Fiction Book Cover Design: The Definitive Guide

MiblArt blog post


If you are reading this sentence, you probably have amazing writing, but no cover for your future book. Do you often scratch your head when coming up with book cover design ideas? 

Then you’re in the right place. 

In this guide, you’ll dive deeper into book cover design for fantasy, romance, thriller, and crime genres. We will share with you insights about typography, color palette, imagery, and their examples. 

Ready to start?

Fiction book cover design tips

Book cover design for fiction books – this is where you can implement your brightest ideas:

  • Experiment with images and fonts 
  • Test various imagery and typography layouts 
  • Convey the concept of your writing with pictures, illustrations, and signs 
  • Represent the mood of your genre 

Before getting into the details for each genre, we will start from the general characteristics of fiction book cover design.

Fiction book cover typography

There are no strict rules in typography for fiction. The major principle is to make it suitable for the overall design of your book cover. Here are some general tips you should know :

  • Try not to use more than two different typefaces

If you’re a novice in book cover design, it’s better to use one of the Sans Serif family fonts. You can also try to combine different fonts but ensure that your book cover will not look cluttered. Use this tool to check out if the fonts combine well together.


  • Avoid distracting your reader from the title


Choose a smaller size for the subtitle. It may be placed above or beneath the book’s name. Placing it between the lines is also an advantageous option, especially when it serves as a supplementary element of design. 


  • Choose the size of the font for the author’s name


The typography for the author’s name should not prevail the title in size unless you’re a famous author.


  • Align the text against the same margin 


Place the title, subtitle, and author’s name in the left, right, or central part of the page. Yet, the central layout is the most optimal solution. 


  • Select the winning color scheme


Don’t get confused about the colors, which is better to use. Contrasting hues are profitable in fiction. You can use three different colors to make the title, subtitle, and author’s names look diverse. You may use tints and shades from the same palette if you believe it makes your book cover design better. 


  • Experiment to trick your reader 


Try to use an unexpected color palette for your book cover design. For example, yellow is associated with energy and optimism. However, using it for the title in a thriller or crime may bring about other feelings and emotions. It throws you off the scent. 

Fiction book cover imagery

The design of the foreground and background for the fiction book cover may become a devastating process. 

Don’t know what is better to choose and how to combine images and graphics? 

Check out these ideas and tips on book cover design for different genres and get to know when to use them.


  • Background scene with a foreground character


Both of them should be simple and appeal to the target audience. This kind of book covers should give readers a hint at the plot. 


Background scene with a foreground character in book cover design

  • Character in the top and a background scene in the bottom

Such a combination gives readers a steer on how characters and environments are connected. 


Character in the top and a background scene in the bottom in book cover design


  • Scene with a small character 


The design of the book cover with a scene and a small character focuses on the significance of the moment rather than a character. 

It reflects a symbolic representation of described events and their powerful influence on the heroes. 


Scene with a small character in book cover design


  • Focus on the character’s face 


Big face in the book cover is a trend popular during the years. 

A face-focal idea perfectly fits different genres because the details of one’s face may show additional emotions and enhance readers’ interest. 

For example, the direct look is captivating, half of the face boosts mystery, and a person-centric design focuses on the character. 


Focus on the character face in book cover design


  • Minimalism


Minimalism is always a great choice despite the genre. It helps when you have no ideas or it’s hard to choose the concept. Minimalist book cover design features one graphic element, plain color, and ascetic typography. 


Minimalism in book cover design


  • Floral Motif

The floral motif is a leading trend in a book cover design in 2019. The multicolored palette of flowers makes the book cover vivid and sophisticated. And I can imagine your skeptical countenance if you write thrillers or crimes. Yes, this kind of design also fits these genres. Floral motifs intrigue and attract readers amazingly. 


Floral motif in book cover design

  • Focus on typography 

Typography turns the reader’s attention to the idea of the book reflected in the title. Simplicity, readability, and clarity are key factors. You can also use some background images to support the genre and enhance the mood.


Typography in book cover design


Now you know about the general characteristics of fiction book cover design. 

It’s time to dive into the secrets of covers for fantasy, romance, crime/ mystery, and thriller. 

Fantasy book cover design tips

One visually captivating cover opens a fantasy world of the book. Yet, it keeps the plot intrigued and unrevealed. 

Wander how to reach that?

Here are the tips on how to choose the fonts, images, colors, and layouts for your fantasy book cover.


Did you know that each font has its unique mood and evokes different emotions in readers? 

For example, bold fonts refer to masculinity and power while rounded fonts convey femininity, softness, and comfort. 

