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By Joan Stewart

You need a creative image for a blog post, your author media kit or other marketing materials.

If you can afford it, you grit your teeth, whip out your credit card and buy a pack of 10 from those pricey stock photo sites. Or you use a cliché stock photo from one of the many free sites.

Sure, you can create something unique at Canva. But if you’re impatient like I am, you don’t want to struggle with a site you don’t use often, especially when you’re in a hurry.

Welcome to PhotoFunia.com, my favorite, number one, five-star, go-to website for creating offbeat effects from a digital photo you already have, even if it’s just your head shot or book cover.

It’s drop-dead simple to use. Most images, also known as an effect, can be created in less than 60 seconds with no technical skills. And you don’t need to create an account or remember a username and password.

Just hop on over to PhotoFunia.com:

  • cruise through the offerings
  • choose your favorite image
  • upload your photo to insert into it
  • crop it
  • download it
  • save it to a folder

It’s that easy.

Because I’m The Publicity Hound, I created this simple image in about a minute:

Choose from More Than 600 Images

This site is a goldmine for authors because, in many cases, you’ll be able to find an image that’s related to the topic of your book.

If you write about photography, you’ll find a Photography category with 37 images.

Romance novelists, choose from more than 21 images in the Valentine’s Day category and many more throughout the site.

Write murder mysteries? There’s a Zombie, a woman with a gun, a few “Wanted” posters and a slick “FBI ID.” Just insert a photo of what your FBI agent character looks like and you’ve got a fun image. You can find generic head shots of men and women at Pixabay.com, the best free stock photo site. That’s what I did when I created the image below.


If you publish art books, you have 38 choices in the Galleries category.

Write about celebrities? Choose from 24 images. My client, Rick Lenz, who writes novels with a Hollywood twist, created this image of Marilyn Monroe, who’s a major character in his book, “The Alexandrite.”

Cookbook authors, insert your head shot into a cup of latte. Or put it on the label of a wine bottle.

Need a holiday-related photo? Choose from images in the Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Halloween categories.

Even if you write fiction or nonfiction on a topic that doesn’t dovetail with any of the categories or images, you can put your head shot and book cover on a giant Times Square billboard. That’s what author Tim Patterson did with his nonfiction book Tradeshow Superheroes and Exhibiting Zombies: 66 Lists Making the Most of Your Tradeshow Marketing. He also placed the cover on a side of a double-decker red bus.


Insert Text, Too

If all you need is an unusual image that you can customize for your needs, but you don’t have a photo, you can insert text.

Here’s a photo I created for an article at my blog under the headline Brand Your Business with a Gusher of Local Publicity.

Create Animated Images

You’ll love the 13 animated images, perfect for sharing on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Go to the search box in the upper left corner of the PhotoFunia homepage and type “animated.” You’ll find images of:

  • falling snow
  • a woman fanning herself
  • a photograph on fire
  • a woman dancing on the set up of a 1950s-style TV show
  • and more

Elsewhere on the site, I found animated images of a Santa making a snow angel, and a woman holding a sparkler, perfect for the Fourth of July.

Photofunia recently added the Banksy Shredder image. It’s patterned after the stunt that Banksy, the street artist, staged when he shredded his $1.4 million “Girl with the Balloon” photo at a Sotheby auction.

Read the Terms of Service

PhotoFunia’s Terms of Service say I’m not permitted to link to anything other than their homepage. But if you go to the site and scroll to the bottom of the page, you’ll see “Terms of Service.” It prohibits you from using the images for commercial purposes. That means you can’t use the images on T-shirts and coffee mugs that you sell, or for the covers and interiors of books you sell.

I contacted them and asked if the images can be used for things like blog posts, email newsletters and marketing materials and they said yes.

I also asked them if one of my readers, Kristi Lynn Glass, could use the clothes pin image below that she created from one of the PhotoFunia effects. She added the green section at the bottom, using Canva. PhotoFunia said yes. Think of ways to use this free picture editing tool to market other products and services you sell, not only books.

If you have questions about whether you can use an image, or you have an idea for an image you’d like them to create, use the contact form at the bottom of the homepage under Support. It may take a few days before you get an answer.

