Musty Writing by Michaelbrent Collings

When considering self-publishing on Kindle, there are four things you must do (“Must”y writing – get it?  Ha!).  They are like the mustard on my hot dog: a non-negotiable element.  Without it, you may as well not even try.  ‘Cause I won’t bite.

Now, before I dive into what those elements are, I should probably tell you how I know about them.  So y’all know I’ve got street cred.  And mad skillz (part of having street cred is always spelling “skillz” with a z).

I’ve been writing for most of my life.  I sold my first paying work when I was fifteen.  Going to college, I won a bunch of creative writing scholarships and awards.  Then I became a lawyer, where my job involved mostly (wait for it!) writing.

Oh, yeah, and somewhere along the way I became a produced screenwriter, member of the Writers Guild of America (which is statistically harder to do than it is to become a professional baseball player), and a published novelist.  Throughout all this, I had a book that I really liked, called RUN.  And though I had done all the above, no book publisher would touch RUN with a ten foot cattle prod.  Largely, I suspect, because it was very hard to figure out how to market it: it was a sci-fi/suspense/horror/thriller/apocalyptic novel with romantic elements.  There is no shelf for that at Barnes & Noble.

But I believed in the book, dangit!  So I researched around, and discovered self-publishing through Amazon’s Kindle service.  I decided I didn’t have much to lose, since RUN was just sitting on a shelf anyway, so decided to try my hand at self-publishing an e-book on Kindle.

Within a few months, RUN became a bestseller, topping Amazon’s sci-fi chart, and eventually becoming the #61 item available for Kindle, out of over ten million books, games, puzzles, and blogs.  I also published a young adult fantasy called Billy: Messenger of Powers which has hovered on various genre bestseller lists on Amazon for the better part of a year now.  And followed those up with another e-book, and another, and another.  Some of the others became bestsellers, some didn’t.  But all have made money, and all have increased my fan base.

Now I don’t say this to brag, but I want you to understand I know a bit whereof I speak.  Through the process, I have learned the ins and outs of Kindle publishing (and e-publishing in general), learning as much from what didn’t work as from what did.  And that’s why I’ve come up with these four important things to do:

 1)  Make a kickin’ cover

This is one place where approximately 99% of self-published authors get it wrong.  Look at most self-published books, and they look less professional.  And like it or not, a lot of people go strictly off the cover.  You have about ten seconds to wow them with your cool cover before they click the button and move on to another book.  For the Kindle edition of Billy: Messenger of Powers, I spent days upon days designing the cover.  Everything from the cover image, to the typeface, to the composition of the elements.  It was critical.  And it paid off.  Same for RUN, and another of my books, Rising Fears, all of which have been praised for the fact that the covers are interesting enough to “hook” readers.  Some of my other covers aren’t as effective, or as professional looking, unfortunately.  And guess what?  They also don’t sell as well.

2)  Market yourself

Here’s a fact of life in general: people generally don’t give you things for free.  You have to earn them.  And that includes getting people to read your work.  When I wrote Billy, I spent over a month designing a website (www.whoisbillyjones.com) that was interesting, conveyed a message about the book, and had a look and feel that I felt would intrigue people and make them want to find out more.  Same with the website for RUN (www.seehowtheyrun.net).  And my own website, michaelbrentcollings.com, took even longer.  But that was only the start.  I also had a Facebook “fan” page, a Twitter feed, and did the rounds of book and genre conventions.  Not to mention doing interviews, podcasts, guest blogs, and generally talking to anyone and everyone who would listen.  You have to do more than write a book.  You have to create an event.

 3)  Have a grabby description

 ”What do you do when everyone you know – family, friends, everyone – is trying to kill you?  You RUN.”

 That is the description on amazon.com for my book RUN.  Two sentences that I spent an extremely long time writing.  Like the cover of your book, the production description is something that has to grab people, reel them in, and not let them go.  Some self-published authors think the best way to get someone to read their work is to describe every jot and tittle.  But in reality, the secret isn’t information, it’s captivation.  You have to intrigue your (prospective) readers.  You have to leave them with serious questions that they want answered.  Describing what your book is about is less important than creating a specific feeling in the mind and heart of your audience: the feeling that they will be better off reading your book than not.

