Choosing Scifi Fonts Graphic

A short guide to have you rocketing to typographic success in no time

When choosing the best fonts for your sci-fi novel, you’ll want to consider how and where it will be displayed. Below are some helpful questions and recommendations before making your final choice.

Let’s get into the flow…

Focus on commercially safe fonts only

Avoiding free fonts will keep you navigating in legally safer waters. Free fonts can carry a lot of potential issues with them. They can be problematic in terms of validating (when your font book runs a safety check on a font), they often have caveats on where and how they can be used, and you can run the risk of getting sued by the font creator if you haven’t used the font correctly.

Regardless, read the licensing fine print on any font you use to ensure you understand how you are allowed to use it. For example, you may need to buy an extended license for a font when you reach a certain number of book sales. That is a typical stipulation you might come across for commercial fonts. This is quite standard for the industry.

Where can you buy commercially safe fonts?

While there are countless font shops on the web, here are three of my personal favorites:

Stay within genre expectations

First and foremost, think about the genre expectations your future readers may have. There are historical/classic font choices from decades past as well as more modern fonts to ponder.

Your book’s sub-genre also plays a significant role in the reader’s expectations. As an example, dystopian, military sci-fi, and space opera fonts look wildly different. If you’ve chosen a font simply because you like the look of it but it’s a font style that’s usually associated with a very different genre or sub-genre, you might confuse or alienate future buyers and ultimately miss out on sales.

Here are some examples:

Post-Apocalyptic Cover

The Infernal Regions by Ryan Schow

Post-apocalyptic covers typically make use of large, ultra-bold fonts that have a grungy texture style applied to them. They often have a 3D effect and may also be integrated into the background or foreground elements. In edition, the texture might mimic the look of steel or dry, cracked dirt, or a similar material. They will typically either have an orange, yellow, brown, gray, or blue/ice hue to correspond to the genre expectations of blue and/or orange color palettes.

Space Opera cover

Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente

Space opera covers don’t have as many hardfast genre tropes to consider, but one of the main ones is a font choice that has a more amusing and possibly warped style. Space opera font styles often have unusual textures applied, such as the neon effect in this example cover. But if you write space opera, avoid serious and simple fonts.

First Contact Sci-Fi cover

First Encounter by Jasper T. Edwards

Military sci-fi covers sport either a thinner, simpler font—perhaps with a small amount of unusual cutouts or shapes—or they veer toward larger, bolder fonts that are either glowing or metal in style. It often depends on how busy the background image is. In this example, the thinner, tall font gives the impression of a spaceship descending and corresponds well to the stark openness of the background image.

It’s possible the element descending down from the “O” in Encounter is a custom made edition to the font. Whatever the case, its purpose is to mimic the shape of the alien ship above it. Remember that you also have this option. You can add embellishments, optical sun glares, glints, or glows to the edges of letters. Just don’t overdo it, or such elements may lose their effectiveness.  

Also check the Amazon bestseller lists for your specific sub-genre and create a moodboard of covers you like. Flip through them and study the different elements on the cover (font styles, typography placement, color palette, etc.). This can help narrow down what you are looking for in terms of the typography on your cover.

Ensure the font is readable

Linked below is an article highlighting a collection of reasonably-priced and gorgeous sci-fi fonts that are easy on the eyes. When choosing the best fonts for your sci-fi novel, you don’t want potential buyers squinting at the tiny thumbnail of your book cover on Amazon and wondering what the heck your book is called. So when looking at a font, zoom the browser window out quite a bit (View | Zoom in top menu) and make sure you can still make out at least the title (the rest isn’t as important in small thumbnail view).

Also consider that if you run ads such as Bookbub, Facebook, or Amazon Ads, the graphics themselves are quite tiny. So there again, you’ll want to ensure your title font is readable at small sizes.

Also consider if you plan to use the same fonts within the interior pages of your book. For example, you might want to use the same title font for the title page in your front matter. And you may want to use a similar font in the same font-family for the chapter titles.

Choose complementary fonts for your author name and other typography

Typically, you’d choose a second font for your author name, and potentially your series title or any accolades on the cover, such as USA Today Bestselling Author, etc. Stick with just two to three fonts across your entire cover (including the back cover and spine). Using too many fonts can make a design look chaotic and unprofessional.

Happy hunting!

Hopefully this overview will help you navigate through the process of choosing the best fonts for your sci-fi novel. Keeping these considerations in mind will help you build a recognizable brand and increase the likelihood of more sales and happier readers. Ad astra, my friends!

 For great font ideas to inspire you and get you started, check out Fantastic Futuristic Fonts for Your Next Project.

And for more ScribeFlow articles, check out the main category page here.

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