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You’ve heard the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover” but for indie authors, the cover is their most important marketing tool! I’ll be the first to say that nothing sells a book to me more than an enticing cover, and self-published authors (and their artists of course!) have been absolutely killing it lately with their covers. Just check out the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off entries for this year to see what I mean.

So in celebration of Self-Published Authors Appreciation Week, Nils and I will be taking a look at our top ten favourite book covers by self-published and indie authors!

Nils’s Selection

Dragon’s Reach by J. A. Andrews

Cover art by Deranged Doctor Design

This is a book cover that’s made to look like the cover of a different kind of book – an old heavy tome, bound in leather and steel, hiding ancient legends and tales of fantastic adventure. It’s gives a moody, secretive vibe, and once you’ve read the book, you’ll see how well the cover really fits the story.

Windswept by Kaitlin Bellamy

This cover, too, hints at adventure and legends. There’s the character in the centre, and the map and its symbols around him. It gives a sense of the story swirling around the hero, waiting to be told, and for you to dive in and explore it. Again, imagery that fits the story once you know it.

Reign & Ruin by JD Evans

Cover art by Tatiana Anor and design by Eric C. Wilder

Not quite your ordinary fantasy romance cover. There’s a sense that the characters in the image are tied up in something larger than them, and that we don’t see from the outside.

The Gods of Men – Barbara Kloss

Cover art by Damonza

Eyes and smoke! At first, that’s all you see, but then you look closer, and there’s all these little details emerging that you at first didn’t notice. This cover hints at darkness and secrets. There will be bad things happening to people in this story.

Finwell Bay by Nathan Lowell

Cover art by Alexandre Rito

A very different kind of space opera deserves a different kind of cover. The shaman’s staff is a central part of who he is, and the feathers and ornaments tied to the staff are important to it. The natural shape of the wood and the feathers make for a nice contrast against the text and the star-speckled sky.

Trudie’s Selection

In the Jaded Grove by Anela Deen

Cover art by Jenny Zemanek

To prove that readers DO judge a book by its cover, I was immediately drawn to the style and colour of In the Jaded Grove before I even knew anything about this book! In fact, I still don’t know as I haven’t opened it up yet, but it’s sitting very pretty on my Kindle. Covers with tiny details are some of my favourites, and I especially love the gradient of colour shown here.

Mazarin Blues by Al Hess

Cover art by Al Hess

Normally I would say it’s a bad idea to design your own book cover, but Al Hess throws this out of the window with this gorgeously drawn cover of the main character of Reed Rothwell. And again, this is another example of a book cover drawing me in before I even knew what the story was about. I kept seeing it appear on my Twitter feed and just HAD to have it. The cover to the sequel, Sable Dark, is just as wonderful.

Radio by J. Rushing

Cover art by Kelcey Rushing

RADIO was one of my favorite reads of 2020 and both the book and cover are dripping with style. I love the colours and simplicity of this cover which reflects the story perfectly. It offers you exactly what this story is; something sophisticated but dark.

Seraphina’s Lament by Sarah Chorn

Cover art by Pen Astridge

This was a hard one for me because so many of Sarah Chorn’s covers are absolutely gorgeous, but if I had to pick one, it needed to be Seraphina’s Lament. It captures Sarah Chorn’s writing style; grim, dark, but with splotches of colour and hope. I just love everything about this.

The Boy Who Walked Too Far by Dom Watson

Cover art by BLAKE and design by Shawn T. King

Another example of a fantastic book cover that intrigued me enough to slam that buy button. There’s so many amazing fantasy covers out there that Shawn T. King has worked on, but this one really stood out to me with its unique character and magically bizarre details.


Bonus: The Ravyn’s Words by Rowena Andrews

I know, I’m breaking the rules by adding in a sixth cover, but since this book isn’t getting released until November, I’m bending the rules! I love the black and white style of this cover which is both simplistic and full of detail and mystery.

Our Joint Favourite Cover

They Mostly Come Out at Night – Benedict Patrick

Cover art by Jenny Zemanek

When Nils and I compiled our list of beautiful book covers, there was one book we both chose and just needed to include. This is our second entry by artist Jenny Zemanek who really has an amazing art style across her whole portfolio.

So here’s why we both felt compelled by this cover:

Nils’s Thoughts: The art style of this cover brings to mind papercut animations I saw on children’s TV shows as a kid. Often, these shows told a version of some fairytale or other, and while I don’t remember the details, this cover drags up that feeling again. Magic forests, talking animals, bold heroes and evil witches.

Only, it’s darker this time. It’s no longer a children’s story, but something more serious. There may not be a happy ending.

Trudie’s Thoughts: This is honestly one of the most gorgeous covers I’ve ever seen. The detail is astounding and full of atmosphere – and that’s before I even open the book! Everything about this cover speaks of dark fairytales and myths, and it entices me to come sit around a campfire to hear them.

Okay, we stretched the limit of “top ten” but when there’s so many amazing indie book covers out there, it’s impossible to choose! What are some of your favourite book covers from self-published and indie books?

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