Typography helps you communicate with your reader, so don’t miss this chance.

Are you eager to know what fonts are the most popular in this genre? 

These fonts for fantasy book cover design are faultless:

  • Serif, 
  • Gothic, 
  • Baskerville, 
  • Apple Garamond, 
  • Trajan Pro,
  • Cinzel
  • Optimus Princeps
  • Oranienbaum

The options presented above are basic for fantasy. They look organically and reflect the mood of the genre. Though, it doesn’t mean that you cannot use other fonts. 

Font and color size

The choice of the font colors depends on the palette and hues used in the book cover design. They may be either of the same spectra or contrasting. White typography is a winning option that matches any color of the cover design. 


Cover of Terry Brooks novel The Dark Legacy of Shannara
















Titles of fantasy books are brief because they clue readers to the main points. In a nutshell, it may be up to 5-6 words. 

You can mix the upper and lower case letters or use capitalization for the entire title. Nick Kolenda in his useful guide on font psychology reveals the following insights: 

  • Mixed case letters are the most readable;
  • Letters in bold show power;
  • Slanted letters convey a sense of movement; 
  • Straight letters refer to stability. 

Mix them to get the best title for your writing. 

Colour palette

Fantasy book covers usually have vivid colors. Neutral black can be combined with bold red, green, purple and other hues.


Cover of T. Stone novel Emerald Forest  Book cover of Monsoon by V. Serrano


Thus, a pure color with the variation of its shades and tints may serve a great option. 

Consider the language of color to highlight the focal point: 

  • Purple is good to demonstrate mystery, 
  • Golden – royalty, 
  • Red – anger or danger, 
  • Green – renewal and balance.


Cover of L. Bardugo's novel King of Scars  Cover of Bursts of Fire by S. Forest Forest


Do you want to combine colors? Go ahead with our advice:

  • Try a gradient to make a book cover catching; 
  • Use a three-dimensional color to get balance blending two colors;
  • Contrast black to one of the basic bold colors (red, blue, purple, orange, yellow, green);
  • Select pure colors with different intensity.


How to come up with imagery for the fantasy book cover?

Here are some variants: 

  • Focus on the main character’s superpower 
  • Illustrate magic light or a fireball to appeal to unreal, magic effects;
  • Amplify supernatural to hint at some extraordinary events in the book. 


Cover of A.D. Kennah's Princess of Thieves  Book cover of Diamond in the Rough


Let’s look at tips useful for romance.

Romance book cover design tips


Romance is mainly about relationships between two people and their emotions. That’s why typography should send appropriate vibes. Fonts with flourishes and handwriting guarantee a romantic mood. 

 Fancy to know the most suitable fonts for romance book cover design? Check the following:

  • Bentham
  • Day Roman
  • Twilight
  • Lavenda
  • Water Brush
  • Butter Scotch
  • Vix Antique Script
  • The Dreamer
  • Amaze
  • LT Chickenhawk
  • Sexsmith
  • Wisdom Script
  • Alex Brush
  • Bromello

Keep in mind the time described in the novel. You can apply script-based and edgy fonts for modern and classical times, respectively. 

Top 6 Script Fonts:

Script fonts for romance book cover design

Top 6 Edgy Fonts:

Script fonts for romance book cover

Font color

You can select the font color depending on the emotions your book evokes. Gentleness and sensitivity, compassion and sorrow require a specific palette. 

Have you heard about colors women love most? Depending on the content of your writing, you may use a feminine color palette. Of course, it doesn’t mean that these hues fit only women. They are appropriate for men, too. But, these colors have a specific meaning for females. 

Here are the examples:

Women associate red with passion, and pink in their minds commonly stands for gentleness and sweetness. 

They also favor turquoise and purple because these hues are sophisticated and energetic. 

You can also use the following tints that convey light and peaceful meaning and are considered more feminine.


Scheme of tints of six pure colours


Font size

Titles of romance books vary in length. In general, they are about 2-5 words although some may consist of more words or comprise only one. 

Upper case is common for romance book covers, but its combination with a lower case is suitable. 

Selecting among these options, you may be sure that typography will stick to the principles of this genre. 

Following font psychology tips, it’s also a good practice to use light and rounded fonts. They endue your title with beauty, comfort, softness, and femininity. These feelings are associated with romance.

Color palette

When it comes to romance, gold, pink, and lilac refer to the traditional combination. Light palettes are common for writings about gentle feelings and sensual relationships. 


Book cover of the novel Caught by C. J. Michaels  Book cover of Laying Down Roots by B. L. Cunningham


Deep, bright colors are preferably used in erotic romance novels. 