 4)  Write something worth reading

This may seem obvious, but the fact of the matter is you have to have something pretty darn special.  I’m not saying this to depress anyone: I firmly believe that most people have great stories in them, and have the potential to learn how to tell them.  But make no mistake, it is something that takes practice, dedication, and perspiration.  Writing is a skill.  It is a discipline.  Anyone can knock out a sentence or two.  But getting those sentences to grab a complete stranger to the point that he or she is willing to fork over hard-earned cash to read them is another matter.  Let alone getting them to like the sentences enough that they want to tell their friends to spend their hard-earned cash on them.  Again, I really do believe that most people have it in them to do this.  But I also believe just as stridently that to get to that point takes practice, practice, and more practice.  I have spent thousands of hours learning how to write … and I continue to learn.  Any author who wants to charm people into buying his or her work has to be willing to put in the effort to make it happen.  Because without the skill to back up your work, no matter how good your basic ideas are, they probably won’t sell.  There are exceptions (that’s right, Twilight), but for the most part a book has to be extraordinarily well-written in order to get people to buy it.

That’s not to say that everyone will like your book.  Some people don’t like RUN, or Billy: Messenger of Powers.  Or Harry Potter or anything by Stephen King or even the bestselling book of all time (the Bible).  But if you don’t care enough to develop your writing skills in service of your storytelling, you can bet that few (if any) will like it at all.

And so…

… there you have it, folks.  Again, I think most people have interesting stories to tell.  But without doing the four things above, the great story will probably sit quietly in a dark corner of your closet.  And that, my friends, is no fun at all.

Michaelbrent Collings is a bestselling novelist whose books RUN and Billy: Messenger of Powers have been amazon.com bestsellers. He is also a produced screenwriter and member of both the Writers Guild of America and the Horror Writers of America. His blog is at http://michaelbrentcollings.com/blog2.html, and you can follow him on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Michaelbrent-Collings/283851837365 or on twitter @mbcollings.


You Have Nothing to Fear But That Big Hairy Spider Crawling Up the Back of Your Neck by Tristi Pinkston

The Top Ten Fears of Unpublished Writers:

10. What if my book doesn't sell?

9. What if the stores won't stock my book on their shelves?

8. What if no one will publish me?

7. What if no one likes what I've written?

6. What if I can't get this ending/plot/scene right?

5. What if I used lay when it should have been lie?

4. What if the computer crashes and erases all my work?

3. What if I can't write more than 40,000 words?

2. What if this is the stupidest story ever known to man?

1. What if I'm not really a writer?

I'd wager these fears sound familiar, if you're an aspiring author. You might have put them in different order, and perhaps have thrown in some things like "finding time to write," etc, but by and large, I think every new writer has these fears.

Now, let's look at the other side of the coin.

The Top Ten Fears of Published Writers:

10. What if my book doesn't sell?

9. What if the stores won't stock my book on their shelves?

8. What if no one will publish me?

7. What if no one likes what I've written?

6. What if I can't get this ending/plot/scene right?

5. What if I used lay when it should have been lie?

4. What if the computer crashes and erases all my work?

3. What if I can't write more than 40,000 words?

2. What if this is the stupidest story ever known to man?

1. What if I'm not really a writer?

Notice anything? Yep—the published author has pretty much the same fears as the unpublished author. If you're published, you may feel a little more confident over the whole lay/lie thing (I don't) and you may feel that you've got a better handle on your scene structures, but deep down, we're all the same. We all want people to like us, we all worry that our readers won't like this new book as much as they did the last, and we wonder if our publisher will or will not accept our latest submission. A published author feels nervous while waiting for that acceptance/rejection letter, and it makes our day when we hear that someone liked our book.

I'm not telling you this to depress you -- I'm telling you this so I can lead up to one simple, fundamental truth: getting published is not like waving a magic wand that will make all your problems go away and all your dreams come true. It will not make you more attractive, it will not make you an instant public speaker, and it will not ensure popularity. It will not boost your confidence. It will not make you a fabulous promoter.

You must work on all these things yourself.

You make yourself a better speaker. You make yourself good at promotion. You build your own confidence. And there is no reason on this great green earth why you should wait until you're published to start working on these attributes.

Tristi Pinkston is the author of nine published books, including the Secret Sisters mystery series. In addition to being a prolific author, Tristi also provides a variety of author services, including editing and online writing instruction. You can visit her at www.tristipinkston.blogspot.com or her website at www.tristipinkston.com.