PhotoFunia has apps for:

  • iOS
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Blackberry 10
  • Firefox OS
  • Sailfish OS

You can find those links by clicking on the Help section at the bottom.

Now go have fun with PhotoFunia! But before you leave, take a minute and share some ideas in the Comments about how you think you might like to use this fun, free tool.
 
Photo: BigStockPhoto

The post Create Fast, Free, Festive Images in Seconds with PhotoFunia appeared first on The Book Designer.

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Lucky me.

I just received an early holiday present from Tracy, Seth Godin‘s latest bestseller, This Is Marketing.

Seth Godin has been a “companion” for the last 10 years, and his short, pithy, and often surprising blog posts have taught me plenty about marketing and, even more important, how to think about the connection between marketers and their audience.

Although I’m only partway through the book, I can already see that like his previous bestsellers, Godin is—once again—re-orienting our approach to marketing in the online world, bringing us right up to date with what’s working today.

It takes incisive thinking to be able state complex ideas in a short, simple way that anyone can understand, and that’s long been one of Godin’s appeals.

Near the beginning of the book, the author sets out what he calls “Marketing in five steps.”

This short list presents such a valuable conceptual overview of the marketing process, I thought it would be worthwhile to elaborate on his ideas and see how they apply to indie authors trying to market their books.

Marketing in Five Steps for Indie Authors

In the following list, I’ve used Seth Godin’s text, then added commentary to each item:

  1. The first step is to invent a thing worth making, with a story worth telling, and a contribution worth talking about.

    • A book “worth making” is one that makes a unique contribution to your readers, one that delivers on what it offers. Godin mentions a “story” connected to your product (book, in this case) and this is critical to marketing. People respond to stories. Why did you write the book? How did it come about? What obstacles did you face? They all go into your story.
  2. The second step is to design and build it in a way that a few people will particularly benefit from and care about.
    • It’s important to know who you are writing for, the part of the population that will be thrilled about your book. If you make those people very satisfied, the rest of your marketing will be suffused with authenticity. Your book will be grounded in the wants and needs of this audience.
  3. The third step is to tell a story that matches the built-in narrative and dreams of that tiny group of people, the smallest viable market.
    • In marketing we often say we want to get into the conversation already taking place in a prospective readers’ mind. Story is what resonates, what connects us to the archetypal storylines running throughout human history. Knowing your own story, and the story behind your book, gives you the ideal insight into how to market it.
  4. The fourth step is the one everyone gets excited about: spread the word.
    • After you’ve walked the first three steps, have your message and understanding of your market honed, then you can reach out through social media, launch planning, interviews, and all the other ways we bring attention to our books.
  5. The last step is often overlooked: show up—regularly, consistently, and generously, for years and years—to organize and lead and build confidence in the change you seek to make. To earn permission to follow up ad to earn enrollment to teach.
    • Anyone who has run a popular blog, a long-lived podcast, a regular newsletter, or any other form of published content will tell you that only over time can you build a true and lasting relationship with your readers. Over time you deepen your relationship to your craft, and to the goals you share with your community. The ongoing conversation you have with people is a demonstration of your own commitment to your values and your willingness to be a leader.

Seth Godin always stresses the importance of being of service to your chosen community, being animated by a desire to serve.

Whether you plan to use lots of videos, Facebook Live broadcasts, interviews, written articles, paid ads, or any other form of marketing in support of your book sales, understanding these five steps will give you a firm grounding in the real connection you have with readers.

“Marketing is our quest to make change on behalf of those we serve, and we do it by understanding the irrational forces that drive each of us.”—Seth Godin

This post contains affiliate links.

The post Seth Godin’s Marketing in 5 Steps (for Authors) appeared first on The Book Designer.

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By Shelley Sturgeon

Life is a little chaotic at this time of the year for many of us, isn’t it? I am trying to finish things up for the year, do shopping, decorating, baking—all on top of my normal routine. I swear my Google Home will soon stop talking to me after the long list of demands I’ve been placing on her. “Hey Google remind me to…” “Hey Google add XXX to my shopping list…” “Hey Google what’s on my calendar for today?” “Hey Google where can I buy…” “Hey Google remember…” I wonder how I ever managed without her!

If you’re like me and talk the virtual ear off your Google Home, if she can’t answer your questions on self-publishing, check out our large articles archive sorted by topic or search our site using the Search box located in the right side panel.

David Gaughran on David Gaughran
Clever Ways Authors Are Using BookBub Ads
“BookBub Ads is the platform where I’ve seen most growth in the last year, to the point where it is rivaling Facebook, especially when factoring in conversion. The amount of money I can spend effectively on BookBub — and by that I mean get an immediate return on investment — has quadrupled in the last twelve months.”

Nathan Bransford on Nathan Bransford
Will you ever buy mostly e-books? 2018 results!
“Something interesting happened last year with the results of my annual e-books survey.”

Lara Perkins on Writer’s Digest
How to Pitch a Picture Book: Secrets for Breaking Into a Growing but Competitive Market
“Pitching a picture book or children’s fiction? Things are looking up. Publisher’s Weekly reports that children’s book sales rose 2.9% for the first five months of 2018, with notable gains for board books.”

Anne R. Allen on Anne R. Allen’s Blog… with Ruth Harris
You’ve Finished Your First Novel! What to Do Now: 7 Do’s and Don’ts
“Did you win #NaNo? Is it a first novel? Congratulations!!! … Only about 3% of people who start novels actually finish, so you’re a major winner right there.”

Dean Wesley Smith on Dean Wesley Smith
Stay Away From Traditional Book Publishing
“Yes, I Know That is a Dream for Many… But it is a horrid (and I mean horrid beyond words) path for writers now in 2018.”

Other Links of Interest

Hermann Zapf & the World He Designed
 
Photo: pixabay.com

The post This Week in the Blogs, December 1 – 7, 2018 appeared first on The Book Designer.

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By Amy Collins

Two years ago, it was so easy to find the top Amazon.com reviewers and approach them and ask for reviews. There was software that let authors and publishers find the name and email addresses of the thousands of Amazon reviewers who had already written reviews of books in a similar vein.

I had written a self-help book for women about lowering stress, so it was easy to find the bestselling books on stress reduction and find the contact information on Amazon of those who had reviewed those bestselling books.

Then, I put together a BULK email using MailChimp and emailed THOUSANDS of reviewers all in one afternoon.

It. Was. Awesome.

Then, for some reason, in March of 2018, Amazon made a decision to hide the email addresses of reviewers on their profiles. Speculation was they did this because of the new GDPR rules and regulations but no one really knows why. This completely stopped authors from being able to email potential reviewers–even if the reviewers didn’t mind being contacted with their information public on their profile.

Does this mean it’s the end of finding targeted reviewers for books? Absolutely NOT! But it is a lot harder than it used to be.

Amazon is REALLY working hard to hide the contact information of book reviewers, and GoodReads only lets you message a few readers every day before shutting you down for the day. HOW, then, can you reach the reviewers and readers who write reviews?

That was the long, painful, whiney question I asked Debbie Drum last week on the phone. I was complaining about the lack of reviewer emails available and how easy it used to be to mass-email folks.

Now, I have to write each email individually or I get hit by Gmail or Earthlink with a blacklist mark. (I DO NOT want to be considered a “spammer”!)

Debbie has a program called Book Review Targeter that pulls data on readers and reviewers of specific books. I LOVE the idea of using software to find readers and reviewers of books written by authors in my community. There are authors out there who have already written books that appeal to MY readers. Finding readers and getting them to consider my book is SO much easier when I start by knowing my fellow authors and reach out to THEIR readers.

With this idea firmly in place, and knowing that it is no longer “cool” to mass email folks. HOW CAN I REACH THEM?

Well Debbie agreed to jump in and answer exactly that! So welcome Debbie Drum as she answers some of my biggest questions:

Amy: Debbie, is there any way in today’s world, to email readers in a way that does not “spam” them?

Debbie: The good news is YES.

