindle cover design for Klaus. A learning experience for both of us!”

Crimson Kisses
JF: Beware the dark red type against the black background. (Sound familiar?)

Tony McFadden submitted Daly Battles: The Fall of Pyongyang designed by Tony McFadden.

Daly Battles: The Fall of Pyongyang

Rita Toews submitted Dire Straits: A Trooper’s Tale designed by Rita Toews.

Dire Straits: A Trooper's Tale
JF: Another cover that doesn’t communicate the fast-paced thriller it appears to be.

J.D. Hallowell submitted Dragon Fate designed by Craig R. Smith.

Dragon Fate
JF: The simplicity of this design combined with careful typography really help its impact.

Ron A. Miles submitted Dreams of Life designed by Rosamond Grupp.

Dreams of Life

Craig Terlson submitted Dunked designed by Craig Terlson. “Wanted to capture the essence of this story without a picture of a person. The crabapple shows up in the story, and exists on the cover as a metaphor to what the young boy struggles with. The story is quirky and dark.”

JF: You may be asking quite a bit from a casual browser who will have no idea how these 2 elements—title and apple—connect.

Steven O’Connor submitted EleMental: A First-person Shooter designed by Kathryn Junor Design; Artist: Aaron Pocock. “I initially intended to submit only the main cover for my new young adult novel, but at the last moment I have decided to submit the four others as well – as I have also published each of the four parts of my novel separately. Just submitting the one cover felt incomplete, as if I was not properly showing the whole story.”

EleMental: A First-person Shooter
JF: The series design shows promise, but its effect is supressed by the lack of contrast on most of these covers. They are retreating away from the reader despite the clever illustration. They need more punch.

Steven O’Connor submitted EleMental: A First-person Shooter (Level 1) designed by Kathryn Junor Design; Artist: Aaron Pocock. “Level 1 of E-FPS.”

EleMental: A First-person Shooter (Level 1)

Steven O’Connor submitted EleMental: A First-person Shooter (Level 2) designed by Kathryn Junor Design; Artist: Aaron Pocock. “Level 2 of E-FPS.”

EleMental: A First-person Shooter (Level 2)

Steven O’Connor submitted EleMental: A First-person Shooter (Level 3) designed by Kathryn Junor Design; Artist: Aaron Pocock. “Level 3 of E-FPS”

EleMental: A First-person Shooter (Level 3)

Steven O’Connor submitted EleMental: A First-person Shooter (Level 4) designed by Kathryn Junor Design; Artist: Aaron Pocock. “Level 4 of E-FPS.”

EleMental: A First-person Shooter (Level 4)

Diane Capri submitted Fatal Enemy designed by Jeroen ten Berge. “We’re redesigning all of my covers for a better branded look and feel. Fatal Enemy is a new release and the first of the new designs. Jeroen outdid himself on this one, don’t you think?”

Fatal Enemy
JF: I’m a fan. The cover is very strong and dynamic, with the designer pointing our attention right at… the crotch. I’m wondering if there wasn’t a different solution to all the blue taglines floating around the cover but, overall, very impressive.

Jacob LaCivita submitted Fester designed by Jacob LaCivita. “Tickets forming the “F” were photographed on a lawn in a park; remaining letters were added later via Gimp. “Fester” is a comedic short story set at a music festival, so I wanted the cover to convey this was not a monster/alien thriller…”


Natasha Brown submitted Fledgling designed by Natasha Brown. “Thank you for your time and consideration :)”

JF: A nice, clean design, Natasha.

Cate Rowan submitted Flirting with the Fireman designed by Cate Rowan. “To match this romantic short story, I wanted to make a cover that was cute, light, and fun.”

Flirting with the Fireman
JF: Very cute, I love it.

Darnell Dickerson submitted Flowers: A Short Story of Love and Death designed by Karri Klawiter.

Flowers: A Short Story of Love and Death
JF: Lovely, but the title could use more contrast and the subtitle is all but unreadable.