Upcoming Events

*updated info* 

(This was soooo totally NOT supposed to go live this morning. I was still putting it all together. So if you read it already, skim through it again.)

It's the last Friday of the month, so it's time for the monthly post of upcoming events.

Do you know of a writing conference in your area or an open call for submissions that would would be of interest to LDS writers? If so, please email the information and link(s) to me to be included in next month's post.

Writing Conferences

Teen Author Book Camp,  March 10, 2012
Utah Valley University, Orem, UT. Teens only. 
More info at: http://teenauthorbootcamp.com/

Writing for Charity, March 17, 2012
Provo City Library, Provo, UT
More info at: http://writingforcharity.blogspot.com/

"Write Here in Ephraim," April 14, 2012
Greenwood Student Center
Snow College, Ephraim, UT
More info at: www.shirleybahlmann.com

LDStorymakers, May 4-5, 2012
Provo Marriott Hotel, Provo, UT.
More info at: http://ldstorymakers.com

Writers@Work Conference, June 6-10, 2012
Alta Lodge, Alta, UT.
More info at: www.writersatwork.org

Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers, June 18–22, 2012
Sandy, UT
More info at: http://www.wifyr.com/

Call for Submissions/Writing Competitions

Eugene England Memorial Personal Essay Contest
Essays that relate to the Latter-day Saint experience.
Deadline: February 29, 2012
More info at: SunstoneMagazine.com
(click on red box on calendar)

Writers@Work Writing Competition
For emerging writers in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.
Deadline: March 15, 2012
More info at: http://www.writersatwork.org/

Ender's Game and Philosophy
Essays to be part of The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series
Abstract Deadline: March 19, 2012
More info at: And Philosophy

Christmas Anthology (Michael Young)
Short stories based on Christmas songs
Deadline: March 31, 2012
More info at: http://www.writermike.com/

Steampunk Short Story Anthology
Looking for short stories in steampunk genre.
Submission period: April 1, 2012 through ?
More info at: Bloggin' Outloud

Wilderness Interface Zone
Looking for a guest bloggers and a variety of nature writing by LDS authors (and others).
More info at: wilderness.motleyvision.org


Brenda Novak's Annual Auction for the Cure of Diabetes
Donations wanted.
Deadline: February 15, 2012
More info at: brendanovak.auctionanything.com



My template is malfunctioning again!

So I'll be changing everything over to a very bland Blogger template for now until my lovely assistant can get around to creating something awesome for me.

She says it might be awhile. For some reason, she thinks paying jobs should get higher priority than non-paying jobs.



2011 Best Book Cover

Winner of the 2011 Readers' Choice Best Book Cover
as voted by LDS Publisher blog readers

Author: Laura Bingham
Publisher: Cedar Fort
Cover Design: Megan Whittier

Here is the award image that you may download for use on your website or blog.

Winner of the 2011 LDS Publisher's Choice 
Best Book Cover is...

Publisher: Daniel Coleman
Cover Design: Jodie Coleman
Here is your award image that you may download for use on your website or blog.

Congratulations! I'm excited to see the covers 2012 will bring.

2011 Genre Finalist Awards

Before I announce the overall 2011 Best Book Cover Winners, here is a recap of the genre finalists and the awards. Authors, publishers and cover designers may download the award image and upload it to your own blogs and/or websites, if desired.

Readers' Choice Genre Winners
(Click on the Genre link to see details about the cover.)

Genre: Historical
Genre: Mystery/Suspense

LDS Publisher's Choice Genre Winners
(Click on the Genre link to see details about the cover
& my comments about each cover.)

Genre: General/Women's
The Tomb Builder by E. James Harrison (tie)
Genre: Historical
Crossed by Ally Condie
Take the Silver Award if your book was one of the five genre finalists, but is not on the list for Readers' Choice or LDS Publisher's Choice.


Christmas Story Anthology Update

While we're waiting to see the final winner of the 2011 Book Cover Contest (and my list of personal picks), here's an update on Christmas Book #2.

First a word about Stolen Christmas (anthology #1). As most of the authors already know, Rosehaven Publishing helped me put this book together, providing the typesetting and ISBN number. We have come to an agreement to have Rosehaven take over the business end of this book and any future books that I create from our contests here—including this year's second Christmas anthology.