Cover of R. Bates novel Only Yours  Cover of Rescued by the Dragorian by E. Vance


Imagery of the romance book cover should directly address the matter of the described relationships. There may be different ways to demonstrate it:

  • Naked bodies are the traditional option. There may be a solo partially naked male or female character in the cover.


Book cover of A Cowboy's Honor by V.L. Thompson


  • Intertwined bodies remain their popularity, too.


Book cover of At the Wrong Times by L.B. Reyes


  • Illustration of people in full length or some parts of the body reflects the romantic mood.


Book cover of A. Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha


  • The background image should fit the setting in the novel. Help your audience guess the place where the plot develops. If writing tells a maritime love story, it is faulty to illustrate a castle or garden. 


Cover of The Whiskey Sky by Ann Howard Creel  Cover of Can't Let Go Gena Showalter


  • Some minimalistic covers with one object perfectly function in this genre. They intrigue and provoke without a direct appeal to naked bodies


Cover of S. Meyer's novel Eclipse


It’s time to learn steers of gloomy and obscure book covers.

Crime and mystery book cover design tips

Crime and mystery book cover should be captivating but avoiding spoilers. Hint at surprise is a perfect trick to make your crime and mystery book cover fascinating. How can you do so?


Titles perform a major function in crime and mystery book cover design. They may be either the key or supportive factors that build tension and set the mood. You can reach it, using the following fonts. 

Color palette

Dark and bold color scheme is popular for crime and mystery book covers. It suits design because it corresponds to the mystique mood of your writing. Thereby, black combined with green, red, blue, and even yellow to express certain emotions.


Cover of the Book the Silent Forest by Guy Sheppard  Book cover of The Winding Up the Serpant by P. Masters


In particular, blue refers to mental engagement; red shows aggression, angsty, and anxiety; black signifies death; green is associated with the supernatural. White and grey are used rarely but they may evoke a sense of mystery. 


Cover of H. Bingham's book The Dead House



The crime and mystery book covers use minimum of images, unlike the other covers in other genres. They have to preserve the mystery.


Cover of S. King's It  Book cover of In the Family by C. James


The manifold use of illustrations and pictures may not support this purpose. Imagery for crime and mystery book covers consists of some interesting graphical elements combined with the title. 


Book cover of Kin by by Snorri Kristjansson  Book cover for The Noble Path by P. May

You may use images with symbolic or direct meaning. Blurred and faded background adjusts some extra mystery to the book cover. The characters may be vanishing or clear up to the overall design concept. 

John le Carre's book cover  Cover of Little Boy Lost by J.D. Trafford

We can move forward and get a piece of advice if you need a thriller. 

Thriller book cover design tips

Thriller book cover design shares a lot in common with crime and mystery. 

The key purpose is to arouse curiosity and interest without revealing the outcomes of the final part of the book. 


The titles of thriller book covers are printed predominantly in capitals. The fonts are bold and clear. 

Book cover of Etrangers by C. Solak

The typography should be clean and simple without extra flourishing elements, which appeal to sensitivity. You can apply texture and gradients to letters to enhance the tension or mystery and reinforce the mood. 


Here are the popular fonts for thrillers

Fonts for a thriller book cover

Color palette

The color palette for thriller is dark and bold. Navy blue or black serves perfectly for the design of the background, prompting suspense, mystery, and authority. 

Cover of They All Fall Down by R. H. Hall

The elements in the foreground may be depicted in red to boost tension and dominance. 

Book cover for L. Unger's The red Hunter

Orange and yellow mean optimism, confidence, ambition, and creativity. Albeit, they may reflect aggression and energy in thrillers. 

Cover of T. Meitner's book Framed

You can use light blue or pale green to increase the mystery and refer to the past. 

Book cover by J. Probyn by Crimsons  Book cover of One Night in Drake Mansion by C. Whitaker


The book cover for thriller may use a perspective to reinforce the effect of the unknown. 

Book cover of The Night She Disappeared by A. Henry

The character moves onward or forwards the background setting to tell the clue moments of the plot. In such a way, a reader will be eager to know the resolution of the story. 


Now you know the general features of the successful book covers for fiction.

Here are the main takeaways: 

  • experiment and balance typography, imagery, and color scheme;
  • make them special for fantasy, romance, mystery, and thriller; 
  • try out two fonts from different categories: one font is boring, and three look busy; 
  • match the font and its color to amplify the message of your writing;
  • use images to hint at the plot.

We hope that this guide will help you to come up with various ideas. If you have any questions or need advice, we’re ready to help!