How to make your book cover text stand out on the thumbnail version?

Today I got an email asking a common indie author question: how to I make the thumbnail book cover ‘pop’ but still make the cover look good at full size? Here’s the email:

We have published a book at Amazon’s Kindle eBooks and like the cover image in all respects except one: the main title (Awakening’s Treasure) is not very visible in the first thumbnail one sees when browsing the Kindle catalog page (perhaps author’s name also).

The consideration is how to make it more visible in a way that also works in the larger blowups (when clicking the initial image, and the Look Inside image). This might mean a different color, larger font, different font, etc.

Self-publishing gurus and indie experts keep saying that the thumbnail text needs to be legible, which means the cover has to be really big. First of all, I’m not sure I agree. The thumbnail’s job is to catch the eye and get an emotional response. So it can be quirky, interesting, beautiful, tragic – as long as viewers have some reaction to it. The is not really about the text – it’s about the images and colors; the book cover design (unless your main selling feature is your brilliantly creative title, but that’s rarely the case). They can read your book’s title and info right under the thumbnail anyway, so why does it need to be big enough to read?

If there’s a compromise to be made, I would always shoot for a good looking full size, rather than a good looking thumbnail. The email came from John Enzo, about his book “awakening’s treasure”. Here’s the thumbnail.

He’s right, the text is hard to read – but that’s not really the problem. I could make the text huge and clear, but the title doesn’t generate any interest. What’s really important in this cover is the maze, and the rose, which is actually pretty well done (here’s the full cover).

In the full cover, we can see that this is actually a very polished and clean design. I like it. I might fix up the font/text a little, but the main thing about the cover has to be the images; the text just needs to be built INTO the picture in a subtle or complimentary manner. So, while I would pull the text down from the top a bit, and make it wider and bolder, what I’d really want to do is zoom in on that rose and maze, maybe make it take up most of or all of the cover (then I could put bands of orange yellow across for the text).

I would probably also change the title font to something a little more dreamy/romantic… to go along with the feeling I get from the images.

If the cover looks great and has a good ‘feel’, you don’t need to be able to read the text on the thumbnail, so don’t stress it too much (the majority of professionally published books actually have very small text, only thrillers have huge cover text).

Book Cover Makeover

I went ahead and redid the text. I tried some script fonts but this is what we ended up liking the best.

The author writes:

When I compare your work with the original image, such a difference…..the original is so subdued but your work revitalizes it. One of our small Blue Mesa team wanted me to convey that it looks exquisite.

What a difference a few changes can make. 🙂