We thank experienced graphic designer Scarlett Rugers from Booksatscarlettrugers.com for taking her valuable time to write a comment on each of the amazing cover finalists this month. I gained valuable insights from her analysis. Here it is without further ado:
So beautifully designed. The typography is strong, the layout and composition echoes a retro style. The detail is phenomenal, especially on our jet-packed hero. What I love most about this book cover is the movement and direction. Rockets in the background, zooming past a planet, very cool.
The Skyracos Dicta:
I admit I’m a fan of these style covers. Ones that make you feel you’re actually holding an element of the book. The corporate design, while remaining vintage, is very clean and the added effects of age definitely work to its benefit.
Lost in Shadow:
Spooky and easy to read: establishes a good, solid design right off the bat. It does speak more fictional thriller to me than romantic paranormal fantasy, but it does get me interested. The shades of blue and green work beautifully, and the smoke gives it that extra sense of mystery. Very nice.
This cover is awesome, and I love the type and focus on the hand. I didn’t even realise this was illustrated until I looked closely! The concept is intriguing and I adore the title style. I would have liked to see an extra colour in the name or title, or perhaps on the button where the finger is pressing.
A very glamorous cover but, like its trend in the genre, a standard image of a girl which tells me nothing about the book. The gradients in the title make it very hard to read against her hair and skin, while the end of ‘book one’ disappears below it. I do like the butterfly but it blends in with the title because of its black and orange colouring. A brighter butterfly would have stood out clearly against the girl. It doesn’t need much to make it a little more original, and to make the type pop out.
My Deliberate Mistake:
Beautiful and soft and, once I read the blurb, a little bit creepy. This is not a bad thing. The addition of the gold fish is really important as it is the vital element which lets the viewer know she’s underwater. The small details in this have made all the difference and have paid off.
The typography of this cover supports the edginess, by showing the shadow almost as a distortion. Beneath it is the line driven to a point, again throwing things out of alignment. This is all tied very nicely together by the wicked smile, the name placed in a comic book style. It definitely gets me feeling on edge, but I’m almost left wanting more. Perhaps increasing the size of the smile, so we don’t see the edges to put the viewer off guard just that little bit more?
This cover displays its genre very well, until… until I look and I’m pretty sure it’s an Earth floating in the top right corner instead of a moon which makes me ask, is it science fiction? I don’t believe it’s intentional and I’m sure it’s a moon, it just needs a little more clarity, a little less detail on the moon (perhaps just a white sheen) or to make it smaller, just off the horizon so it doesn’t resemble a whole planet. The title and author name is clear. I would love to see the effect of a sort of glow for the title, as if sitting close to the fire below it to make it just that little bit more dynamic. A great cover as is!
The Vampire Affair:
A great example of perfectly executed typography. The title tells us of the gothic/historical element (aka: vampires) while the serif of the name makes it modern and clean. A red tie symbolizes the threat of vampires, both in colour and in the way it’s pulled, almost like a noose. This cover doesn’t need anything more, it’s very striking.
As the Crow Flies:
The image says: excitement, danger and the title says: thriller. The use of grids for the type just needs to be tightened a little so it’s all in perfect alignment, otherwise there’s nothing to fault with this cover. It fills me with anticipation just looking at it, wondering if the climber is about to fall.
A visually stunning cover that looks great both at full size and thumbnail. The type seems a little close to the bottom, but otherwise is strong. Her nakedness, and holding a blade supports the ‘siren’ effect, and the colour would definitely be eye catching among its competition.
This is a great example of a clear genre cover. Thriller, mystery, suspense. Bold clean text and a simple colour scheme. I’m not sure the faded image of the ring is necessary as it’s very hard to make out. The text and image are in sync and that’s the most important thing.
Loving a Prince Charming:
This cover is so much fun. There’s glitz, glamour, gold, and detail. I just love all the small details that went into this. The type needs just a little bit of adjustment with kerning and layout, but this is insignificant detail to the rest of the design. I adore the curl of the page, I love the sky and the sparkle on top of the castle, I love the shine of the name, and the composition of the cover as a whole. Really great work!
It doesn’t initially look it but there’s a lot going on with this cover. The type is much too close together and needs to breathe, the gradient white behind it takes up too much of the cover and overlaps the couple above, and the hat is clipped in an awkward way. The elements chosen to represent the book are perfect, it’s just the design and layout doesn’t quite work together.
Lady Elinor’s Escape:
The combination of images is strong, and I love the concept of using the chess board. The typography needs a lot of work, especially using the type face Hurricane for Elinor. Hurricane is a very hard type to use, and outlining everything in a heavy black stroke tends to be a bad typographic judgement call when you’re trying to make it visible in front of a dark and light background. I would stick with the sans serif for the entire title and work on other ways to draw out the title.
The Wanted Bride:
A fun use of typography, but as a general rule on covers stick with a maximum of three font faces for design, and if the title fonts are very decorative keep the name in a simple, clean font face. In this cover I’d adjust the name and the tag line to the same sans-serif or serif font face to keep the balance. At the moment with the size and font face of the name, it’s drawing attention away from the title. The image comes together really well; I love the concept of the beautiful bride in white but behind her is toil and trouble!
The Irresistible Temptation:
This cover comes together beautifully, but the title needs to be a little more readable. Adjusting the colour or making it a bit brighter would definitely improve it. The collage of the couple, the piano and the vintage background works wonderfully.
Her Fated Cowboy:
The image of the man with the rain and the lightning works really well (although I would prefer to see the lightning make contact with the ground instead of continue downwards). But the type on this cover totally disappears. It has to be brighter, and there needs to be a balance, possibly of two different typefaces. Having the one font face for the name and the title, especially when they’re both so prominent, means they compete for attention. Match a lowercase name, at a smaller size, with the title would work well. Also the title looks a bit stretched and the line height needs to be a little more so the words don’t blend into each other.
WINNER: False Idols:
When I first saw this cover I thought “EPIC”. My expectations are immediately transformed when I see a space man facing off an unknown, and I must know more. The faded hieroglyphic background doesn’t detract from the image, and the title and name is clear. Fantastic cover. The concept supports the title by giving the reader a jar in what a ‘false idol’ means. We initially believe a God of Earth but are soon set straight when we realise we’re not even on Earth.
Congratulations to Tony LaRocca. I do not post the names of the cover designers initially as it will give away which covers were designed by professional designers and which were designed by authors themselves, which may or may not influence the judge’s decisions. Now that the winner has been announced though I can reveal that this cover was designed by the author. He has a most intriguing website at: http://www.egotisticalproductions.com/
You can view his adorable (that’s my description of it) book trailer on his site…
Once again – I (Melody Simmons) select the best 20 covers for a month and post them on my site, then I invite a guest judge to choose either the best one or the top three – the choice is up to them entirely and I do not interfere in any way. I invite not only graphic designers, but authors, readers and editors as guest judges in order to ensure a variety of perspectives.