Award-Winning Editor of Clarkesworld Magazine, Forever Magazine, The Best Science Fiction of the Year, and More

Pick a Cover

Just out of curiousity, which would you pick to be the cover? Click on a cover for a larger picture. We’ve been told that some people are seeing the pictures out of order, so please refer to the number directly over the image when voting.

Cover 1
Realms 1
Cover 2
Realms 2
Cover 3
Realms 3

If you can’t vote (I think you need an LJ account), please leave a comment with your name and choice.


More Cover Art


And here’s how it ended up…


  1. Cover 3 all the way. Though the first cover is more stylistic, I just love the colorful artwork and want to see it fully as a cover rather than cropped.

  2. Both 1 and 3 are really very nice, Neil.

  3. As others have said, both 1 and 3 are nice, but I think the colors come out best on 3.

  4. Oh, and I see you photoshopped the arrow sticking out of the little guy’s head…?

  5. Cover Three, definitely.

  6. Never choose covers with a poll! Never!

  7. I voted for #3, but I’d like to see it with the title at the top too, with the subhead at the bottom. Just a suggestion.

  8. But the word “Realms” is unreadable and foofy. If it must be cursive, make it a cleaner, more legible one.

    I almost went for the one with half a border, but the wave looks better when it’s more whelming.

  9. while i must agree with slappy’s advice about never picking a cover based on a poll, i mus also say that it was difficult to decide between 1 and 2.
    in the end, i went with 2, as i think that the full border looks just a tiny bit better.

    • Think of it as a product focus group. Just looking for feedback and opinions, not a decision.

      • ah, i figured as much.
        i’ve been meaning to ask you, are the covers of the first 12 issues going to be represented in the book?
        (after all, you’ve consistently had the best cover art of any magazine in the past year.)

        • Unfortunately, we don’t have the rights to do that. It will give the chapbooks something unique.

      • oh! also!
        i’ll have some money for you, next week.
        (it feels so strange to think that i’ll be able to actually buy books, again!)

  10. I know I’m totally bucking the trend here, and may get some flames in response, but I voted for cover #2. As much as I love the artwork, when I look at all three covers, it’s #2 that “pops” the most. That’s the cover I’d see on the bookshelves, because of the lighter framing. Also, the title and subtitles show up far more clearly on that lighter background than on the other two examples. FWIW, I think #3 would make a great small promotional poster or postcard for handouts at conventions.

  11. I’m stuck between two and three, largely because I feel the text is lost in #3. Are you trying to stick with a series look for all of these? If so, which of these are closest? I’d think the border would be easier to mimic.

    • This will be the first book in an annual series. There isn’t a set look for the series, but this may establish some of the basic design for future editions. #1 is probably the hardest design to carry forward.

      • If it’s going to be a series, then I’d definitely point you towards #2. That border and text treatment is very easy to carry forward from this point. While the full image treatment of the cover is beautiful, it will be very hard to create a distinct series look with it.

  12. I agree that the text is lost when you first look at number 3, but I think the artwork is still enough of an eyecatcher to overcome that.

  13. All three are beautiful images and each makes for an excellent cover, but I favor the first one because of the “doorway” effect created by the image upon the horizon. As if the child aboard the umbrella raft is approaching a fantastical realm.

  14. It’s weird, I like the third one best as an image, but I think #1 works better as a cover because you get the sense the boy is sailing (drifting?) into an open doorway.

  15. I like #1 best for a book because of the sense that the figure is “falling into the book.” It would really stand out on a bookshelf.

    I agree with whoever said that the cursive font needs a little tweaking. Mostly just the S, since at a distance you can’t tell whether the title is “Realms” or “Realm” with a little flourish at the end.

  16. Number two… but I note that this is an unpopular choice. Number one is the only one of them I don’t like.

  17. I like cover 3 best, EXCEPT – as a bookseller, I like title at the top better than title at the bottom. Allows more options for in-store display.

  18. Three or one. One is the punchiest; three is the most elegant.

    Number two is just too static. It completely kills the amazing you-are-there vibe of the artwork.

    And damn you, Neil Clarke, for continuing to pilfer artwork that I’ve got bookmarked. 🙂

  19. Number 1, definitely, for the same reasons that melodican, themachinestops, and joeboo_k say. Also, the boy in the picture is traveling to new realms, which provides a lovely comment on the title as well as the book itself.

    Besides, it’s more aesthetically pleasing than the other two covers, and the title stands out better.

  20. #2. I’m very traditional and tend to like things done the way they “should” be done. lol. For some reason #2 looks like a magazine should look like. That sounds dumb, but that’s my reasoning.

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