Stephanie K. Deal submitted Game of Hearts designed by Stephanie K. Deal. “Thank you!”

Game of Hearts

Damonza submitted Ghostwriter designed by Damonza.

JF: One of the things I admire about Damonza’s covers is his ability to express a concept through simple but evocative visuals, like with this “ghosted” figure.

Yasmin Selena Butt submitted Gunshot Glitter designed by Celene Petrulak. “I came across Celene Petrulak on MySpace several years ago and knew I wanted her to illustrate the cover of my novel. I just fell in love with her art! I think she is amazing. Working together was tricky at times, especially being based in different countries. I made a radical change at the very end, splitting the image in half, luckily Celene could see the merit! I wanted there to be enough space for the words to be showcased properly and the cover quote to fit on. I wanted a cover that looked striking and enticing and feel together we achieved that. I am really proud of our combined effort.”

Gunshot Glitter
JF: I can see why you love her illustration, and that’s one of the reasons this cover really deserves better typography.

Mark Sekela submitted Hidden designed by Mark Sekela. “I designed the cover myself and then had a professional at Angel Editing complete the layout for me. It is the first book in a series that have the same “cover theme”.”

JF: Your method has worked well, but leaving all the type in white is perhaps oversimplified, and an adjustment would make this cover even better than it is.

Robin Lythgoe submitted In the Mirror designed by Robin Lythgoe. “Design by Robin Lythgoe; line-drawing by MarshaLee Champagne; artwork by Robin Lythgoe.”

In the Mirror
JF: A very beautiful cover in which texture, typography, illustration and concept unite into one, cohesive whole.

Jaimie Admans submitted Kismetology designed by Jaimie Admans. “My first published book and this was my first attempt at cover design – I know it is very simple but it took weeks of tweaking and changing bits! I would love to know what you think!”

JF: Jaimie, I think you’ve done a marvelous job. Fun and just right!

Christopher Wills submitted Lulu Love Teenage Ghost designed by self. “I drew the character and scanned her in to my pc then used Manga Studio Ex 4.0 and a graphic pad to draw the church and gravestones, and to colour the lot in. The book is a YA fantasy about a ghost on a dangerous quest to find her father (also a ghost).”

Lulu Love Teenage Ghost
JF: Nice job, Christopher, and a very creative color combination.

Jo Michaels submitted Mystic ~ Bronya designed by Jo Michaels. “This cover was produced using a wacom intuos 4 tablet and Photoshop CS5. I’m interested in all comments. Publication date was 8/19/2012. Thank you for the opportunity!”

Mystic ~ Bronya

Paula Howell submitted No Mother of Mine designed by eBook Prep.

No Mother of Mine

Dave Malone submitted Not Forgiven, Not Forgotten designed by Jenni Wichern.

Not Forgiven, Not Forgotten

Douglas Grant Johnson submitted Out of Kilter designed by Douglas Grant Johnson, author. “Cover image and design by the author; for the woman’s photo, an old family snapshot was used for the hairstyle, but with the addition of a new face mostly created in Photoshop.”

Out of Kilter
JF: Excellent job, Douglas, a very strong ebook cover with nice atmospherics and solid, readable typography.

Toni Kenyon submitted Private Love in a Public Place designed by Kevin Findlater.

Private Love in a Public Place

Karen Anderson submitted ReCovery designed by Liza Williams.

JF: See “dark red type on black background”.

Phillip Winberry submitted Reno Splits: Mystery on a Nevada Divorce Ranch designed by BookBaby.

Reno Splits: Mystery on a Nevada Divorce Ranch
JF: Top quality job, energetic and visually interesting. I just wish BookBaby (and other companies) would credit the designer by name, because if they had, it would have been a strong contender for this month’s award.

111Publishing submitted Schattenfrau designed by Doris-Maria Heilmann. “… Waiting for the Lover, who never arrives. Schattenfrau is a German word for Mistress”


Merrie P Wycoff submitted Shadow of the Sun designed by Marty Petersen.

Shadow of the Sun
JF: Beautiful.

Laura A. H. Elliott submitted Shadow Slayer (Shadow Series #2) designed by Laura A. H. Elliott.

Shadow Slayer (Shadow Series #2)

Damonza submitted Solomon’s Keepers designed by Damonza.

Solomon's Keepers

A.J. Stewart submitted Stiff Arm Steal designed by Damon Freeman.

Stiff Arm Steal
JF: Another strong cover from Damon Freeman, a previous winner here.

Richard Levesque submitted Strictly Analog designed by Mark Walsh.

Strictly Analog

Sylvia Volk submitted Sungoddess designed by Sylvia Volk.

JF: I had trouble with this cover, although the type is strong and the colors attractive, I just couldn’t make out the illustration for a while. But it does jump off the page.

Debra Davis Hinkle submitted Tears to Laughter designed by Sarah Danielle Campeau. “The cover showcases lost pets and family members of the authors.”

Tears to Laughter

Jennifer Holmes Harborth submitted The Eight Pointed Star designed by Jennifer Harborth.

The Eight Pointed Star

K. L. Kerr submitted The Genesis designed by K. L. Kerr.

The Genesis

Karl Fields submitted The Go-To Guy designed by Karl Fields.

The Go-To Guy

Karla Darcy submitted The Marriage Wager designed by Tara O’Shea.

The Marriage Wager

Karla Darcy submitted The Masked Heart designed by Tara O’Shea.

The Masked Heart
JF: These three covers by Tara O’Shea are beautiful examples for a historical romance series. I particular like this one and the way the background pattern repeats in this cover and the one previous. However, also see my notes on The Queen of Diamonds, below.

Karla Darcy submitted The Scandalous Ward designed by Tara O’Shea.

The Scandalous Ward

Beverly Akerman submitted The Meaning of Children designed by Alison Hall.

The Meaning of Children
JF: Beautiful and self-assured, a cover that does everything it needs to do.

Roxanne Crouse submitted The Monster designed by Roxanne Crouse.

The Monster

Jane George submitted The Mumbo Jumbo Circus designed by Jane George.

The Mumbo Jumbo Circus
JF: Fun and distinctive.

Damonza submitted The Queen of Diamonds designed by Damonza.

The Queen of Diamonds
JF: Another great cover from Damonza, compare the way the type is handled here to the series of Karla Darcy books just above. Knowing how to isolate the type without doing violence to the image makes for a much more powerful effect that never confuses the reader.

Aron Joice submitted The Rising(The Lost Children of Managrail) designed by Richard K Green. “Richard K Green from www.Greenalienart.com provided the cover design for The Rising”

The Rising(The Lost Children of Managrail)
JF: Nice and spooky!

Lisa Bouchard submitted The Shattered Door designed by Zoe Storm via 99Designs.com. “Zoe became the front-runner during a surprisingly intense competition. Her design is slick, clean, and professional.”

The Shattered Door

Cassandra submitted The Stars Fell Sideways designed by Myself. “Thank you!”

The Stars Fell Sideways
JF: Very clever and nicely executed.

Colin F. Barnes submitted The Techxorcist Part 0.5: Rebirth designed by Colin F. Barnes (Eric Belisle for illustration).

The Techxorcist Part 0.5: Rebirth
JF: Very cool, I would definitely pick this one up.

Scarlett Rugers submitted The Water Thief designed by Scarlett Rugers. “This design was for a dystopian novel. Portraying the main character disconnected from his world, not only by the fence inside the image but by his separation via standing outside the box.”

The Water Thief
JF: I particularly like the classic feel to this cover.

Ruth O’Brien submitted The Widow Darcy Journals, First Kiss designed by Rajesh Maurya.

The Widow Darcy Journals, First Kiss

Riley Banks submitted The William S Club designed by Ray Bull from Bull Art.