Some time in the next few months, Stolen Christmas will become temporarily unavailable while Rosehaven corrects a few typos and moves it from my account to Rosehaven's accounts.  

Stolen Christmas is NOT going out of print. It will be back up and ready for more sales before the 2012 Christmas season. I'll let you know and provide links when the new version is ready.

Rosehaven is also sending out a one-time royalty to all the authors involved with Stolen Christmas. There are a few authors we've been unable to contact.

If you are an author in Stolen Christmas and you did not receive an email from me in January about royalties, PLEASE E-MAIL ME ASAP.

Now for Christmas Book #2.

I've made the first decisions on the stories to be included in the new anthology which will be available for sale in time for the 2012 Christmas season. The following authors will be receiving an email from Rosehaven Publishing this week with the contract offer:
  • Amie Borst
  • Angie Lofthouse
  • Brenda Anderson 
  • Brian Ricks
  • Gussie Fick
  • Jennifer Ricks 
  • Jennifer Shelton
  • Janice Sperry
  • Kasey Eyre
  • Melanie Marks
  • Michael Young
  • Rob Smales
  • Teresa Osgood
  • Wendy Elliott

I'm posting this list so that when you get the email, you'll understand what it is.

There will most likely be additional stories/authors included later on, for editorial reasons—balance of story content and styles, length of book, or if any of the authors listed above decline the contract offer. I won't know this until Rosehaven has collected all the contracts and determines what else is needed.

Congratulations to the authors listed above—and I'll keep you posted on the progress.


A Sermon and A $50 Amazon Gift Card Contest

Today is the last day to vote for your favorite 2011 book cover. It ends at MIDNIGHT, Mountain Time, tonight. (Click HERE to vote.)

I'm seeing a lot of posts and tweets that say things like, "Yay, I made the finalists! Go vote for my book." And a lot of replies that say things like, "I hope you win! I voted for you like you asked."

While I'm grateful for the help in spreading the word, just a reminder, this should NOT be a popularity contest, as in "Because I'm your friend, I'm voting for you..."

Please, please, please...

As you spread the word, tell your friends to vote for the cover they like best. It may very well be your cover. But then again, it may not be.

I realize I can't control this and you may not be able to control it either. I mean, your mother is going to vote for your cover even if she thinks it's the most hideous thing she's ever seen. Just saying, please, encourage people to vote for the cover they find the most visually appealing.

End of sermon.

Now for the Whitney Reading Contest...

LDS Women's Book Review is sponsoring their 2nd Annual "Read 'Em All" Challenge and I'm signing up! I didn't get all of them read last year, but this year, I'm on schedule!

(See my sidebar? I'm more than halfway done.)

Here's the post with the details:
How to Read 35 Books in 81 Days and a Challenge

Let me know in the comments if you've joined too. I want to know how steep my competition is.


2011 Best Cover Finalists

The Readers' Choice in each of the genre categories are now going head-to-head for the 2011 Best Cover of the Year Award! They are listed below in alphabetical order. Use the poll at the bottom of the post to cast your vote.

Remember, you're voting for your favorite COVER, 
not the story you liked best or the author who is your best friend.  
Voting deadline: Wednesday, February 15, 2012; midnight, Mountain Time.

Publisher: Cedar Fort   
Cover Design: Danie Romrell

Publisher: Covenant
Cover Design: ??

Publisher: Peachtree Publishers
Cover Design: Barry Moser

 Embers of Atlantis by Tracy Hickman
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Cover Design: Mathias Kollros

Publisher:? (Temporarily unavailable;
will be back on market end of February.)
Cover Design: Jodie Coleman

Publisher: Cedar Fort
Cover Design: Angela D. Olsen

Janitors by Tyler Whitesides
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Book Cover: Brandon Dorman

Publisher: Cedar Fort
Cover Design: Angela D. Olsen

Publisher: Covenant
Cover Design: Christina Marcano
  NYC: Murder Brooklyn Style by Loraine Scott
Publisher: American Fork Arts Council Press
Cover Design: Daniel Silva

Variant by Robison Wells
Publisher: HarperTeen
Cover Design: ??

Wings of Light by  Laura Bingham
Publisher: Cedar Fort
Cover Design: Megan Whittier

IMPORTANT—Additional voting guidelines:
The free polls will only let me list 10 answers per poll, and there are 12 finalists. (Ooops! Didn't realize that earlier.) Although there are TWO polls posted below, I'm trusting in your integrity when I ask you to please only vote in ONE of the polls—either A or B, but not both.

