magpiemareth got their new book cover by running a design contest:
'Labyrinth Room' Fantasy/Steampunk Book Cover
Check out magpiemareth's Book cover contest…
I am an Alaskan resident and wilderness guide, who also writes fantasy novels. I was originally published through a now-defunct small SFF press, I received the rights back to those books (but not their covers) and am now publishing independently. My book The Year King (with its spiffy new 99 Designs cover design) was republished in 2020.
Deserting his regiment in the aftermath of an injury, Torrent is just trying to get home to his fiancée without being robbed or arrested. Reporting the illegal saltpeter mine he finds on his return might be valuable enough for the army to overlook his truancy, perhaps even grant him a pension. If he’s willing to betray Molly to make that report. For Molly, chemistry has always been more useful than magic, especially now that supplying the opposing side with gunpowder is the only thing keeping her from being ousted from her own farm. After two years apart, Molly knows it’s foolish to trust Torrent with either the mine, or her heart. Unfortunately, Torrent’s not the only one interested in Coriander Hollow. Between Torrent's desertion and her own illegal mine, Molly has to decide whose secrets she's willing to protect, and how far she's willing to go to protect them. And Molly hadn't counted on Coriander Hollow having secrets of its own...
This is an adult fantasy novel, that might appeal to readers of Genevieve Cogman, Naomi Novik or Katherine Addison. It's historical fantasy (I describe it as 'steampunk on a farm'), a little bit Cherie Priest meets Cold Mountain.
Book cover type
I am looking for a cover that advertises this novel as a fantasy book set in a historic setting - think 1870ish. The book takes place in and around a cave where the protagonist is mining saltpeter for gunpowder. I would prefer a cover that is not main-character focused, but is either (a) an abstract conception of the labyrinth like some of the design inspirations below, or(b) focused on a single image that speaks to the tone of the book, something like the Grace of Kings cover, or the First Girl Child or Second Blind Son covers(which are fantastic - they're both amazing, and give a really good sense of genre, setting, mood, even historic period) below. Or (c) an image of the labyrinth as described in the book. The labyrinth as described in the book is basically a Chartres-style maze carved into a rock floor in a large room in a cave. It's derelict, dirty, and it's got a chunk taken out of it where the floor is eroding into an underground river. I love the below image of the folks walking around a stone labyrinth, partly because of the angle, the long shadows, and the sense of scale. The cover could be a more abstract take on a labyrinth as well - like a knotwork or interweaving maze-like design like the Witch's Heart or Hazel Wood cover. Other possibilities for either a central image a la Grace of Kings or elements to include - a carbide lamp (eg something like the one pictured below except in this MS they're handheld, not attached to helmets). Or a cave cricket - fist-sized, all white, no eyes, kinda creepy. Lit candles, or matchbooks. General cave scenery, eg stalactites, underground watercourses or scenery etc. Wooden barrels, stockpiles of gunpowder, historic-looking ammunition, etc. (I absolutely do not want every single thing listed above, I am more looking for a design that would incorporate one or two in a cohesive, compelling way.) Regarding the characters - two main characters are twenties-age, caucasian, both with brown hair. If the protagonists are shown, they need to be wearing cold-environment clothes (e.g coats and long pants, no bare arms or cleavage, please). Characters are pretty damp and muddy for most of the book. Some specifics - the female lead wears a utility skirt (basically a female utili-kilt): knee-length skirt that has a bunch of pockets. The male lead has an amputated right arm - if he's depicted he would need to have his right arm tucked into the pocket of his coat to not conflict with the text. (his right coat sleeve is padded and sewn into the right-hand pocket). I am looking for a physical paperback as well as an ebook version. I am very excited to see what you come up with, so if you have any designs that speak to steampunk-goes-caving, creepy mazes, abandoned mines, claustrophobic locations, tarnished lanterns, or creepy eyeless crickets, bring it on! I was absolutely blown away with the level of talent in the contest that got me the Year King cover, and choosing the final cover was a VERY hard task. I will provide feedback on as many designs as I possibly can.
What to avoid
I do not want a 'protagonist portrait' cover. The protagonists can be included, but I don't want them to be the main focus. I also don't want a romance looking cover or one that sexualizes the leads (there is a romantic relationship between the protagonists, but it's not a main element of the book.) FYI, blatant copying of other designers' submissions OR blatantly copying any of the covers listed below will result in low ratings and the design will not be chosen.
It all began with a design brief.
A quick, interactive guide helped them understand their design style and captured exactly what they needed in their book cover.
Designers across the globe delivered design magic.
magpiemareth collaborated with designers to refine their ideas
When design entries come in, you can rate them so designers know what you’re looking for in your logo design.
99designs has great collaboration tools so you can pinpoint and capture your ideas
And then… they selected a winner!
Along the way, they met lots of talented designers…
We think contests are a super fun way to get design.
Recently completed contests:
Women of marrying age and fathers of daughters
Men, Women and couples (singles and families) ages 30 to 60 We want to book to appeal to the U.S and international read
The book is most often purchased by women who are between the ages of 25 and 54.
● All people entering midlife and seniors in the 60+ age group ● Health-conscious persons who seek natural, organic foo
Women over 18, as there's a bit of steam on these pages!
Leaders, both male and female, 30-70
25-65 year old business owner who knows they need to start making video for social media, but isn't succeeding in genera