The right font is an important ingredient for successful cover design. It can also be one of the more challenging elements to perfect.
What to look for
- The cover text should fit the genre or subject matter.
- It should look like the font belongs on the cover.
- The font should inspire interest in the book.
- It shouldn’t be a distraction.
- The text should be easy to read. Any uncommon words should be immediately clear.
- Key words should stand out in the thumbnail.
- Pixelation, stray marks, blurriness, and other issues will detract from the cover.
- Too many different fonts on the cover is a problem. Two different fonts must work well together.
We’ll look at a movie and t.v. show. Although these aren’t books, the font is equally important—more so, if you count the money invested.
Check out the font for Disney’s Frozen: movies.disney.com/frozen. It fits the content perfectly.
Another example is Nick’s The Haunted Hathaways: www.nick.com/shows/haunted-hathaways.
Getting it right
The font and cover as a whole must look right to your eye. Well, not your eye. What really matters is your specific target audience.
That’s why feedback is so important. Some people have a good eye for font style. If you can get their opinions, that will help. You can also solicit feedback from your target audience, helping you build a little buzz while also perfecting your cover.
Finding the font
You need to go on the Great Font Scavenger Hunt. But it’s worth it.
If you’re using the font on your book cover, you’ll need a font that permits commercial use. There are many fonts online that allow free commercial use, along with many more with reasonable prices. For example, check out Font Squirrel. Google free fonts to find a host of other sites. You can also find many font collections for sale.
Read the license agreement carefully to learn whether or not commercial use is permitted. While some free fonts allow commercial use, beware that some paid fonts don’t. Check the license to be sure.
Note that paid font collections often exaggerate the total number of fonts. If the same font comes in normal, bold, italics, condensed, and expanded, for example, that single font might count as 9 different fonts (since condensed bold italic is different from condensed bold, for example).
Another issue is browsing through the fonts and testing it out with your specific text. A paid collection might come with a booklet that shows just the first 7 letters of thousands of fonts, which really makes it challenging to find the right one. An advantage of browsing online is that you often see larger fonts, spaced out better, and you can search and filter to better find what you’re looking for.
Once you have the fonts of interest installed on your computer, you can open up Microsoft Word, type the text, highlight the text, then scroll through the various fonts to see how it looks using the up/down arrows on the keyboard. This is pretty convenient. (If the font window blocks the text, you can move the text over by changing its alignment to right, for example.)
Don’t ignore it
If you did a survey among avid readers who know nothing about cover design, they might tell you that font style isn’t important to them. But that’s only because they don’t realize it.
Online, before you see the book’s product page, you see the thumbnail for the cover. Usually, the thumbnail is on a page with a dozen or more other covers. Very often, a shopper is scrolling through several pages of thumbnails to find a book. In a bookstore, you see the spines of hundreds of books.
The cover that best attracts the target audience gets the most attention. The font style does have a significant impact on cover appeal, even if we don’t realize it.
A successful cover signifies the genre and attracts the specific target audience in three seconds. The right font helps to pull this off.
I started this blog to provide free help with writing, publishing, and marketing. You can find many free articles, including cover design, by clicking one of the following links:
Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers