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Cover Designs and Fonts

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Cover Designs and Fonts

One of the most important steps when self-publishing is the cover – it should grab attention, and attract the audience – your purchaser – and make them want it by its cover.  It sounds so easy but it needs to be the art you never learned in art class, a special technique and use of the correct tools to make it shine.    

So you are now finished with your book but the final question, how too attract a large audience?  The information provided here has to do with publishing your book, it doesn’t matter if it is an ebook or a printed book, in both cases the first thing you see is the cover. A cover brings what you have on the inside, to life – for instance – if you are a lover of memoir – something must stand out about the main story, pretend you are trying to write that introduction or prologue which grabs the person who has too know more before purchasing. Remember, before they go inside the cover, you have to get the book into their hands.

Online you have the opportunity to let them read the introduction, prologue, first chapter, etc.  The same is true with the book off the shelf, but one is more apt to press a button on the keyboard to read the section you provide, when that is the only book that is surrounding them – online.

covers and fonts Design & Illustration Book Publishing  Cover Designs and FontsOne thing to remember, you loved your book, still do – but don’t fall in love with a font because you like what the letter A looks like, remember you are building this book to be both attractive, and on the inside, easy to read.

You have completed the hard work, and completed your manuscript, now to the detail of getting it to press. The following five goals came from the website The Book Designer  as written by Joel Friedlander.

Announce its genre—This is very important for genre fiction, but it’s equally important for any book to be clear right away about exactly what kind of book it is. This seems to me to be the first concern of the cover designer.

Telegraph its tone—Particularly important for fiction and literary fiction, where the whole effect of the book rests on the skill of the writer. A cover can give you an idea of the writer’s voice in many subtle ways.

Explain its scope—Mostly for nonfiction. Understanding the extent of the book’s subject helps to define its target market.

Generate excitement (the “hook”)—Let’s face it, book covers are a subspecies of advertising design, and they can be powerful sales tools. But if nothing about the cover stops people, or evokes instant interest, fascination or curiosity, it can’t accomplish its aims.

Establish a market position—This is almost the sum of all the other goals listed here. Taken together, they establish the exact space we see the book occupying amongst all the other books that address the same topic or which are in the same genre.

I believe the following information about the Font inside, meaning your manuscript, and the correct font for the cover is a must know for a self-published book.  I want to tell you, I learned through the website above, some fonts are used illegally  “If you’re downloading a font from a third-party site, you need to know this. For instance, if you can download a font created by Adobe that you found at “Freddy’s Free Fonts,” you should question whether Freddy bothered to get the rights to distribute it,” said Joel.  So his warning, “be careful when searching for free fonts.”

You maybe concerned about the uploading of your book file, as I was – as I held my breath I wondered if this PDF file was going to erase, since it has been like a child for a long time, it has your heart and soul on every page.

In the article I read about setting up the manuscript for the printer, I learned about certain fonts which will not embed due to technical and legal restrictions.  Imagine, your book is all finished, in position on the page, and now you find out the font you used corrupts the entire file.

It is now time to scream.

Joel’s advice is to use the font on a few pages and try it out.  He recommended opening the file in Adobe Acrobat and check under the File/Properties on the Font Tabs.  You will find a list to read, Embedded or Embedded Subset for the file to work at the printer.

When it comes to fonts be sure of the quality, and make sure you can change the font from italic to upright.

In front of you is your book – remember the stranger who is going to be reading it – make it strong and clear, don’t try to use fancy fonts for books to be read – sure you can introduce letters, or special quotes with different fonts but please, not the entire book.

I find myself flipping through pages of books either at the library, bookstore, or where they sell second hand books, and checking the font, it’s size and spacing – not everyone has 20/20 vision.

How many of you have opened your reader and found misaligned books.  These same books are being sold at readings, bookstores (rare as they may seem) who take local writers on, and especially with ebooks.  The person reviewing the cover and sample (online) is probably thinking this is a first time writer, instead of a first time publisher.   Ebook authors, as a first time author are sometimes excellent writers, and if their art work and choice of font matched their writing it may have been purchased twice as much.  People tend to close the cover of a book which appears to be printed cheaply.  Remember that old saying, “don’t choose a book by its’ cover,” well it is an old saying, because in this market the cover and presentation is extremely important.

What makes the finished product look so immature, as if it had a life span – well it happens when the set is off and those extra spaces show up because of set width errors.  This means the amount of letters it takes to fill the space was not calculated properly.

One of the most important things to remember, less words on the cover, makes a clean look and a title to remember. What appears on the cover is the title, and if you need it a subtitle, and the name of the author.

Joel tells, “if you’re writing about a topic considered masculine and aimed at a male audience, does it help you to have an overly-embellished or feminine typeface that’s barely readable on your book cover? No, I don’t think so either. Or for a historical romance, you wouldn’t want a modern clean sans serif typeface like Helvetica for your cover. It would simply look dangerously out of place.”

Now you will receive a few tips on how to choose the most appropriate font for your book.

We are writers not artists, or are we accustomed to putting a 100,000 word manuscript in perfect order for the printer.  The first thing you should understand are the two types of fonts, display fonts and text fonts.

What makes a display font different from those text fonts?  Each has a different way of spacing, widths, to set, and what a printer says, weights.  A printer would say it is not correct to use a text font for a bookcover, although it is done, and sometimes very well.  I would have to say the perfect font should fall into the display category for the cover so you have no questions asked by the printer of your choice.  The following is a list of display fonts suggested on the website.

1. Chunk Five (free from fontsquirrel.com): This meaty and emphatic slab serif font is ideal for book titles in numerous genres. Try this font for action-oriented or political stories.

2. League Gothic (free from fontsquirrel.com): This sans serif font is very vertical, which is ideal for book titles. League Gothic would be a great choice for thrillers or business books, and it can be useful if you have a very long title, too.

3. Trajan (available from Adobe): You might recognize Trajan, and that’s because it’s been used for more movie posters than any other font. It works quite well on books, too. This classic font is appropriate for histories, novels, and historical fiction, among others.

4. Franchise (free from fontsquirrel.com): Another tall and meaty sans serif, just ideal for the right book cover treatment. Franchise would be a great pick for a historical epic, for mysteries, or for thrillers.

5. Baskerville (many versions available): Sometimes you need to have a straight roman typeface for your title, and in that case I like to use one of the variations of Baskerville, a highly readable typeface. You might find Baskerville perfect for a memoir, a business book, or a historical romance.

NOTE:  All of these are listed on the website listed, and samples of the book covers are shown.

For me, I took Joel’s advise and tried many of the fonts – at least those which were free – too get a feel for what is said both on the outside and inside the cover.

The following note is about a person who supplied all the choices and details for your typeset and cover.

Joel Friedlander is a self-published author, an award-winning book designer, and an accomplished blogger. He’s the founder of the Self-Publishing Roadmap online training course, and a frequent speaker at industry events where he talks to writers about how the new tools of publishing can help them reach and inspire their readers.

If you liked the points I shared with you, simply check out the website and follow what your heart desires. I hope some of these simple tips have given you the courage to dive into the business of self-publishing.

Cover Designs and Fonts was last modified: April 17th, 2014 by Nancy Duci Denofio

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