Scott Stoll logo world traveler. A bicycle wheel and the globe symbolizes Scott's journey around the world on a bicycle.
Breathless book cover floating above a global firestorm. Also pictured is a first-place gold medal for cover design.
Breathless: The Oxygen Apocalypse won first place for BEST COVER DESIGN (FICTION).

How I made the cover

Next Generation Indie Book Awards Winner. First place award medal.
Breathless won first place for BEST COVER DESIGN (FICTION).

The before and after

Update: I’m super surprised. Out of thousands of books, Breathless won a first-place medal for cover design from the leading non-profit book awards, Next Generation Indie Book Awards. I even got a $100 prize, which is going straight into marketing. Thank you. I live for stuff like this.

Below you can see the cover and alternate cover. Click on the images to enlarge and see the high-res version. You can zoom in even further by using the magnifying glass.

I love all my book covers, but this one has an extra amount of symbolism, which adds another level of meaning to the book. And I like to sneak in some hidden surprises, or Easter Eggs, as they’re called. Can you find any?

The book cover also becomes and important part of my marketing package to help potential readers get an idea about the emotional rollercoaster that awaits them. The image at the top of the page is part of my advertising campaign.

Breathless the Oxygen Apocalypse. Book cover. An image of a man living inside a giant jar with the last tree on Earth. Outside is a dead world that has run out of oxygen.
The final cover from 2023.
This illustration is a combination of dozens of images and a lot of painstaking Photoshop work and about five other programs to get it just right. I love this version because the symbolism adds another level of meaning to the book. My favorite detail is my favorite constellation. Can you guess which one? And if you look closely, you can see the jar is in a very unusual place. Can you guess where? 
Breathless the Oxygen Apocalypse by Scott Stoll alternate cover.
The original cover from 2012 before the rewrite.
I still really like this image and have used it as the half-title page. You’ll notice that I used the old jalopy and the oxygen tank on the new cover. However, the main image is a stock photograph that I purchased. Even though I added a lot to this image, I decided that I’d rather use a completely original image. Besides, I didn’t feel the tone of this image was quite right.

If you noticed, I’m having a little fun with my name on the front cover. I was a little nervous about this because I’m bending the rules of my name being clearly legible. On the title page of the book, I take this concept one step farther. I’m using the letters in my name to indicate that while carbon dioxide (CO2) goes up breathable oxygen (O2) goes down.

The logo for name in Breathless. I'm using the CO in Scott and the O in Stoll to represent carbon dioxide and oxygen.
The logo for name in Breathless on the title page.

Below is what a book cover looks like before it goes to the printer. Being a graphic designer saves me a lot of money, but I’m also suffering from decision fatigue. I think I like that flower. You can imagine the character on the front cover looking at it wistfully.

Breathless cover layout
Breathless cover layout created in Adobe InDesign.

And if you want to see how far this concept has evolved, here is an embarrassing first try. Visually, it looks stunning, but conceptually, it is all wrong. When I designed this I wasn’t sure what I wanted to call my book. Now, regardless of the title, the design is all wrong. It looks more like a different kind of apocalypse, either a supernova or a massive solar storm that would wipe out electronics.

The earth superimposed over an image of the sun looking like a supernova.
The first cover design.

If you’d like more details about the book and the science, please visit Breathless: The Oxygen Apocalypse.

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