Contest: Design the Cover of My Book… and Win a (Real) Prize!

I’ll get right to the point: I would love to have a reader design the cover of my forthcoming book. The winner will receive a signed copy of the print edition (when it’s out) and $200. I will post the winning designer’s entry and those of the runners-up on this site along with links to your websites/businesses if you’d like.

If you’re still interested, here are the details given to me by the publishers (and paraphrased by me). I’ll admit I don’t know what most of it means, but I hope it makes sense to those of you who do these kinds of things!

The color range is CMYK (not RGB).

You must follow the LightningSource International specs (PDF). If that’s a problem, you must provide the cover in its original file format so that we can adapt it for our needs. If you are using non-Adobe Suite software, please provide a non-flattened EPS file with all images and fonts embedded or converted to paths. File type should be PSD, INDD, AI, or EPS.

Resolution for print will need to be at 300 dpi (minimum). The target print size of the cover is 6″ x 9″. The spine design should be kept flexible to allow for adjustment once the exact width is known. You can leave the back cover to the publishers so that we can add endorsements, a bar code, the publishers’ logo, etc. Please keep track of the fonts used so that we can have consistency when designing the back cover and spine.

The title is: The Young Atheist’s Survival Guide: Helping Secular Students Thrive.

I need the finished design by next Sunday, November 11th. You can send your designs to me via email.

Thanks in advance!

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Trickster Goddess

    What is the title and subject of your book?

  • brianmacker

    I think it should be zombies eating babies. Get on it people.

  • Hemant Mehta

    It’s in the post! *The Young Atheist’s Survival Guide: Helping Secular Students Thrive *is the title. The book is about the struggles young atheists go through, how they can overcome them, and how the rest of us can help.

  • Non-theist from Serbia.

    Very probably I will try and make some design. It’s a tight deadline, but maybe I’ll catch some time off work. :D I’m a designer by profession. It would be great to help out a fellow atheist.

  • Hemant Mehta

    I would really appreciate it! I know it’s a tight deadline, so I definitely thank you for anything you can do.

  • WildRumpus67

    Oh, please make a tumblr of submissions Hemant! I’d sure like to see the choices you have!

  • Sailor

    It is better to get the art as a jpg or tiff in case the person producing it is not savvy in creating the right pdf. Then it does not matter if it is RGB instead of CMYK as changing it takes one second.

  • Gam

    I’m sure you will
    find people that will design something for you, but I as a designer 
    wouldn’t recommend design contests. It can in many cases be
    detrimental to both parties for several reasons; Professional
    designers rarely submit to contests, so you are gonna get submissions
    from armatures for the most part.

    You are kind of asking
    designers to work for free (which is fine if someone wants to), but
    in what other profession would you ask that kind of thing? I don’t
    think you would ask random people to write a chapter of the book and
    then pick the best one and only pay him. Or when you go out for a
    meal, ask 10 people to cook for you and only pay the best one.

    might get some cool design in a design contest, but I think working
    with a designer and having a real back and forth with them will give
    you a better result. That way the designer can make a design that
    actually fit your product.

    $200, isn’t that a bit low for a
    cover design considering it’s a major part of the identity of the
    book? It can be a big factor deciding if people are gonna pick up
    your book or just gloss over it.

    Also you are kind of late to
    ask for this, I mean 7 days before deadline you suddenly remember you
    need a cover? How long did it take to write the book? Surly you could
    have started looking for a designer for your book a long time ago. If
    it wasn’t so close to deadline I would have suggested that you asked
    for designers that would be interested working with you and ask them
    to send there portfolio to you. So you could find a designer with a
    style you like. But maybe it’s a bit to late for that.

    I would
    suggest you watch this video to get a little bit of insight in to the
    world of a designer.

    which you the best of luck and hope you get some good designs.

  • Hemant Mehta

    The design can’t be done with a title and that was finalized this weekend. I know it’s a short time for submission, but I think (hope?) some people are more interested in the idea of this book than just adding a line to their resume and that’s why they might consider doing this. Not for the money. And the entries that don’t win will still get publicized and linked to. If all else fails, Patheos can put something together, but I wanted to ask readers first.

  • Gam

     I do support your work and hope you get some good designs, I just wanted to share my view on design contests. If I had unlimited hours of the day I would gladly submit a design, but sadly I don’t.

