Typography: The Key to an Effective Book Cover

Blackhawk cover

Blackhawk, a story about a reclusive guitar legend, was written by Hayden Scott and published by Graham Publishing Group.

What is the most important element in creating an appealing, eye-catching book cover?

As it turns out, it is the one element most often overlooked. No, not the graphics or the color scheme. No, not the landscape or the theme.

The answer is: TYPOGRAPHY.

While I can hear the groans and the dismissive signs, I cannot stress the importance of the type chosen to represent the title, any subtitle, and the author’s name. Throwing a dart at the endless list of fonts does not work.  The font and style of typography you choose for your cover is crucial. It must support the overall design of the book. It must be a launching point for the message. And, in a lot of ways, it must do so while going completely unnoticed.

The TYPOGRAPHY of the interior is equally as important. It should never wage war with the book layout and be easy to read.  When you crack open a book, the typography should never be a distraction; it should enhance the readability of the book. On the book cover, the typography should add character and appeal while staying out of the way.

At Graham Publishing Group, we have an unbreakable rule: keep the typography, the font, and the layout simple and easy to read. Make it eye-catching. Eye-catching does not mean fancy, decorative, or distorted.

Most important: make the wording on the cover legible and easy to read, even from a distance.

With many inexperienced cover designers, there is an irresistible urge to use multiple fonts.  Do not let your cover designer fall for this. At Graham Publishing Group, we generally use a maximum of two fonts. Simplicity always wins out over gaudy. You have the title (sometimes a sub-title or tagline) and you have the author’s name. Gumming it up with multiple fonts is not necessary. From a writer’s perspective, it’s like using a 25-cent word when a dime word is more effective.

Always remember, the title is the most important of these two.  The author’s name – unless it’s Stephen King – takes second fiddle.

In summary, what do we have? Very simple. The typography of your cover can never be an afterthought. I would rather have the design of the book flowing around the typography than the other way around. Give the typography it’s just do, and it will serve your book cover well both in print and electronically.

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