The William S Club

Tom Evans submitted This We Know designed by Me with stock image. “Hi Joel – I can’t claim this is ‘designed’ this per se, more assembled from stock imagery – simplicity, speed and low cost were my aims. Started writing book 3rd Sept, published in print and Kindle by 21st Sept.”

This We Know
JF: No problem, keeping it simple has paid dividends.

Adam Connell submitted Total Secession designed by Miguel Ibarra. “Total Secession was written by Adam Connell, but the cover was designed by Miguel Ibarra. His email is [email protected] He knows that I have submitted his cover for this contest.”

Total Secession

Evelyne Holingue submitted Trapped in Paris

Trapped in Paris

Jordan Castillo Price submitted Turbulence 4: Connecting Flight designed by Jordan Castillo Price. “The emphasis on greens and orange-golds in this cover coordinate it with the previous covers in the series. The typography is consistent throughout all the covers as well. I’m more interested in marketing the series as a whole than any individual title in it, so it must be apparent that the covers are “a set” from even a quick glance.”

Turbulence 4: Connecting Flight
JF: Excellent, really draws us in, and I like the “slick” finish for this series. Quite good for an author-designed cover, Jordan.

Jeff Bennington submitted Twisted Vengeance designed by Jeff Bennington. “This cover is the 5th cover for Twisted Vengeance, and thankfully the last. Sometimes you have to test the waters in the market to see how a book cover is received. If it doesn’t work, change it.”

Twisted Vengeance
JF: Very interesting, would love to know more about the feedback from readers. This one clearly meets the “creepy” test and the type is well integrated.

K.M. del Mara submitted Whitebeam designed by K.M. del Mara. “UK photographer Chris MacLean very generously lent his image to me,a total stranger. I removed the parts that did not harmonize with my 14th century Scottish adventure tale.”


Rhonda McCormack submitted Wildflowers designed by R McCormack/Firehed.


Diana Savastano submitted WINDS OF POOD (Book 1: Under the Puddle) designed by Chris Ladwig.

WINDS OF POOD (Book 1: Under the Puddle)
JF: Okay, this will be our “title of the month” winner. I like the idea of the drawing on this cover, but the palette seems wrong, like it should be much brighter, lighter and more fun. And if you can kill all the modeling on the title, I’m sure it would look better, it’s out of sync with the illustration and adds a lot of graphic “noise”.

Nonfiction Covers

Doris-Maria Heilmann submitted 111 Tips to Create Your Book Trailer designed by Doris-Maria Heilmann.

111 Tips to Create Your Book Trailer

Augusto Pinaud submitted 25 Tips for Productivity designed by Kenn Rudolph.

25 Tips for Productivity
JF: A cute idea and a good way to save money but, unfortunately, it needs to be executed a whole lot better.

Brian Wernham submitted Agile Project Management for Government – Part I designed by David Roberts. “Cover Designer was David Roberts: https://www.davidpaulroberts.com”

Agile Project Management for Government - Part I
JF: Chaotic and ineffective.

Phil Steer submitted As a Child: God’s Call to Littleness designed by Phil Steer (self).

As a Child: God's Call to Littleness
JF: A lovely image crying out for decent typography.

Sylvia Morice submitted Confessions From My Blog designed by Sylvia Morice.

Confessions From My Blog
JF: What’s interesting here is the author’s decision to use a cover design that looks like it should be on a story or a novel. Yet the book is a collection of autobiographical blog posts. That’s a little too confusing for me.

Kelly Langston, Designer / Author, Tamara Brooks submitted Daily Discoveries of God in Life: A Devotional designed by Kelly Langston: Langston Marketing Services.

Daily Discoveries of God in Life: A Devotional

Marilyn Clark submitted Feed Sacks and Bobby Sox: A Hoosier Girl Comes of Age during the Great Depression designed by Publish America. “Photo provided by author and designed by Publish America.”

