There’s a thread in the Meet Our Authors forums on Amazon that’s dedicated to talking about covers. As an indie author and reader, I’ve seen one too many book covers with a solid background color and they slap on the title. Or there are those book covers that have these convoluted images. I understand that most authors aren’t artists and are just learning how to use photo editing software like Photoshop. It can be daunting with all of its crazy features and tools. But I’ve even seen a beautiful cover, took a glance at the title, and deemed it looking amateur all because of the fonts.
Fonts are essential to a design. They can make or break the mood of an image and you need to make sure that the font is readable in any reduced size Amazon decides. You want people to read your title. Just because you like the font Comic Sans, doesn’t mean you should use it for your romance book. And if you do decide to use a busy image, there are ways to make your title pop out and still be readable usually if you change the font color to white or black, add a dropshadow, and sometimes you might have to add a border or glow.
I put together a mock cover that we will use as our example. If you need a closer look at the images, just click on them and they’ll enlarge.
You see the image. What do you think the genre of this story would be? Romance? Paranormal? Thriller? Contemporary? YA urban fantasy? It could essentially be any or none at all. Maybe the story is about time travel? For example purposes, I’m going to call our story, “Sympathy for the Devil”. It’s a great song and a great title that could be anything.
As I stated above, if this is a romance novel, do not under any circumstances use Comic Sans just because you like it. With romance, you usually want to go with something cursive. But try to keep the cursive simple! Don’t use an uber swirly cursive font with a lot of flourishes because remember: we want the reader to be able to see the title! We’re trying to sell a book here!
Maybe the guy is actually a vampire. Or the devil. I think publishing companies list that as paranormal nowadays. (I’m still trying to wrap my head around that). So, what do you think would make a good paranormal font? Interestingly, research shows a nice clean font like Times New Roman would do the job or something relatively clean with just a bit of style to it.
Thrillers tend to use a simple serif font as well and they like to make the title super big and most likely beveled. This is probably because most thriller novels you find at the bookstore have that engraved title that you can feel. They also like to keep their letters as close as possible without making it too difficult to read. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because the crowded letters make you feel enclosed like you need to run with the characters? Or I might be over analyzing the fonts with this one.
Contemporary/literary novels tend to use sans serif fonts like Arial or Verdana. It gives it a more light airy feel to it. They also tend to use fonts that are a bit more stylized than any other genre.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with fonts either! If you like a flourished cursive font, you can use that for a letter or two and use it in combination with something like a serif font to help capture the mood of your novel. What genre do you think this would be better suited for?
Take a look at your cover. You spent a lot of time picking out that perfect image that symbolizes your novel. Does the font help convey what genre it is or at least the mood of the book? Is it readable when shrunk? As you can see, fonts really do have a lot of impact on a cover. Don’t be afraid to take as much time choosing that perfect font and making your title look good as you did picking out that perfect image.