When researching comparable authors to find books that have a lot of reviews online, look for bestselling books to start. When a bestselling author releases a book and they have done “everything right” – meaning

  • they have done the market research,
  • their cover is beyond professional,
  • their description is spot on and convincing,
  • and their content is killer,

then that author will probably have a lot more reviews and you will get better review response results from mass cold emails.

I would say first test out in a small segment to see if mass emailing will work for you. If it doesn’t, don’t give up. There are certainly other ways to get the reviews you need to sell more books.

Amy: So what other options do we have? That’s the next question.

Debbie: Social Media is also a great place to find reviewers. When looking for book reviewers, and influencers that can share and promote a book, I like to start with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest.

All of these amazing platforms have direct messaging and commenting components to them.

What’s so great about this? A lot of these social media platforms are listed on an Amazon reviewer’s bio page.

Not every profile on Amazon has this social data present. It’s only if the person WANTS to provide this data publicly. But it is a great place to start.

There is software such as Book Review Targeter that can pull these social media addresses, or you can do it manually. But be aware that for every 1,000 reviewers you look up, you will find perhaps 50-100 social media addresses. But that is GREAT!

Now you have 50 targeted people to contact and YOU have the upper hand. Now that you have the social links of reviewers, let’s go over some rules and what to say to get the reviewers to review your book!

Amy: What is the best way to connect with readers in this new world?

Debbie: There are only four rules to follow when it comes to contacting reviewers.

Here they are:

#1 – Be Brief

This is the most important that’s why it’s FIRST. Don’t write paragraph after paragraph after paragraph. This is a HUGE mistake. In a couple of sentences you can explain what your book is about, why you are contacting them, what they will get out of it (more about this in #3) and what to do next.

People will tune you out if you go on and on.

The conversation will continue in a natural fashion through the direct messaging channel if a good connection is made.

#2 – Add Something Personal

In this day and age, it’s OK to “stalk” your prospects. If you are contacting someone on YouTube, watch their videos and make a comment on what you like or what your favorite video of theirs is.

If you are contacting someone on Facebook, take note of a picture they posted or something you might have in common with that person.

Another thing you can do is read the review they wrote of the other book. Make a comment about their review.

The point is you want to add something personal to your message to make it stand out and not look so spammy and cookie cutter.

Does this take a little bit more time? Yes, but it will pay off a lot more than blasting the same message in 500 emails and “wasting” them to get little to no response.

#3 – Talk About benefits for THEM

Remember, these reviewers you are reaching out to are strangers for the most part. Do you think they care about why you need more reviews? Or where you are looking to take your career as an author? NOPE THEY DON’T.

What do they care about?

They care about what your book will do for them. So TELL THEM!

Instead of talking about you and what their review will do for you, talk about them and what benefits they will get out of reading your book. Your message should not just include your book description. Copying and pasting your book description will not work and it also breaks rule #1 on brevity.

Make a list of 3-5 bullet points of what outcome they should expect. Compel them to respond. The review process is a part of marketing so put on your copywriting cap to convince the reader they should spend time with YOU. Get help with this if you need it. IT’S THAT IMPORTANT!

#4 – Have the ability for them to get your book for free

The worst thing you can do is cold message someone and then ask them to buy your book. Have a way you can get them the book for free either as a PDF or with a program like Book Connect.

That’s it. Those are the rules. They aren’t that hard to follow but each one is important so make sure you follow them!

Amy: What are some other ways of getting reviews in today’s publishing atmosphere?

Debbie: You could be doing more to get organic reviews (reviews that come naturally).

Once you get about 10 – 15 reviews under your belt, that’s enough to get you enough social proof for your book to sell. With those reviews, you will get more sales and more readers.

First and foremost be sure to ask for a review inside of your book so readers understand it’s important for you to hear their feedback.

You can do more inside of your book as well.

Before you publish, set a specific hashtag for all of your book marketing. For example, one of my hashtags for a book was #readbetterfaster.

After I requested a review inside the book, I also asked my readers to use the hashtag #readbetterfaster in any social media posting they did. So, if they reviewed or said anything about my book on social media, I could easily find it and connect with that reader and either make a connection and/or ask them personally to post their review on Amazon if they didn’t already.