Feed Sacks and Bobby Sox: A Hoosier Girl Comes of Age during the Great Depression

Keith Lee submitted Programming for Everyone designed by Keith Lee. “I reviewed the ebook covers from many previous months’ submissions, the recommendations published at this site, and ebook covers from other designers. This is my third ebook, and I’m looking forward to your comments!”

Programming for Everyone
JF: Keith, the first thing you need to decide is which element—the image or the title—is going to dominate. Here, they are at war with each other and consequently the cover never quite comes together. Keep going, you’re on the right track.

Fourat Janabi submitted Random Rationality: A Rational Guide to an Irrational World designed by Myself.

Random Rationality: A Rational Guide to an Irrational World

Erin Kelly submitted So, You Want to Live in a Yurt? designed by Erin Kelly.

So, You Want to Live in a Yurt?
JF: I like most everything about this cover, but switching the color of the type in the title the way it’s been done here makes it hard to read and confusing for no good reason.

Karen Anderson submitted Temples of Praise designed by Serena Barnett.

Temples of Praise
JF: You see, a cover like this raises the inevitable question: What’s the book about? Why should I be interested?

Steven Ward submitted The Coffeeist Manifesto designed by Jake Clark. “This design was the product of a contest run through 99Designs. I had low expectations for it because I had just too many elements in mind to make the design I had in my head look right for an ebook cover thumbnail. Even though I didn’t mention most of my ideas and kept my suggestions very mild, somehow Jake’s design included everything I’d been thinking. It was a very competitive contest with a lot of good designs, but Jake’s design came out way ahead of the others.”

The Coffeeist Manifesto
JF: The end result is terrific. This cover shows how strong graphics combined with an equally strong concept can create a cover that’s emblematic of book itself. Well done.

Monica Lee submitted The Percussionist’s Wife: A Memoir of Sex, Crime & Betrayal designed by Monica Lee. “The image itself is an oil painting by artist Peggy Schumm based on photos from the author. Type is in Garamond with the ampersand in Informal Roman.”

The Percussionist's Wife: A Memoir of Sex, Crime & Betrayal

111Publishing submitted Wo bleibt denn der Pilot? designed by Doris-Maria Heilmann. “Took this image years ago in the Swiss Alps. Looks like an orphaned airplane, open doors, the pilot nowhere seen…”

Wo bleibt denn der Pilot?

Michelle Snyder submitted World of Symbols designed by Jay R Snyder.

World of Symbols

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 November 12, 2012 and the deadline for submissions will be October 31, 2012. Don’t miss it! Here are all the links you’ll need:

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

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  1. Amuer Butron

    Hi Joel,
    I am an ebook designer and I have designed tons of ebooks for Amazon. I was wondering if I am qualified to submit my designed covers even if I am not the author of those books?
    By the way, I’m glad I bumped into your blog, it’s very informative.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Hi Amuer,

      Sure, we accept submissions from designers, authors or publishers. See the explanation of the contest on the main page here.

  2. Matthew Thayer

    Aloha Joel,
    Thanks for including the cover of 30,000 B.C. Chronicles: Bordeaux in your monthly design contest – and for the very positive feedback. Scrolling through all the covers featured, it is fun to see so much talent and creativity on display. Good luck to my fellow writers in marketing and moving their projects forward.

  3. Robin Lythgoe

    Thanks so much, Joel, for the lovely comments on “In the Mirror”! You made my day. There are some terrific covers throughout this contest, and I appreciate seeing them along with your spot-on critiques.

    Congratulations to the winners! Excellent work.

    • Joel Friedlander

      That’s great, Robin, and thanks for participating.

  4. Clayton Smith

    Thanks, Joel, for your comments on my cover and for curating this unique educational opportunity. There are a lot of fantastic covers here this month, and a lot of very talented artists participating. I look forward to being a part of future contests and I intend to learn a great deal from this. Thanks again, and special kudos to Matt Hinrich, Jake Clark, and Damonza for your incredible designs.

  5. Rob Vitaro

    Kudos to the winner, very clever cover, I love how it looks like a real book. Thanks for including me in the running. Best of luck to all the books.

