Let me start by telling you I’m not the person to learn about fonts. I simply am not. I don’t “see” the difference between fonts, or what they resemble at first sight. If I’m very lucky, I will get a “feeling” as in “this feels science fictiony” or perhaps “this feels romantic” or “that’s funny.” BUT… I don’t SEE or remember things the way other people do.
HOWEVER, I can give you rules. I can give you rules till I’m blue in the face.
The first rule of fonts for covers is: Don’t use interior fonts on the outside: that means Times New Roman, or Ariel, or all the other fonts Amazon recommends for the kindle? Don’t use those. Because they look weird since we think of them as interior fonts.
The second rule of fonts for covers is: No Comic Sans unless you’re actually and for real doing a biography of Bugs Bunny or When Bugs Met Daffy or something. The children fonts of Comic Sans, you might still be a little iffy about, but you should absolutely avoid Comic Sans unless you’re writing What’s Up Doc.
The third rule of fonts for covers is: Don’t just grab a font off the net without checking rights. There are free fonts, but make sure you read the EULA because some of these idiots have started putting in “not for ebooks.” So even if it says it’s valid for commercial use, they might have a burr up their… typography.
Yes, fonts are copyrighted. Yes, it is extremely unlikely you’ll get sued, but you might. So, stay on the shady side of the law, okay.
The fourth rule of fonts for covers is: It must be legible.
There are hellofcool fonts out there, particularly for science fiction and fantasy. BUT if you put it on, back up, and have no clue what it even says, take it off and get something less cool.
This particularly applies to Regency Romances and the like, because a too elaborate font is nearly illegible from a distance.
I’ve settled for “vaguely suggestive of the genre” fonts. So, no “southern wedding” font on romances (Look, so far only Jane Austen fanfic, but I’ll let you know) and no old-computer-display green lines font in science fiction. Because I assume most people want to read the title. (I could be wrong.)
The fifth rule of fonts for covers is: don’t stretch them or widen them too much. The font is designed that way for a reason. (Yes, I used to do it. I’ve made every possible mistake in this as well as in writing. TWICE.
So, that’s my wisdom on fonts.
But how do I get fonts, Sarah?
There are several sites where you can search for the font you want like “Science fiction fonts” or “Fantasy fonts” or “Romance fonts.”
Apparently if you want to look trad published, you should keep an eye out on what fonts they’re using these days.
Is there a value to that? I don’t know. It used to be you wanted to look like trad pub. These days you… it doesn’t matter as much.
You might want to do a search for “Cool fonts for 2022” which will tell you (sometimes) what the big guys are using. Usually though that font family will cost you something like $300 and honestly, the trads chase the “trendy” so much that they often end up just changing it at the end of the year.
Unless it’s Baen. Baen uses mostly free fonts, like sensible human beings. But you might have to know someone in the office and bribe with cookies for the font name. (Makes note in calendar.)
However, you can take a screen shot of the font and run it by WhatTheFont or font squirrel or something with it set to find only free fonts, and sometimes you get something that has similar characteristics.
Other than that?
I mostly tend to end up at dafont, where I have my preferences already set.
But there are other free font sites, for instance 1001 free fonts.
There are others, but today my brain is full of cheese, because I just finished a novel at 11:30 last night. However, while doing the search for names, because I didn’t even remember those two, I stumbled on this: https://fontbundles.net/free-fonts
I also fairly regularly get emails from pixelo offering fonts at reasonable prices. And at least one of my friends gets them from another service.
Be aware that even for the fairly “font blind” like me, fonts are a rabbit hole, and if you go down the rabbit hole, it will eat a week or so of your life. I recommend saving it for the idle moments, or Sundays or something.
I actually want to know more about type, partly because I’m fairly “font blind” (Though getting better. I suspect it’s a matter of using it, okay?) but I know that’s an entire four year degree or more. All the same, I am going to see if there are classes I can audit in my local college, particularly because in the “new style” covers coming up, the typography IS the thing.
Okay. Now I write another blog post and go clean the extremely gross (trust me) house. Only thing I must do today other than the blogs is to put the reissue of Darkship Thieves on pre-order.
But I’ll at least start cleaning first. You have no idea how gross this house is. I’ve been head down for two weeks. It’s …. horrendous.
So, I go. Zoom.
Oh, yeah: THIS POST IS THE FOURTH IN A SERIES ABOUT COVERS. FOR THE OTHER ONES GO BACK AND LOOK ON WEDNESDAYS.