Fonts, Past and Present

I almost called this Little Lord Font LeRoy. Aren’t you glad I resisted? Fonts are a huge part of branding your novels, but there’s so much out there to look through and choose from. What’s important here is your genre and sub-genre. You certainly don’t want a silly-looking typeface when you are selling a romantic suspense.012019 huh

Now hold on to your lecturing modes, I know typeface and font are two different things. As the linked article points out, a font is what you use, a typeface is what you see. For ease of communications, since we are talking about what you will see on your book covers, I will use font only. It’s up to you to make the decision on the size and stuff.

I’m going to skip past eons of development that took humans from cave drawings to pictograms to whatever came next and jump into calligraphy. From China to the realms of Islam, from monks to the modern wedding invitation, calligraphy provides a very personal note and a huge dollop of class. I am honored to know skilled people who keep the skill alive and to have convinced one of them to write my pen name out in an amazing style. My next Regency romances will use this for my name.

screenshot_2019-01-19 roxannahaleysig - roxannahaleysig pdf

Movable type came along and made life easier for book printers but less fun for calligraphers. They did not disappear but their skills became rare and sought-after. By the way, Bi Sheng created movable type for Chinese printers before Johannes Gutenberg debuted his press, by several hundred years! Spinning wheels, noodles, the compass, gun powder — they had us beat in so many ways.

Anyway, on to Romance Novels. Books started out with pretty plain covers. Then they started making the covers pretty with gold and colors. Eventually, dust jackets were invented and used widely. Some books lose value if the dust jacket isn’t intact. Romance novels caught on as paperbacks and so the early covers were rather pretty. But very much reflected the styles of the times.

012019 dust jackets

Suddenly, in the 1970s, Kathleen Woodiwiss and Rosemary Rogers came out with historical romances which caught fire and produced a whole new generation of readers. These readers wanted sex, lots of sex, and occasionally some sex. Hence the nickname Bodice Rippers. And the covers reflected that along with some neat fonts that looked very romantic, although not period based on the story.

These covers morphed with the times and the waves of interest from readers. Regency is dead, Paranormal is dead, Westerns are dead, Contemporary is dead, Romantic Suspense is dead. News Flash: they may have taken a short break, but all of these genres continue to this day. Don’t think you have to get that story out now or the audience will disappear. Stick to writing what you love.

I wish I could afford to have an entire font alphabet done that I will use on my covers, but in the meantime, I pick those that are appealing to me. My publisher, with whom I sleep, offers me the best ones he can find in the commons and usually I go with my first impression.

I hope this helps you decide which direction to go with your covers. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday.

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