How Big Is Too Big?

I’d like to thank Heather Boyd for inspiring this post with her comment in my previous post showcasing the covers for the two Story Time stories TJ Thirteen and Hunter.

In her comment she suggested that I make my name stand out a little more prominantly, the goal being to ensure that it’s still readable when the image is reduced to a thumbnail. This is good advice since as heather pointed out an author’s name is that author’s brand. But it put me in mind of The Belgariad, a series I first read a very very long time ago. It’s been around for many years but it was the series that put David Eddings on the fantasy world stage.

When the books were first released he wasn’t what you might call a big name so the book covers predictably showcased the name of the book, but in subsequent reprintings his name grew and grew until it completely eclipsed the title of the book. Take a look at the images below to see what I mean.

Hence the question I pose in the title of this post. How big is too big?

Should an newbie author dive stright into the layout of the right most image or should they stay more in line with the left most one? Or is the real answer somewhere in between (which I am suspecting is in fact the case). I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

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6 thoughts on “How Big Is Too Big?”

  1. Interesting post, Goran.
    I guess in the traditional publishing world the author doesn’t have much of a say in the size of his name on the cover. That’s left to the cover design and marketing people.
    It might appear a bit egotistical of a newbie author to publish a self-designed cover with his name in huge letters. And perhaps foolish from a marketing point of view to make it too small.
    From a book-browser’s point of view, they might see a large unknown name and think, hey, I haven’t heard of this guy but his name’s big so maybe someone think he’s good. They’re probably not to know the cover was also penned by the guy who wrote the text within but it might trigger further investigation.
    So, now that everyone on Story-time is coming up with covers, I’m feeling the pressure to create something with two chicks being chased by a rogue briefcase! How big to make my name? Middle of the road is probably safe. Maybe slightly smaller for a first book. Large enough that maybe 20% of readers might question it. It needs to be seen yet not be overbearing, as does the title.

  2. I think any new or less-known author should probably keep their title larger than their name. One of the things that will attract me to a book is a great title. Author name does nothing for me unless they are well-known. In fact, a huge name (that I don’t know) will make me ignore the book altogether because I don’t feel like squinting my eyes to find the title. In my opinion, if you have a great title, make it pop out and grab people’s attention. That will make them investigate further. Of course, a good book cover helps too.

  3. I think it definitely depends on the quality of the title. If you can come up with an amazing title that draws people in all on its own, your name shouldn’t be huge – even for famous people. After all, most people are (I hope) more interested in what’s in the book than who wrote it.

  4. LOL Glad I could get you thinking. We actually have both of those David Eddings editions in the house (I have originals, son has new). I wouldn’t suggest making your name as big as David’s second cover, but 50-70% of the width should be eaily read as a thumbnail but it also depends on how it looks with the other elements of your cover design. Can’t wait to see what you settle on.

    1. I think I’ll increase the size of the name such that it can be read as a thumbnail and no larger. But I’ll wait to use the revised graphic until the chapter by chapter editions are all done and they are ready to be packaged as a complete book.

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