    Contests are great for design hobbyists, less so for professionals. And I would suggest that when you are deciding on a design your readers submitted, at least have someone trained in graphic design look at it. As a design might look good to an untrained eye but still having technical flaws that needs to be addressed.

    Again good luck with the book and keep up the good work.

  • Drew M.


  • Sindigo

    Artwork should be created in the correct colour model. Usually CMYK for print and RGB for screens. You can’t just switch between them without problems. Also, I would have thought that asking for artwork in .pdf format would eliminate some of the chaff straight away.

  • Sailor

    ” so you are gonna get submissions
    from armatures for the most part.”
    I guess they are going to be all wound up.

  • Bridget Gaudette

    Ooooh! I’m in!

  • Sailor

     It is true you can get some color conversions on the switch. However as a publisher who has to deal with a lot of third party graphics I prefer that than a PDF that looks fine and prints fine in house an then drop text on final

  • Sindigo

    As a designer I’ve seen some horrible effects with the conversion but good point about pdfs. They suck at transparency too. 

  • Gam

     Oh I made a typo, my comment is now invalid. ;)

  • The Good Atheist

    gotta tell you, 200 is way on the low side. I paid more money than that to have my cover colored for pete’s sake.

  • The Good Atheist

    In today’s new media, the cover is actually more vital than ever. You’re not just selling a book: you’re selling an idea. I agonized over my cover for 3 months, and paid good money to have it colored the way i wanted. This allowed my pre-sale to reach roughly 20k. Image is important, and I really think you should extend your deadline. 

    As for what I would actually do with the cover, had I more time or assurances that my design work wouldn’t be simply for naught, then I would design the cover to look a little bit like a “survival guide” but with atheist images:×395

  • Hemant Mehta

    I would argue the cover is less important than just putting the book out there to the people who read this site and to other friends in the blogosphere. I know what you’re saying, though. At this point, the book just needs to get out. It’s just not worth it for me to delay it a couple more months to get a “better” cover. Plus, for the Kindle, I didn’t think the cover was as big a deal.

  • The Good Atheist

    you know the phrase “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”? We use that phrase to remind people NOT to do that, because we all do. Just because the important stuff is between the pages, doesn’t mean you can casually ignore what is still the most important aspect of any book: the presentation. 

    I disagree strongly that a book just “need to get out”. It needs a focused ad campaign, a decent old media blitz (with a great press release)  and don’t think for one second that these guys aren’t shallow like every other human being. 

    As for Kindle readers, what that means is that your book has to look good when shrunk down to the tiny sizes they appear on amazon. That’s another layer of consideration. Remember that your book is competing with tons of other content. The best way to ensure that you get the attention it needs really starts from the cover. Ignoring this element is a big mistake, man. Take this advice from someone who launched an extremely successful pre-sale campaign, and with only 1/10th of the size of your audience. You’re making a mistake with this cover thing, I guarantee it.  

  • Gam

     I do agree with The Good Atheist (Jacob from the podcast I assume?), people gravely underestimate how much image matters. How to package a product can be just as important as the product it self. And it’s amazing how fast we unconsciously judge things just by their looks and most people don’t even realize it.And I think it’s more important now than ever. There are more and more stuff competing for our attention, so if you don’t stand out people wont even see your product. After all you are asking people to both put their time and money in to your book and the cover is the thing that is going to persuade them it’s worth it.I can only agree that it’s a mistake to have the cover be a last minute thing.

  • Marco Conti

    I think this is a fantastic idea. I am not a book cover designer but I have designed some book covers (sounds like a limerick or Dr. Seuss) and I have done some research in the matter at the time. What a lot of the pro’s here are suggesting is very true and valid.

    It’s also true that after writing a whole book you just want to see it go out and move on with your life. Hanging on to it for another 2 months sounds like torture and would likely hold you back on any new project you want to tackle.

    However, this is one of those moments in life where  you wish that you could go back in time and do things differently. Only, you are already back in time and you do have the chance of doing things differently. 

    That said, I think the survival guide idea is the best one I heard so far. Also relatively easier to do than many other covers.

  • Jeff P

    An artistic representation of Bruno being burned at the stake might be an eye catcher.
    Something like the following.  I don’t have the time or skill set to give an adequate image though.