Updated May 2023
If you’re self-publishing a horror novel, there are certain design elements your readers will expect to see in your cover art. At Self-Publishing Relief, we know that the right cover art for a horror novel will both attract and terrify your reader—and get them to pull out their wallets and buy your book! Here are the design trends for horror novel covers that are just the right mix of scary and stylish.
What Lurks In The Dark
Sometimes the scariest thing about your book cover is what potential readers can’t see. The use of negative space on book covers allows readers to fill in the monsters and madness for themselves. Be it a set of glowing eyes or a darkened silhouette, minimal details can achieve a massive impact and leave the spooky specifics to your writing. But while the monsters on your cover don’t necessarily have to be believably detailed, your writing really should be.
Fearfully Fused Fonts
Another trend in horror book covers is to combine different font families for an unsettling effect. While some authors still use traditional gothic fonts for their book titles, others are contrasting decorative fonts with traditional serif and sans serif fonts to give the impression that something is off––the perfect window to a hair-raising story. A book cover’s title shows an understanding of the story within, so maybe that blood-dripping font you’ve been considering is the right choice after all. However, a subtle combination of spooky and standard fonts will help your cover look professional while boosting its scare-appeal.
Terribly Good Filters
Images are an important part of any book cover design, but for a horror novel, you want to kick the fright factor up a notch. Filters can be used to transform a normal-looking photo into something eerie and nerve-racking. This filter effect is used on many horror book covers featuring blurred or distorted images. The right filter can create a visual disturbance through warped or hazy graphics. Sepia-toned or black-and-white filters can also produce disturbing images by desaturating the color from a photo for an aged appearance. These simple changes can turn a family photo into something suitable for the mantel in a house of horrors.
For horror novels, designers will deliberately crop the images and graphics in an unconventional manner. For example, some horror covers feature portraits with eyes or mouths cropped out to ramp up the eek! factor. You might also consider cutting the text to look torn and clawed for a terrifying twist. However, the trick is to make your image crops look intentional, not accidental or sloppy; otherwise your cover may come across as wonky or poorly designed. Remember, there’s a fine line between creepy and cheesy!
Question: What is your favorite horror novel book cover?