Lastly, I’ll give you another big tip. Amazon is now offering prime real estate for video reviews. You get the real estate as a reviewer (Hint: This is a great way to market yourself.) and your book will stand out more if someone leaves you a video review for your book or product. Video reviews will give your book extra oomph. Once you have enough reviews under your belt, try to get some folks to leave you a video review. It will go a long way!

Times are changing and as authors we have to adapt. Getting reviews is tough at first but you cannot ignore the process.
 
Photo: BigStockPhoto

The post Where Did the Amazon Reviewers Go? appeared first on The Book Designer.

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As regular readers know, I often promote marketing and platform-building training tools and resources.

I do this partly because I know from experience that understanding how online marketing works will make it possible for more authors to make a living from their writing.

This is also part of my own business, since I earn commissions from the providers of these tools when one of my readers makes a purchase.

But what about authors who aren’t trying to make money from their work but still have a burning design to have their books widely read?

What do you do then?

Here’s a note I received recently from David Gierke, an author who, on my recommendation, looked into both Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula (PLF) and Nick Stephenson’s Your First 10,000 Readers.

These are both excellent training programs that I’m proud to promote because I know that for the right person, they can be life-changing.

PLF is really intended for people who want to start an online business, whether it’s book publishing or something else, and it requires a pretty high level of commitment to achieve the kind of success that’s possible.

Your First 10,000 Readers is squarely aimed at indie writers, but learning how to attract and engage an audience also takes quite a commitment in time, energy, and finances to really be profitable.

The Other Authors

What about the other authors, the ones who have no interest in starting a publishing business, may not even have another book to write, and don’t have the time, money, or enthusiasm for the details?

Here’s David’s note:

Joel,

I stopped watching [Jeff Walker’s] third lesson after he trashed writing books for minuscule profit, instead suggesting that we sell some course (etc.) after the book has been published, indicating that that was where the “real money” resided.

As a first-time, one-book (biographical novel) author, who is not interested in making “real money” or furthering my career, but only that my work gets read, I’m afraid that Mr. Walker falls into the Nick Stevenson mold of selling books. Unfortunately, I don’t have a “magnet book” to give away to “prime the pump” in terms of establishing my “platform”. Even if I had an extensive list, what am I going to sell these people other than my one book?

My goal is to sell my one book, which required seven years to write and two years to edit and format, made available through Ingram Spark and the usual vendors.

I’m afraid I have wasted another four or five hours of my time.

C. David Gierke

P.S. I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no answer to my dilemma. First-book indie authors, writing fiction, are screwed in terms of having their work read by the multitudes.

{If you are curious, you can find David’s books here: To Caress the Air: Augustus Herring and the Dawn of Flight (Book 1 & 2).)

I get a variation of David’s question every week. Other authors stuck in the dilemma of wanting a readership but not really fitting into the mold of the entrepreneurial author that’s so widely promoted online.

We can’t repeal the laws of marketing, either. You’ll still need to find a way to get your book in front of audiences who are most likely to be interested in it.

But we also can’t mandate that every author who wants to be read turn into a social media and marketing dynamo, either. So sending them to learn from successful authors like Stephenson or Joanna Penn or Mark Dawson isn’t going to help either.

I confess I don’t have lots of good answers to this question, so I ask you:

What can these authors do?

Photo: bigstockphoto.com This post contains affiliate links.

The post A Novelist’s Anguished Cry—Can You Help? appeared first on The Book Designer.

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By Shelley Sturgeon

Some great articles for you again this week. Take a look. And, with the holidays on the horizon, and all the busyness they often entail, you may want to add these dates on your calendar so that you don’t forget:

  • Submit your blog posts to our Self-Publishing: Carnival of the Indies blog carnival by December 15th. All the information you need to know can be found here.
     
  • Be sure to submit your e-book cover to us for our December e-Book Cover Design Awards before you begin your New Years Eve celebrations. December’s submissions will be presented in a post at the end of January. Submission information can be found here. Be sure to tell us in the Remarks field of the submission form about the significance of the image(s), color palette choices and/or name of font(s) you selected for your e-book cover.

