The Guardians of Eastgate

Book 1 of The Seers Series

Cover design: One Service Indie Authors Can’t Afford to Skimp On

Cover design is one service new and aspiring indie authors can’t afford to skimp on. We often start out with limited resources, trying to decide which services we need, and which we can do without.

There are many things you can do on your own if you are patient and willing to learn. However, unless you are an accomplished artist or graphic designer as well as a writer, you will want to choose a professionally made cover. A poorly designed cover can cause readers to overlook or turn away from a book that might otherwise have great content inside.

Your cover is the first thing readers will notice about your book. It needs to be attention-grabbing and indicative of what the readers will find inside. It needs to hook people. It is said that the cover is what gets readers to pick up the book and flip it over to read the synopsis on the back cover, and it’s the synopsis on the back that convinces the reader to look inside.

Aside from the art itself, there are other considerations that should not be overlooked. These include, but aren’t limited to, color scheme, font, text size, and how easy it is to see the art and text when the cover is in thumbnail size on Amazon. Get any of these wrong, and it could negatively affect your book sales.


There are different alternatives to book cover creation, and prices can vary greatly. You can buy a pre-made book cover from a reputable site by choosing from a large variety of options. You choose a cover that fits with your book, and the artist will add your author name and book title. You can find some relatively inexpensive covers this way, but the end price will depend on the artist and/or cover you choose, and whether you are looking for an eBook cover, paperback cover, hardcover, audiobook cover, or some combination of these.

The Book Cover Designer,,  is a site where you can purchase pre-made covers from a large selection. You can choose from featured covers or browse by genre or artist. Once a cover is sold, it will never be sold again, so you don’t have to worry about another author ending up with the same cover as you.

I purchased my cover for my Seers Series short story collection, The Guardians of Sterrenvar from this site. I happened upon an attention-grabbing cover that fit perfectly with my series. I originally only ordered the eBook cover, since I intend to add to the collection before releasing the paperback version. However, the artist has expressed willingness to add the paperback version when I am ready for it – for a fee, of course.

Some other sites I have found that sell pre-made covers, but with which I do not have personal experience, are:

There are plenty more out there still for those of you who wish to check out the options before deciding.

The other alternative is to find an independent book cover artist, which I did for the second edition of The Guardians of Eastgate. I found my cover artist on Twitter. I had seen her Twitter posts and examples of her work many times before I decided to contact her about contracting her services.

One benefit to this is that I will be using the same artist,,  for the subsequent books in the series, so that they are all uniform. She was also able to help me create my author and series logos, which will be included in all the books in the series. Also, I was able to be in contact with her regularly so that the cover fit with my vision, while still having that professional input.


There are a couple of drawbacks for this method for new indie authors, however. First, you need to make sure you’ve done your research, checked testimonials and reviews, looked at portfolios and so on. You can probably find an inexpensive cover artist on, for example, but that doesn’t guarantee you’ll end up with a quality cover. Do your homework.

Another drawback is that using a reputable cover designer to create an original cover from scratch can be more expensive and take more time than purchasing pre-made covers. The time and money cost will also depend on whether the cover designer works with photographs or creates original art.

One site I found where you can choose from pre-made covers or find an artist to work with to create your cover is They do formatting as well, which many cover artists will do.

In the end it comes down to what your budget is, what time line you are hoping for, and what you are looking for in a book cover. However, your book cover will be important enough, both for your professional reputation and your sales, for you to take it seriously and find yourself a professionally designed cover that is representative of both your book and yourself as an author.


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Guest Post: LITERARY AWARDS for the LITTLE GUYS by James Gault


Last month, we published a survey of the main literary awards available to authors from the large established publishing houses. But how can new independent authors get artistic recognition for their work? The good news is that there is a wide range of competitions open to books from small independent publishers, including self-publishers. There is of course bad news: there is an entry fee for just about all of them, the prizes are small, and they don’t benefit from the wide publicity given to the likes of the Man Booker prize or the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Vox Lit wants to publicise these less well-known events. Not just because we love to champion the Davids against the Goliaths, or because we firmly believe that good quality innovative writing exists outside the closed world of the big names. We really want readers to know about these awards, and hopefully seek out the winners and short-listed authors and at least consider buying and reading their books. If we can encourage readers everywhere to expand their horizons, we’ll have done a good job in keeping the written word alive, flourishing and developing.

Most of the competitions are run by US organisations, and we’ve only found one currently active in the UK. The Rubery Book Award claims to be ‘the self-publishers’ and independent publishers’ answer to the MAN Booker Prize and the Costa Prize’. It offers awards in five categories (Non Fiction, Young Adult, Short Story, Fiction and Children’s) and the entrance fee is £36. You can find more on this competition at

In 2017, Amazon UK ran its Kindle Storyteller Award (more at the link below.) This was open to all previous unpublished books published on KDP, and unusually it had a significant prize (£20,000). Unfortunately, there is no sign so far of it being repeated in 2018. )

That about wraps it up for the UK, but if any of our readers know of other UK competitions please use the comments box to let us know.

