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Design a Sci-Fi book cover that’s out of this world

Posted on
Sat May 24 2020
Team Coverjig

How to design a Sci-Fi cover that’s out of this world

I know you know this, but book covers are important. Despite the adage, readers really will judge your book by its cover. That’s why your cover not only has to look professional, but also ought to suit the genre of your book. If you make your Sci-Fi eBook cover look like the next 50 Shades, don’t be surprised if you see some confused/disappointed reviews. (Unless it features sexy robots, in which case sign me up.)

Online design consultation

The first step in making your science fiction book cover with Coverjig is to answer a few easy questions about your book, so that our artificially intelligent cover creator can guide you towards stylistic choices that suit the genre and your target audience. (Somewhere on this page there’s a jazzy button that’ll take you there.)

gif showing sci fi cover creation in Coverjig

Background image

Use the background image to tease your readers with some clues about the story, but don’t give too much away unless you’re targeting a very young audience. A focal item or location from your story can be effective.

If you’re going to feature one of your main characters, don’t show their face in too much detail so that the readers can fill in the blanks with their imagination. This also makes it easier for you to find a match for your character descriptions. (Think extreme close-up of part of the face, or a distant silhouette and generally avoid anything in between, which is overdone and can look amateurish.) Unless you’re targeting a very young audience, the key here is to avoid patronising your readers by being too obvious.

Typography / fonts

Typography can be its own form of storytelling. We all build conscious and sub-conscious associations with fonts that help us to make quick judgements about books, products and signs purely based on font choice. Fonts can add another layer of meaning to the title by playing on these associations, so choose a typeface that says something about the genre, location or narrative of your story. (We’ll recommend some to you, based on your online design consultation.)

Typical ‘sci-fi’ fonts are sans-serif, geometric and uniform, giving the impression of industrial reproduction by machine – check out any text in a sci-fi movie and the chances are it’ll be Eurostile, Orbitron or Futura.

These can be great choices, particularly if your title and image are relatively subtle. However, if you already have an overtly sci-fi title and image, selecting a typically ‘sci-fi’ font on top of those can be akin to calling your novel ‘Spacey Space Robots from Outer Space’. (To be fair, I’d read that…)

The alternative is to add a layer of depth by alluding to something else about your story. For example, if your Sci-Fi novel is really a Western set in space and the title doesn’t already indicate that, you could take this opportunity to hint at it by combining elements. (E.g. a hand-carved saloon font over a spacey background, or a futuristic geometric font over a six-shooter.)

[insert mock-ups – all sci-fi elements vs altered meaning]

Legibility

No duh, but it’s important for readers to be able to read the title and author name when looking at a cover. Size, contrast and placement are key factors here.

First, consider whether the text is big enough that it’ll be readable when viewed as a tiny thumbnail on Amazon etc.

Second, is there enough contrast between the colour of your text and the background image?

Third, if the text is placed on top of a very detailed area of the image, it will be more difficult to read. You could add a semi-transparent panel to screen the text, but it’s usually better to just move the text to a less detailed area of the image.

Have fun!

I hope this has given you some things to think about. Above all, I’d encourage you to get stuck in and have a go. You’re welcome to use our online cover designer to try out as many ideas as you like with absolutely no strings attached. Love you, bye!

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