The most critical elements in book cover design are fonts and colours
It is true that you can’t judge a book by its cover. But equally valid is that you can’t judge a book if you can’t read the title.
If you are self-publishing and your book is struggling to gain traction and sales, one reason could be the fonts you are using in your book cover design.
For a lot of self-published authors, the cost of hiring a professional designer to design a cover might be prohibitive. A custom cover can cost anywhere from $200 to $600.
There is also the choice to buy a pre-made professional cover. The price is generally between $45 to $65.
But if book designers are beyond your budget, and you create your book cover for free, you can still follow the basics for good eye catching designs.
Choose your font colours carefully. But choose white.
Of all the book cover design elements that can go into great cover design, the colour of the title is by far the most important. Your book title must be easy to read.
It is especially true today, because the first time a potential book buyer sees your book cover, it will almost always be in thumbnail size.
Depending on whether you are reading this article on a desktop or mobile, the cover images below will differ in size from small to very small to fit your screen. The key to this challenge for authors is to ensure that your book title can be read easily even when it is reduced to the smallest of thumbnails.
I took the screengrab below of the first group of bestsellers on Amazon that popped onto my screen.
Do you notice the one commonality they all have? It’s obvious. All of the book titles are white.
If you do a quick scan of top selling books on Amazon, it is rare to find a cover that does not use white titles.
I checked the romance genre as well.
Again, predominantly white titles.
There is no reason to go wild with a colour palette. If you want a cover that stands out, you can’t go wrong with white.
That’s not to say that you can’t use other colours. But if you can’t afford a book designer, your book stands a better chance of being noticed if you use a white title over your cover image.
While you might have spent hours finding a stock image for your ebook cover art, how much time and thought did you give to the readability of your title and author name?
Okay, so white is a safe choice. But in fact, the key to selecting cover ideas for your book title is contrast.
In the samples above, you can see that red on black, black on red and dark brown on beige all create clear contrast.
But be careful if you become adventurous. You might have a beautiful cover image, but your choice of font colour can lose your title.
With this last group of sample covers, you can see why they might not grab attention on Amazon or social media. There is no contrast between the titles and the cover images. It makes it almost impossible to read the titles.
The best advice is to stick with white, and especially so if your book has a long title.
Even if you have hired a designer, make sure you discuss how well your title will read in small thumbnail images like the ones above.
Avoid black titles
If there is one colour to avoid, it is black.
Unless you are using black on a stark white background and in high resolution, black can blend and look fuzzy on any colour background or image.
Any dark colour for a book title will be difficult to read in a small image format no matter what cover font you use.
Your book cover design is your first priority in book marketing, so make it work for you. When you create a cover, never allow your title to blend into the background.
Fonts tell a story
Have you noticed that most genres generally use sans serif fonts, but that there are some that regularly use serif or fancy fonts?
Can you guess the genre of the book covers above? Why are they all using a serif font?
For the romance, women’s fiction and chick-lit genres, serif fonts are very, very common. It is almost as if the font defines the genre.
If you have cover ideas that don’t follow the expectation of readers or a particular genre, it can cause problems of instant recognition. You want to be inventive, but don’t go too far from what readers expect.
For the science fiction genre, the font is usually simple sans serif.
But the title colour plays a part as well. Gold titles are very common in sci-fi, as are shadowed or in-relief titles.
Another feature of science fiction books is that titles tend to be very short. Often only one or two words, which makes it easy to use large font sizes and dramatically increase readability.
Selecting fonts for book titles needs careful consideration.
In the examples below, you can see that self-help books almost always use a clear sans serif typeface.
It is because the target audience for this type of book has expectations of how a personal development or self-help book should look.
While you have little control over body text fonts with ebooks, your cover fonts can really tell a story.
Quality design is always about clarity. These few top-selling books on Amazon have that quality.
One last design feature for fonts for covers is that you should be very careful to avoid mixing fonts.
If you are not experienced in typography and design, stay well away from using different font styles on your cover. Stick with either serif or sans serif.
Be very, very careful when using free book cover templates
I could have easily added another one hundred covers to the image above. But this small selection above took me less than two minutes to find and collect by using Google reverse image lookup.
It is also worth noticing that only one of the books above bothered to modify the default image. How lazy can you get?
Free book cover makers are easy and quick to use, but you really need to check before you use a popular template.
You are not trying to win a design contest, but you do want your cover to be as unique as possible. Do a check to see how often it has been used by other authors before you decide.
Often, it is much better to find a stock image, even if it costs a dollar or two, and then add your title and author name.
The black and white about book title fonts and colours
Great cover fonts are clear sans serif, and great colour choices are usually, well, white, white and white. Use black at your peril.
You don’t need to spend a fortune on professional book cover design services to get it right.
The best way to get great cover ideas is to search for the bestselling titles in your genre and copy and steal the font and colour styles.
If you have a long book title, consider reducing it to less than four words and using a sub-title. Long titles are extremely difficult to read on a cover reduced to thumbnail proportions no matter what font or colour you use.
There are three key elements that can help sell your book.
Your book cover design, your book description and your selection of categories and search keywords.
Get these three things right, and you will definitely be improving your chances of success.
Related reading: How To Pick A Title To Help Your Book Discovery Online