Hiu’s Shitty Covers: SPFBO 3 Finalists

I like making book covers.

Unfortunately, I’m not very good at it.

I’m fucking excellent at making terrible covers though, so I decided that I’d put my skills to good use and re-imagine the covers of this year’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off finalists. I’ve been sharing these on twitter over the past month, but this post will have the full collection (plus a couple of extra treats) for your viewing pleasure.

The SPFBO (or spiffbo, as the cool kids call it) is a competition hosted by wholesome novelist Mark Lawrence, which aims to raise the profile of several talented self-published authors through consistent exposure across the 10 participating blogs, and the prestige of the competition itself. It’s fantastic for readers and writers alike, and has helped increase the profile of many great and previously underappreciated authors – including Jonathan French and Josiah Bancroft, who have both since been signed by Orbit.

I do have one problem with the SPFBO though; it’s altogether too serious. In my humble, leafy, opinion… we need more fun.

On that note, I give you our new SPFBO finalist covers, handily placed beside the originals.

Sufficiently Advanced Magic by Andrew Rowe

Bookworm Blues Finalist

This cover was actually made a good few months ago, as part of the Resident Authors Bookclub (aka “RRAWR”) over on /r/fantasy. Andrew described to me a 1-star review he had received complaining about the book’s “GAY AGENDA”, and so I made him a new cover to print off and mail to his newest fan.

Chaos Trims My Beard by Brett Herman

Fantasy Faction Finalist


Butters has never looked so menacing.

I actually looked up quite a few vintage barber posters to get some inspiration for this one, and man… Those dudes back then had some sweet typography.

The Crimson Queen by Alec Hutson

Fantasy Book Critic Finalist


Do you remember Fairly Odd Parents? Well, you should. That cartoon was awesome.

I have always wondered why the Crimson Chin appears to have 4 pecs though. I mean, even the massive jaw isn’t as worrying as that. Is he some form of cow-person?

Jack Bloodfist by James Jakins

Lynn’s Books Finalist


This cover took far too bloody long to make, but I’ve managed to create a wholesome, noblebright counterpart to Jack Bloodfist – Jill Happyhands!

On that note, what smartass decided that “noblebright” was the term we’d use as the opposite of grimdark? Lightbright was clearly the better option.

Tiger Lily by K. Bird Lincoln

The Qwillery Finalist


Man, do you remember those old Disney World of Reading books? Bang, right in the nostalgia. I still have the little blue, foldey bookstand that came with them.

Seriously though, I re-watched Peter Pan with the girlfriend a while back and the scene with the “Indians” is racist as fuck. Disney ought to take the Tiger Lily character and make a great Native-American inspired movie as an apology.

The War of Undoing by Alex Perry

Pornokitsch Finalist


I like puns. Basically, all of these SPFBO covers exist because I wanted to make this one pun.

Oh, and I love the undo button, that thing has saved my ass so many times. Sometimes I wonder if I’d rather have an undo button or a copy/paste button in real life.

The Way Into Chaos by Harry Connolly

Ventureadlaxre Finalist


A friend give me a bowl with mixed Skittles and M&Ms once. They are no longer my friend.

This book did originally have another shitty HiuGregg cover… but let’s just say that I didn’t want the attention that such a thing would attract.

Where Loyalties Lie by Rob J. Hayes

Fantasy Book Review Finalist


One of the few redeeming features of The Pirate Bay is that their logo is free to use. It makes an excellent focus-piece for a book cover, if I do say so myself.

Big shout out to Steve Thomas of Klondaeg fame, who suggested the current tagline instead of my initial “don’t be a cunt”.

Pilgrimage to Skara by Jonathan S. Pembroke

Booknest Finalist


Scarborough is a fucking depressing place.

Nine-year-olds selling cigarettes on street corners, while their younger siblings try to find some shade to accommodate their hangovers. Parents lying motionless on the beach, not because they’re sunbathing, but because the drugs haven’t worn off yet. Seagulls terrorising the middle-class with their leather jackets and shite tattoos. Patrolling it all is a policeman wearing his helmet backwards, and a Burberry scarf tied like a noose around his neck.

Most grimdark books don’t have a chance of matching the hopelessness of the average British “holiday” town.

Devil’s Night Dawning by Damien Black

Kitty G Finalist


I actually really like the original cover of this book… but I’ll take any opportunity I can to repurpose Loki’s helmet. Sorry, Damien.

(As an aside, I’ve seen many allusions to “repurposing Loki’s helmet” by Tom Hiddleston fans on twitter. Twitter is a scary, scary place sometimes.)

Honourable Mentions

A Star-Reckoner’s Lot by Darrell Drake

Booknest Semi-Finalist


I have absolutely no regrets about this cover. None at all. I’ve actually petitioned Darrell on several occasions to print this cover, and hang it on his mantelpiece. No word yet on whether he’s gave in or not.

Tam has previously reviewed this book here.

The Eagle’s Flight by Daniel E. Olesen

Ventureadlaxre Semi-Finalist


Daniel is a very kind bloke, who has made his book free for download on his website. As a thank-you, I decided to make a better cover for him. Daniel responded by saying that he spent a lot of money on his original cover, and that he thought it was much better at representing the content of his novel than mine.

The moral of this story? Some people just don’t understand art.

I’ve previously reviewed this book here.


  1. The sheer skill of your work astounds me, good sir. The ability to articulate the finer points of each novel’s cover and transform it into a Dadist post-post-modernist work of art is astounding. Words cannot describe the colorful mixture of garish colors, cleverly constructed smattering of iconic motifs. Dare I say these should all be in the Louvre? Yes, yes, I do.

    I love these covers, Hiu. These make me laugh. Keep it up.

    Liked by 1 person

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