I’ve been doing a lot of cover research lately. (Stop laughing. It isn’t that I stopped or anything, just that I’m pretty intensively doing it currently.)
There are SO MANY AUTHORS out there who I just want to shake. These are books that look interesting, that are possibly close to what I write.
I can’t tell you the title of some of these books.
Because the author chose such a shitty font that I can’t read the title at thumbnail.
I talk with a lot of authors about covers, about publishing, and so on. (If you’re local, know that I work for food. Take me out to a good lunch or dinner and we can do lots of work together some afternoon.)
In the Business for Breakfast series, I try to hand out some of the advice I’d give to folks in easy, digestible chunks. (There’s a reason why the tagline for the series is, “Bite-sized business advice.”)
I wrote a whole book on covers. (https://www.knottedroadpress.com/book/covers-for-the-professional-publisher/) I just went and re-read it. It contains some good advice about fonts. But now that I’m looking at it, I’m wondering if I should rewrite it, change the order the information comes in.
Because honestly, while picking the right font is important, it’s probably more important that the name of the book be LEGIBLE.
If you’re doing your own cover, please for the love of all that’s holy as well as unholy, shrink the cover down on your computer screen to make sure that you can at least read the title in thumbnail.
If you cannot, if you have to squint or something, CHANGE THE DAMNED FONT.
The only person you’re hurting is yourself. Readers won’t pick up the book if they can’t read the title. Period.
I know you love this font. You’ve loved it since your teen years. You took it to prom, broke up for a while in college when it wasn’t cool enough, but have gotten together in the last few years and going steady ever since. You’ve always wanted to use this font on a cover, but just had to wait until the right time and the right place.
If you still can’t read the title of the book at thumbnail, break up with the font again. Explain that it’s you, not them.
Seriously people! You may laugh but this is a manifestation of what we call the author problem. Those writers who are insistent on finding artwork that illustrates a scene from the book instead of focusing on conveying genre and tone.
Should the author name be legible? Honestly, that depends on genre.
And if you didn’t know that, shame on you. Go and do some research in your chosen field of publishing. Know what the conventions are for your genre at the very least, then learn some in the other genres, because at some point, someone may decide that hey – that worked well over there, let’s bring it over here!
If you don’t believe me, go look at big fantasy books from five years ago. Compare the covers to what you see today.
The covers are cleaner today. Fewer “notes” – such as book tag, author tag, etc.
Where did that come from? My best guess is YA, which has always had cleaner covers.
Author names are smaller on YA covers as well. Sometimes not legible, though that tends to be literary YA and not necessarily fantasy. However, that is a trend to be on the lookout for, if you’re doing fantasy. SF will take longer to change, if it ends up changing at all.
If you write thrillers, I’d start looking at post-apocalypse YA covers to discover trends. Where does the HUGE post-apoc audience go when it finishes its YA books? We’ve heard rumors that it’s going to thriller, seen a little evidence of that as well, though haven’t seen any research about it.
Anyway. Here’s a link to an infographic about fonts by genre. (https://diybookcovers.com/BestFontsByGenre.pdf) I don’t necessarily agree with all their choice. However, it’s a good starting point for when you begin to educate yourself about fonts.
So please, please, PLEASE. Stop shooting yourself in the foot and then wondering why no one buys your book. Your cover art may be gorgeous, but your font is ALL WRONG.
I’ll get off my soap box now. Excuse the mess.