If you have any questions about the Carnival of the Indies or the e-Book Cover Design Awards, just click on the Contact page and fill in that form, or leave a comment below.

Melinda Clayton on Indies Unlimited
Draft2Digital, Baker & Taylor, and OverDrive
“Those of you who use Draft2Digital to distribute eBooks outside of Amazon should have recently received a message that Draft2Digital has now partnered with Baker & Taylor’s Axis 360 eBook distribution platform.”

Frances Caballo on Social Media Just for Writers
Author’s Guide to Email Marketing plus 3 Best Practices
“There’s a piece of advice that authors everywhere are receiving that you can’t ignore: start your email marketing list and grow it.”

Mike Shatzkin on The Shatzkin Files
The best ways to use Lightning are not widely employed yet 20 years in
“The 20th anniversary of Lightning Source, the digital service provided by Ingram that supplies both printed-on-demand books and ebook file distribution services for publishers, was recently noted in a tribute piece in Publishers Weekly.”

Russell Phillips on Self Publishing Advice From The Alliance Of Independent Authors
Book Production: How to Self-publish Large-Print Books
“I’ve released large print versions of several of my books. Most indies only have an ebook, or an ebook and a standard paperback. Having extra formats such as large print looks professional and helps me to stand out.”

Steven Spatz on BookBaby Blog
Six Myths  (and a Few Facts) About Traditional Publishing
“Despite the constant upheaval that defines the current publishing landscape, many authors (and would-be authors) labor under some old “assumptions” about traditional publishing that are simply no longer relevant.”
 
Photo: pixabay.com

The post This Week in the Blogs, November 24 – 30, 2018 appeared first on The Book Designer.

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By Joel Friedlander

Welcome to the e-Book Cover Design Awards. This edition is for submissions during October, 2018.

This month we received:

62 covers in the Fiction category
16 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 October 2018 in Fiction

Ebook Launch submitted The Book of Chaos designed by Ebook Launch.



JF: Beautifully captures both the mystery and the subversive nature of reading.

e-Book Cover Design Award Winner for October 2018 in Nonfiction

Lyss Em submitted M/M Romance Tropes designed by Lyss Em.



JF: I love the direct, visual appeal of this cover and the clarity with which it presents its “offer” to readers. Needs a subtle border to prevent it “bleeding” onto white web pages.

Fiction Covers

Allison Garcia submitted Finding Amor designed by Julio Cesar Garcia de Alba. “I write my books and my husband hand-paints the covers. Then I scan and upload them onto my computer then use Canva and design the rest of the text and other details for the covers.”


JF: You two are a great team, and this cover is completely charming and unique. I do find the type running right up to the left and right edges a bit jarring.

ANA CHABRAND submitted Sky View designed by ANA CHABRAND DESIGN HOUSE.


JF: Pretty basic, and the title could use more contrast with the background.

ANA CHABRAND HERNANDEZ submitted The Candle designed by ANA CHABRAND DESIGN HOUSE.


JF: An interesting look with a unique title treatment.

Angelica R. Jackson submitted Merlin’s Stronghold: Faerie Crossed Book 2 designed by Kelley York of X-Potion Designs. “This cover features the same model/location as the 1st in the series, and we wanted to create a feeling of suspense with the looming door and hesitant figure”


JF: Although there are a number of lovely elements, they never come together to create much impact.

Brooke De Lira submitted Feral Phantom designed by Stefanno De Lira “I used a unique costume to create the character rather than manipulating a stock photo. I tried to go for an eye-popping color combination that fit the superhero genre well.”


JF: An exciting design, but I question the positioning of that building right in the center. It looks so… uncomfortable.

BRUNO NUA submitted LONDON CALLING designed by BRUNO NUA. “Brings together three favourite art and design elements i adore: French “Editions de Minuit”, Swiss Minimalism, and Asian Scroll Paintings… I instructed Thai artist SUCHART PHUMKHED what to paint, and Irish graphics guy JOHN MARSHALL what cover layout to construct.”


