Ways to Make Your Fantasy Book Cover Pop

by | Jul 25, 2017

Last Updated:
Jul 23, 2017

How much time did you put into crafting your book cover?

Most authors will spend hours searching for a cover to buy or working with a designer, a very few will spend days. Some might only consider the cover as one last step needed before they can upload the book for sale. Short or long, these are all just a fraction of the time it took to create the book.

Your book cover is the single most important marketing tool.

Think about it. You will use this cover in promo images and posts, your website, and, of course, on retailers. Thousands upon thousands of readers will look at your cover and based on what they see, often at a thumbnail size, will make a snap judgement to look further or skip your book.

Hate it or love it, this is the truth.

So I say embrace it! And learn to use it. Book covers are an author’s first foray into marketing beyond writing update posts. They are the big extravaganza leading up to launch. The cover reveal comes first after all.

So it is time to get your cover correct! Whether you create it yourself, or purchase a cover, knowing what to look for and judging if it is right for your book because it will attract the right reader, one who will love what you’ve written, is important. And it can save you a lot of time and money!

There are five major elements to a book cover.

We are going to start off with perhaps not the first one you think of: the font. Because I’m a font addict (they say the first step is acknowledging it!).

Once I discovered how easy it was to load fonts onto my Mac and then found repositories of FREE fonts like Font Squirrel and 1,000 Free Fonts… well, I have a difficult time not downloading twenty at a shot when I’m just looking for one.

If you aren’t into graphic arts, or aren’t a crazed font addict who knows the difference between serif and non serif fonts, you might really be wondering what this post is about, how it affects your cover, and why you should care? You will soon come to understand, if not suddenly find a love, or at least a working relationship, of fonts too.


One of the most important purposes of the font you use for your title, author name, and any additional text is legibility. Some fonts are absolutely horrible. Others are fine, if used in small doses like the first letter of a word. And some are designed to flow nicely.

fantasy book covers

Nothing more needs to be said to make me want to read this book.

The important thing is, a reader should be able to read your book title without wondering if the “i” is an “l” or “t.” So if you absolutely love that curling, strange font, fine. Use it. For the first letter of each word. Or the first and last letter. Fill in the rest of the title with something more legible and straight forward.

Another big key is the book title should be fancier than your author name and your name can have more oomph than any tag line. Tag lines are usually only legible at a medium to large scale image (400 pixels wide and larger). So a straight line (non-serif) font works best. Your name should be like the title, legible at a small scale, but it shouldn’t take the showcase from the title… unless you are simply so well known your name will sell the book (aka Neil Gaiman).

Your name is your brand and how a reader who loves your book will find you, and recognize you, in the future. So first book or fiftieth, make sure your name is visible and legible. And a large part of that is choosing a font that doesn’t look like a blind elf wrote it in poor dwarvish.

Size and Scale

If legibility weren’t bad enough, the book title and your author name should be comprehensible when the book is shown at a thumbnail size, typically 150 pixels wide. That is seriously small. Any tag line you have will be invisible. Instead, a reader will get an impression of the cover image, your name, and the title. Something in those three things should be enough to capture a reader’s interest to click and look more.

A fuzzy, small title won’t cut it. Curiosity about what the heck a book is actually called will not make a reader click on your book, not when there are thousands to choose from! So check the contrast between your image and title, see what can be done to offset one or the other (light bursts or glow to the title are the most common ways to emphasize words against an image), and also make sure the title, and your name, are taking up the full space. The title should fill the space allocated for it from right to left and have a good height, extending to approximately 1/6 of the cover.

fantasy book covers

Adjust, or have the font adjusted, so that the vertical height is sufficient to fill the space as well as the horizontal. This is part of how it is legible even when viewed at a small scale like the thumbnail. The other important part is the contrast between the text and cover.

Genre Clues

This is why I’m a font addict. Did you realize the font you choose provides subconscious clues to your book’s genre. Oh it does. Try selling a fantasy book with a cover title written in “Cowgirl Rope.” There are certain fonts we’ve simply come to match with certain genres. Horror, Romance, Scifi, and Fantasy all have expectations of what works and what doesn’t. Using the correct font not only provides information like the title, but also the genre. Simply by the font selected! There is psychology to fonts! Aren’t you excited?

fantasy book cover

Check out CreativIndie for even more fonts for different genres.

And if you mix and match a font that implies one genre with a cover that says another… well it could work if your book is a mishmash and you want readers to know it is “space opera fantasy” or it could lead to confusion that keeps a reader scrolling.

And font choice is just part of the subconscious clues being fed a reader in your title cover. Color has a part too. Horror is the best genre to use as an example. Notice how many covers are dark with red, slashing titles? Or red with black titles?

Fantasy tends toward violet and blues, green being a close second, either in images or titles. Gold titles frequent the genre too. Bright yellows and white often signal coming of age or hopeful adventure. Dark covers and colors indicate dystopian or dark fantasy. Misty effects frequent the genre too. And, of course, there is the nebula effect of magic woven into the cover or title as well. Pick your colors to highlight subtle clues about your story and not just because it makes the text stand out. Garish says nothing about your story… well, hopefully it isn’t what you are trying to say about your story!

fantasy book cover

There are 3 fonts in Spark of Defiance, plus a glow, and a gilt title to indicate hopeful fantasy!

Think about what you want that color, and font, to say about your work, your genre, and your story.

Because even if you don’t think about it, the reader will be using the information to judge your book. So it is better to be sure you know what you are subconsciously telling them!

Do you want to check out an awesome post on what happens when you use all the fantasy cliches in one epic book cover? Head over to the Thoughts on Fantasy Blog and prepared to be amazed (and highly amused!) for a few more cover ideas… or maybe things to avoid. lol.

Do you have a favorite font or book cover that you want to share? Let me know in the comments below!


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Written by: Autumn

Autumn is a best selling indie author, conservationist, & world traveler with plans for many more adventures both real and fantastical! She is currently settled in the wilds of Maine with her small dragonish dog and husband, searching for a portal to another world.

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