#SPFBO Cover Competition


If you’re familiar with this blog you’ll be aware that for the past three years I’ve taken part in the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO) created by Mark Lawrence (check out the details here).  Basically the SPFBO is a competition for self published authors.  Each year 300 books are submitted, 10 judges are awarded 30 books each, each judge submits one book to the final stage and finally one book, with the highest rating wins the competition.  As the contest begins we have a cover competition.  Below are the 30 covers for my books (list of titles and authors can be found here). I will be choosing 3 covers from the titles below to submit for the contest.  I already have 3 in mind and will post my choices on Friday – but, I want to give the authors a chance to check my list and ensure I have the most uptodate covers.

So, here they are – and there are some lovelies to feast your eyes on:

HighBarrensrebel's bladellightdawningThe Sangrook Sagathe lostsentinelcursedwishesHeart of the DestroyerSolace LostA Wizard's ForgeunderordshawsavageswordsForsaken KingdomSanctuary's FiendSorcerers' IsleHow to go to Hell in 10,000 Easy Stepscross fireShadow of a SlaveArgenterrapurplehazeclockworld


songsofsworn to theAnempiredeadmarshplumstonecovers_Dark_Oak_Jacob_Sannox_004-3victorboonedarkofwinterParagonTheBastardFF


26 Responses to “#SPFBO Cover Competition”

  1. Tammy

    There are some really good covers this time. By far my two favorites are High Barrens (although I’m not crazy about the font) and Clockworld: The Iron City. I also really like Sworn to the Night, Songs of Insurrection, A Wizard’s Forge and Under Ordshaw. Good luck everyone!

    • @lynnsbooks

      You’ve managed to pick some excellent covers – it’s so tough choosing three!
      Lynn 😀

  2. sjhigbee

    Ooo… the standard just continues to get higher! I love A Wizard’s Forge, Clockworld and Under Ordshaw. Happy reading and I hope you continue to enjoy this competition – I don’t envy you having to make some difficult decisions.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yep, what was I thinking! There are some good covers here – it’s going to be a difficult choice.
      Lynn 😀

      • sjhigbee

        But it looks like you have some wonderful reading ahead of you! Once more, huge respect for what you do – I think it’s marvellous!

      • @lynnsbooks

        Thank you 😀

  3. Carmen

    So many beautiful covers to choose from! 🙂 I love the ones of A Wizard’s Forge, Forsaken Kingdom, Kingshold, and Songs of Insurrection. If you press me to choose three, then I can do without Kingshold’s. I hope they are as great as their covers. 🙂

  4. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    The crop of covers get better next year. I think everyone knows the bar has been raised!

  5. Kathy @Pages Below the Vaulted Sky

    Oooh gorgeous coverwork on some of these! And “How to Go to Hell in 10,000 Easy Steps” has me intrigued…:D

  6. Zezee

    Wooo!!! Some great covers there. My favs: A Wizard’s Forge, Purple Haze, Kingshold.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Some great ones to choose from – it was so difficult to narrow it down. I was like, ‘can I have six or maybe seven covers?’
      Lynn 😀

  7. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    On the strength of these covers alone, I would love to know more about these books, because they all look very, very intriguing… 🙂

  8. vacuouswastrel

    Some terrible covers there… but some surprisingly decent ones as well!
    [of course, mainstream fantasy novels also sometimes have atrocious covers – I’ve seen some that were far worse than these*]

    Ones I found interesting:
    High Barrens – bland, but pretty. The font is… i’m not sure. On the one hand, it’s a very cliche, cheesy TSR fantasy font. On the other hand… it’s a nostalgic TSR fantasy font.

    Light Dawning – good painting, ruined by that TERRIBLE tag line. Which is in the wrong font, in the wrong place, with the wrong words (just repeating the title but worse). Have I seen that painting before?

    A Wizard’s Forge – on the one hand, it looks like a bland, modern commercial cover of a forgettable fantasy novel. On the other hand… it does look like a professional, commercial cover. And as modern commercial covers go, it’s actually not bad – it certainly draws the eye with its vividness, and even introduces an element of intrigue (is her hair being liquid metal just a metaphor, or is this some sort of magical thing?)

    Under Ordshaw – not quite right, but a good attempt at an arty, pretty cover. And has an inbuilt hook.

    How To (etc) – I don’t like the title, and I don’t really like the cover, but I will say that seeing the cover made me more positive about it than the title alone would have done. It’s… limited and cheap, but has good graphic sense and makes the most of what I assume was a tiny budget.

    Shadow of a Slave – it’s not exactly a good cover, but it is a nostalgic one. That font, that cartouche! With the painting, could easily be an early 2000s reissue of a TSR novel. Probably Ravenloft?