Each of these books have won the Readers' Choice Award for their category. I will post the LDS Publisher Choice Awards for genre and overall cover winners after the voting is completed.


Final Day to Vote for 2011 Covers

Today is the final day to vote for your favorite 2011 Book Covers. There are 12 genre categories. If you haven't voted, please scroll back through the past several posts and vote in each of the categories using  the polls at the bottom of the posts.

Remember, we're voting for the COVER, 
not the story or the author.  
Voting deadline: Midnight, Friday, February 10, 2012.


2011 Children/Middle Grade Realistic Book Covers

Realistic, as in more realistic than straight fantasy, although a
few of these have some fantastical elements to them.

Please vote for your favorite cover using the poll at the bottom of the post. 
Remember, we're voting for the COVER, not the story or the author.  
Voting deadline: Midnight, Friday, February 10, 2012.

Publisher: Peachtree Publishers
Cover Design: Barry Moser
What I liked about this one is the traditional illustrative look and feel of it. I love the nose-to-nose of the cat and mouse which brings the focus right there. I also like the curved type of the title and subtitle. And the illustrations on the inside are darling! (Click the link on the title to go to Amazon, then click the "Look Inside!" option.)

Publisher: Cedar Fort
Cover Design: Brian Halley
I love that creepy guy behind the children. That grabbed my attention right away. The cloudy eyeball totally freaks me out—in a deliciously hideous sort of way. This would be a book that I would have stored face down when I was in elementary school. The one downside to this cover, in my opinion, is it feels a little busy. There's too much going on for me to have chosen it as the best in this category. But still, it gives me the creepy shivers every single time I look at it, so it HAD to be a finalist.

Publisher: Cedar Fort
Cover Design: Rachel Sharp/Megan Whittier
This cover would really have appealed to son when he was younger. I think the cartoony look to it grabs the attention of readers who want something fun, but not too deep. I like the illustration of the boy on the front. And I love those paint splats. Fun!

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap
Cover Design: Sally Gardner
I have really enjoyed all the covers in the Splurch Academy series. I think Sally Gardner does a great job illustrating these books. This one, however, has something special to it. I love the yellow that brings your eye right to the boy. I also love all those tentacles coming out of the pool. I think this cover hits the target reader perfectly.

Publisher: Cedar Fort
Cover Design: Jen Boss
I haven't read this book so I don't know if the cover matches what is inside but the title and the cover design match perfectly! Everything about it evokes long and lazy summer days, walking barefoot, maybe splashing around a swimming hole or picking strawberries. I love the girl's face and that big floppy hat. I love the font choices for the title, the mountains in the background, the farm, the swirly stuff. Often when you have this many items on a cover to look it, it can feel crowded and busy but this one just worked for me. I love everything about it and that's why it's my pick for this genre.


2011 Children/Middle Grade Fantasy Book Covers

Please vote for your favorite cover using the poll at the bottom of the post. 
Remember, we're voting for the COVER, not the story or the author.  
Voting deadline: Midnight, Friday, February 10, 2012.
Voting guidelines & details here.  

Hazzardous Universe by Julie Wright
Publisher: Covenant
Book Art: Kevin Wasden
This is a fun cover. I like the font choice. I love the connecting lines that look sort of like alien circuitry. (Not that I really know what alien circuitry would look like, but it gives me that feeling.) I love the placement of the two kids in the center, and the stylized illustrations. I also love the two aliens. They're fun and add to the cover without taking away from the human children. The internal illustrations are great too.

 The Horn of Moran by M.L. Forman
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Book Cover: ??
I love the colors on this one. I like the blue and purple together. I love the font choice for the title. I like the illustration and the way that face is sort of hidden in the black swoosh. (How many of you missed that? I did the first several times I looked at it.) I think this would definitely appeal to 9 to 12 year old fantasy readers. The series title, Adventurers Wanted, gets a little lost there at the top, but otherwise, this is really cool.

