Photo Contest: The Sequel


Well, that’s enough with the small talk. I’ll get right to the point. As many of you know, I am about as blind as a bat with cataracts and astigmatism, and I unfortunately lack the benefit of echolocation. Because of my… well, let’s just say visual limitations, cover design has always been one of the more daunting aspects of self-publication. That said, I believe I’ve come up with some pretty snazzy covers. I really like them all, but I think my personal favorite is the cover to Parlor City Paradise, my second novel. With my other novels, as well as with my 21 Sundays of Fantastic Football Food cookbook, I had a pretty firm idea of what I thought the covers should look like. That was not at all the case with Parlor City Paradise. For that one, all I really knew is that I wanted an image that reflected the setting, Binghamton, New York, and one that somehow evoked feelings of both hopelessness and optimism. How do you obtain such an image? I had no clue so I crossed my fingers, tossed a bunch of change in the nearest wishing well, and sponsored a photo contest. I was beyond thrilled with the results. I think that’s why I like the Parlor City Paradise cover so much. It came as such a surprise. I’m ready to be surprised again.

For many months now, I have been laboring away on the manuscript to Parlor City Payback, the first Parlor City Paradise sequel. No, Gloria, it’s not done yet. I am, however, preparing for when it will be, and part of that prep is another cover image. Because it worked out so swimmingly the first time around, I’m diving back into that same well once again. I am counting on my readers and any area shutterbugs and sponsoring a second photo contest. The criteria are very similar. I am looking for a single image that reflects the best and worst Binghamton has to offer.

I know what you’re thinking. What’s in it for me? For starters, you’ll get your photo submission on the front cover of what could be a bestselling novel. Hey, I can dream. You’ll also receive a signed copy of the book, a mention on the acknowledgements page, AND, you will have the opportunity to name one of the key characters (some restrictions apply). You probably have other questions too and I will do my best to address them. If I fail, please send any/all inquiries to


Does it have to be a picture of Binghamton?

I won’t say it has to be as long as it looks like it could be. And, it doesn’t have to be a single photo either. You could take a few and morph them together. You’re free to edit or modify any way you see fit. The book is a sequel so I would like to see a little visual similarity. Beyond that, it’s totally up to you.


What are the submission guidelines?

Submissions should be sent to Please put PCP Photo Contest in the subject line. Include your contact info and a brief description of the photo(s). You may submit as many images as you’d like. The deadline is June 29, 2020, and a winner will be announced shortly after. I can only accept digital images and they should be sent as email attachments in the jpeg format. This is for a book cover so portrait layout is preferred: maximum width of 768 pixels and a maximum height of 1024 pixels. File size should not exceed 1 MB with a maximum resolution of 100 ppi (pixels per inch). I may require a larger/higher resolution image for any winning entries.


What am I allowed to photograph?

In a nutshell, as long as you are in a public place, you can take pictures of whatever you want. That includes people as well as private buildings and residences. That said, I would like you to try to avoid recognizable people and anything demeaning, defamatory or inappropriate. If you are still unsure, take a look at A Photographer’s Right from the Bert P. Krages Attorney at Law website.


What if none of the submissions are satisfactory?

I’m really hoping it doesn’t come to that. However, in the event that I don’t care for any of the images I receive, I do reserve the right to not select a winner.


What if it can’t be narrowed down to just one winner?

That happened with Parlor City Paradise and I would love to be presented with that same “problem” again. If the submissions are so good I can’t select just one, I reserve the right to use submissions on the back cover and/or inside the book. Anyone who submits a winning entry will receive mention on the acknowledgements page and a signed copy of the novel.


What happens to photos once they are submitted?

If you submit a photo, you agree to give Michael Sova royalty-free exclusive rights to that photo for the duration of the contest. Submissions can be used on blog posts, websites, social media platforms, or in any other promotional capacity. You also grant Michael Sova permission to use your name in connection with the contest and photo. If your photo is formally honored as a winner, you grant Michael Sova royalty-free exclusive rights to that photo in perpetuity. For non-winners, all rights revert back to the submitter once the contest has ended.


So that’s the deal. I’m counting on you to help me design another great cover. If you plan on participating in the contest, I would suggest that you start by reading Parlor City Paradise. I say that for two reasons. First, my daughter starts college in the fall so I need to sell all the books I can. Second, to capture the perfect image, I think it can only help to have a strong sense of character, voice, tone, etc. I’ll give you a third reason too. It’s good! Give it a try and I bet you’ll agree.


Mike S.






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