JF: Maybe next time instead of telling them, ask them what would work best for a book cover, because this confused and confusing arrangement isn’t it.

CJ Zahner submitted Dream Wide Awake designed by Amanda Filutze “The artist, Amanda Filutze, is a recent college graduate and talented in so many ways. Wonderful to work with, Amanda worked diligently to provide what I wanted. She completed several sketches. I evaluated them. She listened to everything I said and came up with this as an end result. I loved it.”


JF: Striking.

Cora Graphics submitted Circus in a Shot Glass designed by Cora Graphics.


JF: An expertly-designed cover with subtle cues that lead the reader right where the designer wants us; passing through the center of the image and ending in the “love is a balancing act” tagline. ★

Cora Graphics submitted Trouble designed by Cora Graphics.


JF: Another cover that hits the target for this genre right in the bullseye. Romance, intrigue, a light tone and beautiful typography all come tother.

Dan Van Oss submitted Hard Press designed by Dan Van Oss.


JF: Intriguing cover for an urban thriller with a female protagonist.

Dan Van Oss submitted Saucy Jacky designed by Dan Van Oss.


JF: The distressed type of the title perfectly matches the scary visuals on this horror title.

Dan Van Oss submitted Mind Park designed by Dan Van Oss.


JF: Classic—and effective—sci fi cover.

Darja DDD submitted The Kingdom designed by Milo from Deranged Doctor Design. “Urban fantasy book cover design, A Gripping Urban Fantasy: Berkeley Blackfriars Book One”


JF: A fascinating series design (see following two covers) that uses the isolation of the central figure and color palettes that add a noble atmosphere. Combined with the careful typography (although the kerning of “Power” is odd) they make a great effect.

Darja DDD submitted The Power designed by Milo from Deranged Doctor Design. “Urban fantasy book cover design, A Gripping Urban Fantasy: Berkeley Blackfriars Book Two”

Darja DDD submitted The Glory designed by Milo from Deranged Doctor Design. “Urban fantasy book cover design, A Gripping Urban Fantasy: Berkeley Blackfriars Book Three”

Darja DDD submitted The Amulet Thief designed by Milo from Deranged Doctor Design. “Paranormal & Urban Fantasy cover design, The Fitheach Trilogy Book 1”


JF: Another great 3-title series design that emphasizes its occult focus with expertly drawn titles, sensitive color shifts from cover to cover, and images that give story hints. Also note the very artful series branding on the floating “feather” on each cover.

Darja DDD submitted The Blood Thief designed by Milo from Deranged Doctor Design. “Paranormal & Urban Fantasy cover design, The Fitheach Trilogy Book 2”

Darja DDD submitted The Destiny Thief designed by Milo from Deranged Doctor Design. “Paranormal & Urban Fantasy cover design, The Fitheach Trilogy Book 3”

Darja DDD submitted Hidden Agenda designed by Marushka from Deranged Doctor Design. “Mystery, Thriller & Suspense book cover design, A Dan Roy Thriller ,The Dan Roy Series Book 1”


JF: This series design for suspense thrillers has everything going for it, until you hit cover #3, where the formula changes, for some unknown reason. The first two covers focus on an anonymous man with a gun and a strong color highlight, but on book 3 identities are revealed and we now have a couple. Although this may make sense from the way the story develops, it appears to the casual observer like inconsistency. Title uses a suitably strong font for this genre.

Darja DDD submitted Dark Water designed by Marushka from Deranged Doctor Design. “Mystery, Thriller & Suspense book cover design, A Dan Roy Thriller ,The Dan Roy Series Book 2”

Darja DDD submitted Scorpion Down designed by Marushka from Deranged Doctor Design. “Mystery, Thriller & Suspense book cover design, A Dan Roy Thriller ,The Dan Roy Series Book 7”

David E. Gates submitted The Wretched designed by David E. Gates & Aaron Jenkin “This image particularly summed up the feeling of a ghostly presence in a harbour, which features in the book. The lights of the nearby town in the background, giving resonance to the content in the story.”


JF: Funny, I don’t see any of that in this monochromatic, low-interest cover.

