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Fonts Might Not Come First, but Don’t Discount Them Just Yet

What do you first notice about the front cover of a book?

That’s actually a trick question, since the answer greatly depends on the genre you read.

It might be the images, especially if it’s a romance or contemporary fantasy novel: something meant to appeal to women, if we’re going to be blunt.

Female readers are, for the most part, drawn to compelling images of people.

Then again, if it’s “male-oriented” such as an epic fantasy novel, it might have an action scene on it. And if it’s a mystery or a thriller, it’s much more likely to simply feature a symbol.

Some books – especially those written by very well-known figures don’t have anything at all on them. Nothing but colors. Colors and text.

As readers, we tend to take that latter aspect for granted to some degree. Text on a book cover, we think, only tells us one of four things:

  • The name of the book

  • The name of the author

  • Who recommends it, what list it’s on, or what awards it’s won

  • What it’s about.

But there’s also a more subtle side to text that can be a major selling point. Or a major detraction.

If you’re designing your own front cover, the choice is up to you.

To really delve into our topic today, I’m going to first quote from a article. “If you are self-publishing and your book is struggling to gain traction and sales,” the author writes, “one reason could be the fonts you are using in your book cover design.”

With that in mind, here’s what you need to know to avoid that fate, starting with the very basics:

The front cover font you choose is a very big deal.
As any professional graphic designer will tell you, the font you choose or create matters. A lot. There’s font type. Font layout. Font size. Font emphasis. Font placement... There are entire lessons taught on this subject for a reason.
All those factors come together to form a certain impression that should, of course, match the genre, subgenre and exact story line you’re working with (which should, of course, apply to the front cover image, symbols and/or colors you’ve chosen to showcase as well).

If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed after reading that, I’m not going to lie: Perhaps you should be. Though only if you want to truly sell your book.

Here’s the thing about designing your own book cover, complete with font or fonts…

Perhaps you should be overwhelmed. In which case, you really need to figure out how to have someone else do it for you. If you’re a cheapskate like me, I’d recommend a site such as in that regard. It offers various creative and technical services for pretty reasonable prices.

I’d say to just be careful there, since you get what you pay for. Except that, unfortunately, you can also pay top dollar and get a bad design. So just be careful altogether.

If you’re not the careful type – or if you’re the type who knows what challenges you can handle and you want to tackle this one – then by all means, design your own book cover. And more power to you!

Just keep in mind the kinds of tips listed on the aforementioned (and apparently British) For instance:

  • Choose your book cover font colours carefully. But choose white.

  • Avoid black titles.

  • Book cover fonts tell a story.

  • Be very, very careful when using free book cover templates.

Since, of course, each of those statements come with an explanation, I highly recommend you read the whole piece. In fact, I highly recommend you find another couple articles like it and read those from start to finish as well.

Once you’re done, then I repeat…

More power to you designing a book front cover, fonts and all, that draws readers right to it. You can do it: It's just going to take some serious thought.

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