Janitors by Tyler Whitesides
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Book Cover: Brandon Dorman
Now this is one awesome cover! I think it's the best one by Brandon Dorman that I've seen. Great colors. Great illustration. It feels very 3D to me—those muscles just bulge off the page and the steam from the mop pot seems to flow right out at me. I love the title font and the way the "T" was done, but the author's name gets a little lost in the image. Otherwise, Totally Cool! This was almost a tie. I went back and forth for a long time between this cover and the one I finally chose, so I'm very glad it won the Readers' Choice award for the genre.  

Return to Exile by E.J. Patten
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Book Cover: John Rocco
This is my choice for the genre winner. Why did I pick it over Janitors? Because it gives me a little more information. The boy is running, as if he's being chased. That creepy tree and those creepy birds are pretty awesome. But the think that got it for me? The steampunk/clockworks imagery. I don't know if the story is steampunk at all (it's still on my To Read list) but the cover is fascinating and creates all sorts of questions in my  mind: What's he running from? Is he the hunter or the hunted? What do those clockworks have to do with the story? And Return to Exile? Really? Why? The cover alone put it on my reading list—and that's what a cover is for. Great job.

 Skipping Stones at the Center of the Earth  by Andy Hueller
Publisher: Cedar Fort
Book Cover: Angela D. Olsen
I love this cover. It, too, has a 3D feel to it. I like the dark red clouds (I'm assuming magma) at the top and the way the building gradually appears out of them and draws your eye down to the center of the image of the boy skipping rocks. I like how the rocks and the water are bigger, giving the image the feeling of depth. The only issue I have is that it's got an awfully long title that sort of takes over the cover. But given that, the the designer did a great job curving that top line of text down, then using the word Earth to almost point our eye down to the central image. Very well done.  



2011 YA Speculative Book Covers (Girls)

And by "girl" I mean these covers totally appeal to girls.
Boys probably would not be caught dead carrying them around.

& just a note...this was the hardest category for me to narrow down
because I loved so many of the covers in this genre.

Please vote for your favorite cover using the poll at the bottom of the post. 
Remember, we're voting for the COVER, not the story or the author.  
Voting deadline: Midnight, Friday, February 10, 2012.

As I said earlier, this was the hardest category for me to pick a winner. YA fantasy is the genre I read for pure pleasure, so I am the target reader here. It was hard to pick only five covers and of these five, it was really hard to pick only one winner. Every single one of these covers caused me to look again—which is what you want a cover to do. Every single one of them are on my To Read list because the covers were so intriguing that I had to read the promo/sample chapters. I'd already purchased four of them before this contest, and I plan to get the fifth one too. That is the power of a good cover.
Become by Ali Cross
Publisher: Ninjas Write Publishing
Cover Design: Ali Cross/Fanye L.O.
I enjoy YA paranormal stories and this cover captures the feel of that genre. I love the central character image—beautiful, intriguing. The author's name stands out clearly but doesn't detract from the image. I love the purple of the title and the way it provides a bright contrast to the darker blue-green-gray image. The short, one-word title dominates the bottom of the cover but, again, doesn't distract from the central image. I'm not sure I would have chosen the title font. I like the swirlyness of the B, but the rest of it is pretty basic script. And the bevel or outline blurs it a bit. I do like the script of the subtitle. Adds to the intrigue of the book and balances the entire image as a whole.

Crossed by Ally Condie
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Cover Design: ??
I loved the cover for Matched but I like this one even better. My eye goes right to that image of the girl breaking from the blue globe. So intriguing. It has movement and power. I like the way the fractured glass goes flying off the edges. The blue is a great color choice against the gray background, and the gradient adds interest. I like the simplicity of the title font, and that backwards R adds intrigue. Reminds me a little of some of the USSR imagery...(wonder if that was intentional). I like the Y and the I in the author's name. Her name is so small compared to the rest of the cover but the space around it makes it stand out. This is a book that I'd buy for the cover alone. So of course, it gets my pick for this genre. 

 The Forgotten Locket by Lisa Mangum
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Cover Design: ??
This cover excels at fontage. First, there's the title. AWESOME! I love the way the letters are different sizes and how the K fits into the C. That entire word is fantastic. I like the way the author's name is handled too. It has the feel of the time travel of the story. (Oops. Spoiler. Sorry.) I love the locket itself. Beautiful. I'm not sure why we have to have the designation that this is a novel on the front of the book (LDS publishers do that a lot. Anyone know why?), but since it is there, it's done well, filling up the space in a font that you can choose to ignore if you want. I personally don't love the colors, but they fit the feel of the story. 