Debbi Mack submitted Least Wanted designed by Stewart Williams.


JF: A strong design that leverages its graphic layout with a carefully controlled color palette.

Deborah Coonts submitted The Lucky O’Toole Vegas Adventure Boxset 1 designed by Glendon of Streetlight Graphics.


JF: The hierarchy of information is getting lost in the visual confusion.

Desmond Ryan submitted 10-33 Assist Pc designed by Catherine Chow. “’10-33 Assist PC’ is a hard-boiled police procedural. The cover is stark. The blood splatters reflect a homicide. The sunflower seeds are a poignant reminder of one of the characteristics of the murder victim. This cover reflects the tone and the genre of the book perfectly.”


JF: Gritty and unmistakable.

DJ Martin submitted Transformation! Ogre’s Assistant Book 3 designed by Fiona Jayde. “Amy is an administrative assistant to an ogre. Along the way in this book, he gets turned into a bat. Her magical skills help get him back to himself.”


JF: I like the eerie tone of this cover, although it seems that the title should be a stronger element.

Dusty Grein submitted Abnormal designed by Dusty Grein “Though a little busy, this cover does project the Sci-Fi feel I was after. The story is a dystopian vision and with elements of telepathy and genetic brain mutations, so I thought the neuron was a fitting addition”


JF: Confusing and bit awkward.

Dusty Grein submitted Ladybird Adrift designed by Dusty Grein “In this cover, I wanted to create an impending sense of loss and loneliness, and the simplistic style helped to convey that mood.”


JF: A good idea, but it needs a stronger type treatment.

Ebook Launch submitted Prize and Prejudice designed by Ebook Launch.


JF: An amusing and right-on-the-money design for this series of cozy mysteries. We often see covers that use models without their faces, so here it’s interesting that the woman’s eyes do a lot of the work of attracting us to the cover.

Ebook Launch submitted Crime and Nourishment designed by Ebook Launch.

Geree McDermott submitted The Swirling Red Mist: A Tale of Murder designed by Fantasia Frog Designs. “The cover design was was a team effort of five independent women.”


JF: Well, it does stop you, and that’s half the battle. Pro tip: Remove the colon after the title, it’s not needed and looks amateurish.

Gordon A. Long submitted Ocean of Grass designed by Mihaela Voicu “The first book in a 7-volume epic. The wooden surround will tie the first trilogy together, the title font will brand the whole series.”

Henry Blosfelds submitted The Thirst of Hank van Dorm designed by Henry Blosfelds.


JF: Yes, but what’s the book about? This cover gives us nothing to go on.

Ihor Tureha submitted Advent designed by MiblArt. “Fiction apocalyptic book cover design. The illustrated cover represents the scene of the composition when the main character tries to fight down the advent of trolls by himself. This is the first book in the series, and to be continued…”


JF: Captures the action pretty well.

Jacqueline Church Simonds Simonds submitted THE PRIESTESS OF CAMELOT designed by Vagabondae Press/Strange Fictions Press. “This is the prequel to my Heirs of Camelot series, which we’ve created a particular look for. But how to incorporate a visual that harmonized the main series look with something that is Arthurian Fantasy? I think they achieved it with this cover!”


JF: Beautifully balanced, with a perfect font and a clear focus. Nicely done.

Jaka Tomc submitted 720 Heartbeats designed by Matic Lipar.


JF: An intriguing cover with a strong “brand” that uses the mirror images well.

James Bailey submitted The First World Problems of Jason Van Otterloo designed by Dane at Ebook Launch. “This is a humorous story of a teen whose great ambition is to save up enough money to move out and escape his parents. Over summer vacation, he takes any job he can get because he’s not quite 16 yet. One of his ill-fated jobs is as a dog walker, hence the dog taking a leak on his shoe.”


JF: Charming and well integrated, the hand lettering helps to create a unique look. ★

James Egan submitted Dungeon Lord: Abominable Creatures designed by James T. Egan of Bookfly Design.


JF: Great illustration, but the stacks of type with different fonts and treatments dissipates the effect.

James Egan submitted..

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