    Purple Haze – so close. I don’t think it quite works – a bit too cartoony, particularly with the figure? But I like the idea. And that sort of striking but simple ‘poster’ design is probably a good way to go with a limited art budget (c.f. your banner this year!). A lot of collector’s editions of things go that way.

    Clockworld – again, almost. All the elements good, but a bit over the top. The giant clock dominating everything sort of pushes it into ‘Dr Who novelisation’ territory for me. But to be fair, a lot of commercial books look like that now. [and provides another tip for prospective authors with small art budgets: you can get mileage out of stock photos! (or your own)]

    Kingshold – almost. Good painting, though SLIGHTLY too cartoonish for my tastes (looks digital?). Loses out on fonts and design, though. The font is uninspiring, and with an unstriking colour and no sort of graphical differentiation (old-school fantasy covers had a reason for those cartouches!), the writing fades too much into the painting.

    Song of Insurrection – not good, oddly, given that some elements are very good. A few things are wrong, but I think the biggest is just that it’s almost impossible to have a cool-looking, non-ironic cover with quavers on it..

    Sworn to the Night – meh. that’s a good meh. Looks professional. But unexciting

    Empire of Tears – cliché, but pretty good. Interesting enough, I think, to stand out. Main font too ostentatious, but never mind.

    Dark Oak – again I’m not 100% on the fonts (is that a colour gradient!?). But overall… yes, I like that one. Dramatic, without being over-the-top.

    Victor Boone – as with the title, this cover makes me think “I shouldn’t like this book, but I might…” – that’s pretty good graphic design, and it really fits the title.

    Dark of Winter – OK. But don’t do that with the red letter. And don’t do that with the pretend stamp on the front.

    Paragon – that’s an unusually nice sword hilt. Nice fabric wrapping. I’ve no feelings about the cover at all, though. I guess it follows the lead of the title: a bland but adequate “don’t mess up” approach. Which succeeded.

    If I had to pick three… I really don’t know. If I could pick six, I’d go with High Barrens, Under Ordshaw, Wizard’s Forge, Victor Boone, one of either Kingshold or Dark Oak, and, just for nostalgia, Shadow of a Slave.

    Maybe I’d go different depending on the objective. If we’re going with “best covers”, I might go High Barrens, Under Ordshaw and Wizard’s Forge. Maybe swap in Victor Boone for one of them. If we’re going with “most likely to make me buy”, I’d take out Wizard’s Forge (it’s a good cover, but probably for a book I’m not the target audience of), and swap in Shadow of a Slave just out of curiosity, or Kingshold if I’m feeling less whimsical.

    I wonder if it’s a coincidence that many of the better covers, imo, also have the better titles, imo? High Barrens is certainly leading the way after the first two rounds (title and cover, that is… round three being the, you know, actual words in it), although I will say the cover is totally NOT what I was expecting. The title suggests something harsh, brutal – a post-apocalyptic western, perhaps. But the cover suggests something soft and dreamlike and old-school. I’m intrigued.

    *possible worst: American editions of Hobb’s Rainwild novels. Ghastly dragons that look like 3D gifs from 1992 photoshopped onto background paintings…

    • Lisa

      I think it’s important to remember that these are all self-published, and I’m sure many of these are more budget options. That said, I agree that some are pretty boring, standard fantasy fare. People seem to like Wizard’s Forge, but it feels generic. I like the nostalgia of Shadow of a Slave’s nostalgic factor. I also like Solace Lost, which has a more unique feel and cool use of font (the O matches the highlights in the woman’s hair)

      • @lynnsbooks

        I see what you mean about Wizard’s Forge – it feels like there are similar covers out there from the larger publishing houses, but, it draws the eye and to me that’s the primary function of the cover really. I think there are some great covers this year – and the other finalists are great – it’s going to be tough to choose.
        Lynn 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      Thanks for the comments – there are some good covers, Under Ordshaw I liked too. I liked the nostalgia of Shadow of a Slave, well, I could have chosen quite a few but eventually I went back to my first impressions and they were the ones that really stood out to me at first glance. You should stop by Mark Lawrence’s blog and check out the other finalists – there are some really impressive covers this year.
      Lynn 😀

  9. waytoofantasy

    That first cover is gorgeous. I’m partial to the contrasting orange and blue.

  10. #SPFBO – Cover Competition | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] almost impossible.  At the end of the day there are some quality covers – check them out here.  I eventually narrowed it down to about eight contenders but the three I’m entering into […]

  11. bkfrgr

    I like the covers for High Barrens, Under Ordshaw and Kingshold (gotta love that tagline). All fairly standard fantasy covers, but I’m a fairly standard gal, so it’s to be expected.
    I’m really impressed with how great most of these covers are though … I confess (sheepishly) I wasn’t expecting them to look so good … 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      I also liked those covers – it was difficult to choose to be honest. And, yes, some of these covers are really good.
      Lynn 😀

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