Agora Book Self-Publishing Explains How Fiction and Non-Fiction Cover Design Differ



Many self-published authors do not know that fiction and nonfiction cover designs often differ.  They simply use whatever template they fancy and ‘Voila!’ The book is out.  Worse still, is such authors pick what they like for the cover, not what is the tested design that attracts the reader. This often results in books that confuse the readers.  Yet, one of the worst things self-published authors can do is let a reader buy what looks like a novel—from its design—only to find out it’s a non-fiction book. To help avoid turning the industry normsupside down Agora Publishing has come forward to explain the main differences between the cover design for non-fiction books and fiction books.

According to “The Book Designer”, a blog on book cover design by Joel Frielander, fiction book covers allow for more artistic freedom than non-fiction books. They are meant to trigger intrigue. They are meant to create the promise of a very nice read while not letting the story out. Non-fiction books, on their part, have a more straight forward design. They often reveal the story in a nutshell right from the start. That is why—unlike fiction books that allow for 1-4 word titles—nonfiction books are allowed more words on the titles and even have subtitles to help further unravel what the book is about.

The colour of the cover of the book is often used in both types of books to indicate the genre of the book. The colour of nonfiction books tend to be simple, with very few decorative elements. In cases where a picture or art is used, it is used to help the reader further visualize what the book is about. For example, a book about gardening will have picture of a garden, garden vegetation or garden tools. A book about baking will obviously have pictures of pastries or related items on them.  On the flip side, the color of fiction books is meant to generate curiosity. The central theme is often hidden and intriguing or meant to create an illusion. For example, romance fiction cover tends to use colors with many glowing effects, while urban fantasy book tend to employ a lot swirls on the cover.

The other difference between fiction and non-fiction books is the use of fonts. Nonfiction books tend to employ blocky fonts like Sans Seris family fonts.  This is because they are minimalist and flat.  Only biographies tend to break this rule by using handwritten fonts for the title, and blocky fonts for the subtitles and author name.  However, the basic rule is the same i.e. the use of blocky fonts.  Fiction covers allow designers to use a large variety of fonts in conjunction with other decorative elements.  Of course there are differences in terms of fonts for horror books and fonts for romances book but the main fact is the freedom to experiment with various fonts.  That is why most fiction books have texture effects like fire, gold or ice to give a special feeling to the reader and set the tone of the book.

Those are the main differences between fiction and non-fiction books.  As for similarities, they are quite a number. For example,both non-fiction and fiction books covers tend to use the main character in the book as part of the cover, but only if the character is famous—like in the case of Harry Porter or in non-fiction books by former US presidents.  However, this is fodder for another article.


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