  6. Matt

    Thanks, Joel – I’m honored to have the winning design! It’s even sweeter that it’s a cover that incorporates my illustration.

    My personal favorites here are Fester, Ghostwriter, Kismetology, Total Secession and The Coffeeist Manifesto. Good work by all.

    • Joel Friedlander

      And well deserved, Matt, you’ve had many excellent covers in this contest over the months. Thanks for participating.

  7. Joel Friedlander

    Note: The WordPress goblins deleted my comment on the delightful cover for The Coffeist Manifesto before this went live. I’ve now restored the comment.

  8. Jaimie Admans

    Thank you so much for featuring my book, Joel, and for your lovely comments!

    • Joel Friedlander

      Thanks for taking part, Jaimie, and good luck with your book.

  9. Erin Kelly

    A big thank you for this series, it’s beyond helpful in refining ideas. I especially love seeing what other people come up with, coupled with your critiques.

  10. Vivian De Winter

    The cover for “Kismetology” gets my vote. Thank you for continuing this feature. It’s such an inspiration to scroll through all of the various entries each month!

  11. Deb Atwood

    Another great month with stunning art.

    And it is my pleasure to send out a much-earned congratulations to my cover artist Matt Hinrichs for his first place win. Well done, Matt!

  12. Tracy R. Atkins

    Another really awesome batch!

    The Illustration on ‘30,000B.C.’ is killer. I love how they reflection is in the water, and the moody nature of the entire thing. Same with ‘Light of the Moons’. I’m also diggin’ the ‘eastern bloc’ style covers this month. ‘Ghostwriter’ looks like it will be great, without even knowing what the book is about. I could go on and on.

    It’s funny, the more involved I get in independent publishing; the more books get on my read list. Janabi’s Random Rationality is on my short-list. I have been reading and enjoying ‘EleMental’ books by Steven O’Connor.

    • Fourat Janabi

      Thanks Tracy! I’d be happy to send you an e-copy for review… If you’re interested. Let me know.

      • Tracy R. Atkins

        Thanks Fourat! I actually just bought a copy this weekend. :) I haven’t had the chance to read it yet, but it sounds very interesting!

  13. Kate Hillier

    Kit Foster gets my vote. Fantastic.

  14. Jo Michaels

    Thank you for including my cover in your collection. Congratulations to the winner! This is a wonderful roundup of design work and helps us see what “not” to do as well as what works. WRITE ON!

  15. Christopher Wills

    Another feast of covers. I love this post as it is a great resource for amateur cover designers like myself. One gets to see a wide range of covers with comments which really helps. I loved “Sarah & Gerald” although I felt the author’s name could be a little more prominent. I also liked “The Coffeist Manifesto”. I’ve no idea what the book is about but the cover design appears to fit the title. I’m already looking forward to next month’s.

  16. Karl

    A great contest, as always, Joel.

    Personally, I thought “The Tao of Dating” was too busy and noisy, looking more like an amateur-composed advertisement than a book cover.

    “The Water Thief” was really interesting. I thought the overall design was great; really innovative in its retro classicism compared to most book covers you see these days. But I thought the silhouetted figure totally ruined it, dumbing down an otherwise intelligent and evocative cover.

    One of my favorites was “25 Tips for Productivity.” I thought it had a lot of bold impact, while the hand-made, non-digital execution kept it friendly. I’m really curious about what you meant by “it needs to be executed a whole lot better.”

    • Joel Friedlander

      Karl, thanks for your interesting observations. Part of the reason I liked The Tao of Dating was its adept use of the cover space to sell the book. This can be a real key for nonfiction titles, and the typography on this cover is anything but amateur, in my opinion.

      25 Tips suffers from a truly amateur attempt at “artwork” that compromises what would have been an interesting concept.

      • Karl

        Well, this just goes to show how tastes and interpretations can differ. To my eye, “25 Tips” doesn’t look in the least amateurish. Artwork looks amateurish when you can see that the artist was trying to do something beyond his/her technical skills. This cover’s artwork clearly (to my eyes) looks exactly the way it was intended to look.

