March 16, 2018

How to Design an Out of This World Science Fiction Cover

by Ryan

I need a new science fiction cover for my book Dark Matters. The last cover didn't work—my artwork probably had something to do with that, along with other factors. I'm working on new editions of my books (including brand new titles never released), and this time I want to create covers that invite readers to pick up the books. There are certain key elements that I want to look at before finalizing my new covers.


Doing My Science Fiction Cover Research

Much like I did with researching cozy mystery covers, I researched science fiction covers on current best selling titles. I followed essentially the same process, just looking at science fiction on Amazon instead to get a sense of what works today.

The straight best sellers lists contain a mix of different genres of science fiction and fantasy. It's worth taking a look to get an overall sense. After that, I took a look at the specific subgenres that I might want to target for my book.

What is Dark Matters?

It features Brock Marsden, a detective who uses Galactic technology to combine alien DNA with his own in order to gain new abilities that help him solve crimes. He's a member of the Moreau Society, a group of people who share their experiments with individual genetic modification. Brock investigates the murder of a young woman, leading him into darker corners of Olindan society.

Other worlds, advanced technology, a multitude of aliens, and an engaging cast of characters, Dark Matters might fit the Genetic Engineering category, Hard Science Fiction, or Adventure

Science Fiction Covers

Elements of Successful Science Fiction Covers

Certain common elements stand out while looking over the lists.

  1. Covers are colorful.
  2. Covers tend to have large, decorative fonts, particularly for titles.
  3. Fonts have a 'science fiction' feel and may also have various effects e.g. glowing, multi-colored, transparency, etc.
  4. Covers use Illustrations more than photos, many don't focus on people, using landscapes or more symbolic images. People are often small, silhouetted, or otherwise deemphasized. 
  5. Spaceships are not required.

Putting Together a Science Fiction Cover

Taking my notes and ideas about the novel, I've selected artwork and put together a new cover which I think is much more effective than my previous attempts. 

The design is simple and clean, and clearly conveys a science fiction feel. It works well with the book. It'll be interesting to see how this new cover works with readers.

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Dark Matters Cover
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Ryan M. Williams lives a double life as a full-time career librarian and a multi-genre writer with over twenty books. He writes across a range of genres including science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, mystery, horror, and romance. He earned a Master of Arts degree in writing popular fiction from Seton Hill University and a Master of Library and Information Science from San Jose University. His short fiction has appeared in anthologies from Pocket Books, WMG Publishing, and in On Spec Magazine.

Ryan M. Williams

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