While there seems to a paucity of UK awards, authors who live in the US are spoiled for choice, and we have included only a small selection here. And ,even if you are based in another country, these competitions tend to be open to all English speaking authors who have their work on sale in the USA.

The Benjamin Franklin Awards, run by the Independent Book Publishers Association, offers a comprehensive publicity package to winners but no cash prize. Authors don’t have to be a member of the Association to enter, but it will cost them a whopping $225 as opposed to the $95 entry fee for members. The link is .

The IPPY awards (  ) is another competition where the winners benefit only from publicity, with no direct injection  of cash into their pockets.

Eric Hoffer Award ( ) does offer a cash prize for the winner, $2000, and the entry fee is a more reasonable $55 (chapbooks $40). There is also the publicity benefit, as the award is covered by the US Review of Books.

The Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group organise the Next Generation Indie Book Awards ( ) with cash prizes of up to $1500 in many categories. Authors pay from $75 to enter this one.

Shelf Unbound book review magazine runs a competition with a prize of $500 and an entrance fee of $50 per title. Over 100 of the best entries will receive publicity in the magazine. The link is .

For a $50 fee, writers can enter the Best Indie Book (BIB) Awards ( ) where the prize is a package of publicity goodies rather than hard cash. The goody bag includes a rather smart digital winner’s medal that authors can put on their web pages and book covers.

Finally, in this far from comprehensive list, we’d like to mention the The Kindle Book Awards from the Kindle Book Review website. This offers winners in eight genre classes a publicity package similar to BIB and the added benefit of cash prizes up to $750, for an entrance fee of $29.

Our survey talks about only some of what is available, but for writers and readers wanting to know of more competitions, there is a fuller list published by the Alliance of Independent Authors at . This survey not only lists awards, but it rates them as well, so a big thanks to the authors of this page.

So there it is: a list of some literary awards you may never have heard of. Let us encourage you, as a reader or writer, to follow up on these competitions and widen your knowledge. It’s the best way to  participate in the fascinating and engrossing book world of the twenty-first century.

Acknowledgements: Thank you to Erica Verrillo  from  ‘Curiosity Never Killed the Writer’ (web site for her useful article on US awards.

Contributed by James Gault



James Gault

James Gault is an author of short stories, novels and English Language textbooks. He lived, worked and taught for many years in Prague, but now lives and continues to write in the South of France.

He also runs the blog Vox Lit, where authors post comments by their characters on aspects of real life.

His latest novel, The Redemption of Anna Petrovna, is due for release shortly.


Visit James Gault on Amazon Author Central:

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About The Guardians of Eastgate: Seers Book I (Second Edition)



An ancient evil threatens the future of the realm of Sterrenvar. A race of people called seers has appointed themselves Guardians of the Realm, guarding the safety of their world and all the people in it. Maelona Sima is one of four seer champions tasked with protecting the four keystones from evil forces that wish to destroy them, thus leaving an immeasurable magical force free to be used against the realm’s inhabitants. Yet Maelona is more than a seer. She is unique in her world, and she is the best hope of survival for the people of Sterrenvar…the very people who once hunted down and killed many of the seer people out of fear and mistrust. Protecting the keystones is the first line of defense against the evil sorcerer who wishes to enslave the realm. Can Maelona, a guardian of the keystone at Eastgate, and her friends Blaez, a wolf shifter, and Gareth, a human prince, bring together their peoples to save Eastgate from destruction in this first book of the Seers series?



Congrats to the winners of my Amazon Giveaway for a copy of the Guardians of Eastgate! For those who missed it, stay tuned! I will be giving away more books as I gear up to release the audiobook and the second book in the series.



The Guardians of Eastgate Audiobook



The Guardians of Eastgate is now available to purchase locally in the Waterloo and Guelph regions at the bookstores below. Click on the images to visit the store websites:


The Guardians of Eastgate: Book 1 of The Seers Series, has won a Literary Titan Gold Award!  Check out the awards page here.













The Second Edition of The Guardians of Eastgate, Book 1 of The Seers Series, is now available
on Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble, in print and eBook formats!

Click the image to link to the book on


Click the images to link to the book on those websites



Click the widget at the bottom of the page to link to the book on Smashwords

Click on the image to sign up for my author newsletter, and recieve a FREE copy of my short story collection, The Guardians of Sterrenvar




Come wander the magical world of Sterrenvar, where swords & sorcery,

action & adventure, seers & shifters all await you.


Guided tours now available at online booksellers.