Thursday, May 9, 2013

Adding some color to your life

The bad guy wears black - it’s a convention, isn’t it?

Black is the color of evil, of wrongdoers and of the night but what do the other colors mean? When used as the principal color on a book cover, what does the color convey about the nature of the book itself?

I’ve gone through the main colors and analyzed them – see what you think and how many others examples come to mind.


Any man knows that this
is the color of danger
Red – it’s the color of blood and fire. Red signifies urgency, a need for action or danger ahead. Used in an adventure book it will tell the reader that they should be prepared for action while in a romance it will indicate that there’s plenty of searing passion ahead.

Famous example: Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci code” makes good use of a dull red to suggest a rip-roaring adventure is coming.


Like red it can also mean a call to action such and can even include impulsiveness. Orange also means that there is change ahead – a challenge, perhaps. As a result, orange is an excellent color for a book about exploration, self-improvement or getting fit!

Famous example: Clockwork Orange


It’s a happy, bright color; the perceived color of the sun – an object which is often depicted by children as sporting a smile. To go alongside this cheerfulness, yellow signifies all things positive and enduring. Use it to instill a ‘feel good’ factor about a book such as to complement a tale about someone overcoming hardship or tragedy.
Famous example: National Geographic use a bright yellow in their iconic rectangular logo.


Green is the color of new growth, of development, and of hope for the future. It also instills a sense of calmness and security. Use it on a book cover to indicate the beginnings of something big such as a family saga or other epic.

Famous example: Ironically (probably) on the cover of ‘Animal Farm’.


“Calm blue ocean”. Blue is the color of trust, of calmness, responsibility, confidence in the establishment, inner peace and strength. Blue is often employed by corporations on their brochures to suggest their solidarity and stability. Use on a book to suggest a ‘solid’ read which will entertain without upsetting the reader.

Famous book: Dr Seuss, “The Cat In The Hat”.


Violet means luxury, opulence and wealth and is the chosen color for regal vestments. Because of this, it means romance, inspiration and a high level of positivity and confidence in the future. Use for a happy-ending, feel-good romance or take its ‘creativity’ aspect for a book about hobbies, DIY or self-help.

Famous example: Ian Fleming’s ‘Casino Royale’ uses purple to depict the two sides of his famous hero, James Bond.


It says it all.
The conventional color of evil, the night and all things dark. Black can also indicate sophistication – the famous ‘little black dress’ invented by Coco Chanel. Black can mean power and is often employed to demonstrate a high level of control.

Famous example: The Godfather is a wonderful illustration of the simplicity and implied control of black.


White can even make you suspend
belief with its implied innocence
White, the color of innocence, purity, cleansing and virtue. It’s often seen on the covers of romances, to indicate the good guy (the ‘hero on a white horse’ effect) or as a counterpoint to evil in a ‘black and white’ context. White can also mean simplicity and minimalism – the stripping away of unnecessary modern trappings.

Famous book: Bridget Jones’ Diary

Colors are, of course, just what we choose to see them as. For example, red is the color of danger in the West but the color of good fortune in China.

The theme can’t dictate the colors used on your book’s cover but it’s another factor that’s worth bearing in mind. After all, the cover may be the only part of your book that a potential customer gets to see. You need to make the right kind of impact on the right kind of people; that’s the key to success.
Clive West is a director of Any Subject Books which both publishes books and provides book publishing services to independent authors. He's also author of 4 books including his best-selling collection of short stories with twists in their tails, Hobson's Choice.

1 comment:

  1. Love this post! Don't forget that red is a symbol of power. sex, and love, too. I wear red lipstick every day to give me a boost!