Wings of Light by  Laura Bingham
Publisher: Cedar Fort
Cover Design: Megan Whittier
This cover tells me everything I need to know about this story. There's the castle in the background, giving us the time period, as well as the fantasy feeling. The bird is stylistic with a magical feel, and looks like it is both burning and rising at the same time. Cool. The colors of the title and author's name seem to be filled with light that pull them off the page. I love the title font and the way the letters seem to move and fly, like the bird. To a fan of YA medieval fantasy, this cover rocks! I loved it.

Witch Song  by Amber Argyle
Publisher: Rhemalda Publishing
Cover Design: Eve Ventrue
This is another cover that speaks directly to the targeted reader. That face! Oh my gosh! Haunting, sad, beautiful. The locket/necklace she's wearing draws your eye straight to it. The thorns that seem to pull at her, trap her, add intrigue. I like the title placement and font choice—spectacular. But I'd have made it a little lighter so that it stood out a bit more. Not sure I like the placement of the author's name. It gets lost in her hair. Maybe I'd have put it on the other side. But still. This is a great cover that put the book on my To Read list.

2011 YA Speculative Book Covers (Boys)

And by "boy" I mean these covers are more masculine and straightforward,
without a lot of the fluff you'll see on books targeted to girls.

Please vote for your favorite cover using the poll at the bottom of the post. 
Remember, we're voting for the COVER, not the story or the author.  
Voting deadline: Midnight, Friday, February 10, 2012.

The Anointed by  C.C. James
Publisher: Red Rover Books
Cover Design: ??
*This is the original cover, I think. If you click the link,
it goes to a different cover which I do not like as well.
Look at those arms. Every guy wants to have arms like those, and every girl wants a boyfriend with arms like those. Okay, my shallowness is showing, but still. Great cover image. I really like how the top of his head is cut off so I can imagine my own face. (That sounds sarcastic, but I'm serious.) I like the blue swirly smoke behind him. I love the font choice and the way the title pops in that dark black. Great cover. (And really, if you are the one making the decisions, please go back to this cover instead of the other one. Please.)

The Death Cure  by  James Dashner
Publisher: Delacorte
Cover Design: Philip Straub
At the risk of re-appalling some readers, this is totally a boy cover. My grandson thinks it's awesome! My granddaughter says, "meh." I tested it with some neighbor kids and got the same reaction every time. Which is really too bad because I think girls who actually read it will love the story too. What I like about this cover (even though I'm a girl) is the feeling that I'm about to be crushed. Those towers are so high, and the mountain so steep. And then the title and author's name are so solid and heavy. The fonts are solid too. I personally love it and think it's the best cover of the series.

 Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 by  Richard Paul Evans
Publisher: Mercury Ink
Cover Design: ??
I like the clean and isolated feeling of this cover. It matches the subtitle. I like the I in Michael that mirrors the electricity coming off the figure. I like that the young man is in shadow. I like the blues and grays together. It feels sterile and electrical. Very good choices.

 Slayers by C.J. Hill
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Cover Design: ??
I thought this cover was totally cool when I first saw it, even if I had no clue what the illustration actually was. I thought it was a spaceship at first. But when I picked up the book and studied it (yes, it was cool enough to get me to pick it up) I realized that's a dragon in there. Awesome! I like the font work for Slayers. I like the tag line at the top that you almost miss, but not quite. Sort of a whisper of a warning. Cool. Love it.

Variant by Robison Wells
Publisher: HarperTeen
Cover Design: ??
I'm not even sure I can verbalize what I love about this cover. When I first saw it, I thought, "What? Huh?" Normally, I don't go for the blurry stuff. And it's all blue-ish and sort of almost creepy. But. The red in the girls sweater caught my eye. That was kind of awesome. Then I noticed that the boy seems to be running, but the girl is looking behind, like she's afraid someone or something is after her. Intriguing. And where are they headed in that blurry forest? What's with that? And "Variant"? What does that mean? And the title is shadowy. You can see through it. It sort of blends, but not quite. That's cool. Is that a hint for the story? And then. And then. "TRUST NO ONE." That got me. Hook. Line. Sinker. The tag line pulled all the other items together for me in a way that I had to go get this book. I had to know what was going on in this story. Great, great job of reeling me in!