        As I’m sure you know, this sort of hand-drawn, deliberately imperfect, even “doodle-esque” sort of graphics has been used by many professional cover designers. As long as the confidence in execution is there, it works (to my eye).

  17. Phil Steer

    Many thanks for reviewing the cover “As a Child: God’s Call to Littleness”.
    I think your comment, “A lovely image crying out for decent typography,” is a fair assessment. However, whilst I do agree with you, nonetheless it was still in many ways what I wanted.
    The font (Lindsey Pro Bold) seemed appropriate for a book about childlikeness – casual without being too childish (and not Comic Sans!)
    I know that the light coloured text does not stand out especially well against background, but I purposely did not use a darker colour because this took away from the lightness (in both appearance and – more importantly – “feel”) of the cover.
    For the eBook I added a drop shadow to make the text stand out more clearly, but it seems that (for some reason) you have an image of the printed book cover (not that I think this would have made much difference to your assessment).
    I purposely chose a small font size for my name, as it is the book that I wish to promote, not me as the author (I expect this to be a one-off, and have no plans to write another).
    I write all this not to try to defend my cover (as I say, I do think your’s was a fair assessment) but simply to explain why it ended up as it did (even if my decisions were the wrong ones).
    Thank you again for taking the time to review it.

      • Phil Steer

        Many thanks for taking the trouble to read and reply to my post.

        Yes, I did try the text in black (and other dark colours) but, as I mentioned, I didn’t like the way that it took away from the “lightness” of the cover. The content of the book is meant to be taken seriously, but I hope that I have written about childlikeness and littleness with a commensurate lightness of tone and spirit, and I wanted this to be reflected in the cover. This is, I think, well conveyed by the image of the child (which Joel was kind enough to praise), and it didn’t seem right, somehow, to surround this with dark, “heavy” text.

        As I mentioned, I added a drop shadow to the text for the eBook, which I think improves things quite a lot (although undoubtedly doesn’t address all the issues), but the image shown in this gallery is from the original print version. Whether this means that I submitted the wrong link for Joel to review, I don’t know (the eBook cover can be seen on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B009GDDJ6Y).

        Once again, many thanks for your feedback.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Phil, thanks for the explication. The difficulty of balancing these elements while still communicating the overall tone and intention of the book is why we have professional book cover designers, and I hope you’ll consider hiring one of the great designers who submit work here because I think you would be surprised at the many solutions to this problem that probably don’t occur to someone less experienced in handling these elements. And thanks for participating in the contest.

      • Phil Steer

        Many thanks, Joel, for your reply. You are right, of course. However, as your excellent article “26 Ways to Win at Self-Publishing” recognises, people publish books for all sorts of different reasons, many of which are unlikely to generate much in the way of monetary returns. This being the case it is (sadly) very hard to justify the expense of professional services such as cover design. I appreciate that a high quality cover can lead to increased sales, but, even so, since I already anticipate subsidising my book costs, it is difficult to think of taking on further expense. Having said this, I am not closed to the idea, and may well give it serious consideration. Either way, I do appreciate what I have learned through this contest. Once again, many thanks.

      • Phil Steer

        I’ve revised the cover to my book, “As a Child: God’s Call to Littleness”, which you fairly assessed as “A lovely image crying out for decent typography.”
        I won’t be resubmitting it for your eBook Design Awards (since I doubt that’s what you’d want), but I thought you might perhaps like to see the improvement that followed your’s and others’ comments:
        You may well feel that it is still lacking the professional touch, but it is certainly a lot better than it was.
        So many thanks for running the awards.

    • J S

      Make the title font a little larger and put a bunch of drop shadows behind the text (black or the darkest blue used elsewhere on the image). That way you get both the lightness of the lettering you want plus the legibility. (the cover text on “the meaning of children” farther up the page is an example of compensating light text over a light background).

      • Phil Steer

        Many thanks for taking the trouble to read and reply to my posts. Yes, I can see how well the text on “The Meaning of Children” works. My eBook text does actually use a drop shadow (see https://www.amazon.com/dp/B009GDDJ6Y) but it seems I might have inadvertently submitted the earlier print book cover (without the drop shadow). Joel has encouraged me to consider using one of the professional design services, but I will certainly also revisit the cover myself, to see if I can improve it using what I have learnt here. Once again, many thanks.

        • Karl

          Phil, I think it would be a shame for you to spend money on a professional cover designer. With the cover you have, you’ve got something that fits your personal vision for your book better than anything designed by someone else ever could. And IMO the problems with your cover are minimal. I looked at the ebook cover you linked to, and I’d say that any problem with the title is completely fixed. All that remains is the matter of the subtitle being written in invisible ink, and surely you can find a fix for that.

          Some people like to say “you didn’t get it quite right; so you should hire someone to do it for you.” I say “you didn’t get it quite right, so keep working at it, keep learning, keep stretching.”

          • Phil Steer

            Many thanks, Karl, that’s a real encouragement. I’ll do just that.

          • Phil Steer

            Here, as promised, is a revised version of my cover:
            It’s essentially the same as before, but with the text size increased and a drop shadow added to aid clarity. The sub-heading is still not readable when the image size is reduced, but I’m not sure there’s much I can do about that (without, for instance, darkening the font colour, which I don’t want to do, as I don’t want it dominating the image). What do you think? Many thanks.

    • Phil Steer

      My apologies to anyone who might be a bit fed up with the number of comments about my failed (or, at least, less than wholly successful) cover design. I have appreciated the opportunity to discuss it, and perhaps others might learn from my mistakes too. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

  18. Zelah Meyer

    In the Mirror and The Queen of Diamonds are my favourite two – both are stunning.

  19. Kit Foster

    Hi Joel,
    Many thanks for your kind words about both my covers – and for picking The Tao of Dating! I’m absolutely over the moon!

    Another fantastic month, with a definite continuing rise in the overall quality of the work. Amongst my personal favourites are: 30,000 B.C. Chronicles: Bordeaux (beautiful illustration there), The Water Thief, Solomon’s Keepers, Ghostwriter, Fester, and The Coffeeist Manifesto.

    Thanks again Joel, for all the hard work you put into this every month!

    – Kit

    • Joel Friedlander

      Congratulations, Kit, wear your badge with pride. I love having your covers in this competition every month, and I agree that the overall quality level is on the rise. The only serious threat in nonfiction this month was the terrific The Coffeist Manifesto.

  20. Ernie Zelinski


    Thanks for this.

    I enjoyed your analysis of the covers and agree with practically all the comments you made for the respective covers.

    To add to this discussion about the importance of a great cover (and a great title as well), I want to share two examples of retirement books that were released this year and are competition for my two retirement books.

    First check out:

    “The Retirement Maze: What You Should Know Before and After You Retire”


    In my opinion the cover for “The Retirement Maze” is lousy and the title and subtitle leave a lot to be desired (I am being generous here).

    Now, look at:

    “The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement”


    On the other hand, the cover for “The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement” works great. What’s more, the title is simple, but so effective that it doesn’t even require a subtitle.

    Incidentally, “The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement” has only been out for two weeks, but near as I can tell, has already sold more copies of its print edition than the print edition of “The Retirement Maze”, which has been out for over six months.

    I predict that in the long term “The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement” will outsell “The Retirement Maze” at least 50 to 1.

    In short, covers do matter big time. But so do titles and subtitles. (And of course content.)

    Ernie J. Zelinski
    International Best-Selling Author, Innovator, and Prosperity Life Coach
    Author of the Bestseller “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free”
    (Over 165,000 copies sold and published in 9 languages)
    and the International Bestseller “The Joy of Not Working’
    (Over 250,000 copies sold and published in 17 languages)



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