Ben Green – Editorial Assistant and Reviewer
Ben Green – Editorial Assistant and Reviewer

This post will address one very simple issue that I see constantly with book cover designs. That issue is simply color. You can pick virtually any color you want for your book cover.  Obviously there are certain artistic considerations – you want the color to convey what the book is about, etc., but beyond that feel free to choose any color for your book cover. The one exception is white (technically not a color).  White should almost never be used as the background color on a book cover.

What is wrong with white, you ask? This issue with white is simply it looks really, really bad on most websites. It looks epically horrid on Amazon’s suggested reading list and possibly even more notorious on the Kindle reading app.  It also doesn’t look any better on the Barnes & Noble site or on the Nook app, all of which primarily use white backgrounds.

Aside from improving the chance that someone will click on your book from the recommended reading list, or that they will actually stop and notice it while browsing on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, choosing a color other than white also helps get your book shared on other blogs and social feeds.  Many websites use white backgrounds because as a general rule, a white background is highly readable. This may well be the reason you also chose white as the background for your cover, and if people still pulled books off the shelf at the bookstore this might have been a great idea. In the age of the internet, however, a white book cover will hurt you more than anything else.  Many of the sites and bloggers you submit your book or articles to may not even publish them if the images you attach do not look good on their page or they may simply not use the image of your book.

 The other downside is how a white background can affect your ability to use social media. For example, what does a white book cover look like as your profile picture on Facebook or Twitter? It looks like a white background with some text. Half the people who see it probably will not read it and even if they do, how will they know it is a book? The same can also be said for Pinterest and to a degree, even Instagram.

One workaround you can use on social media is that if you already have a book that has a white cover, use a picture of yourself or someone else holding a physical copy of the book. Using this instead of a digital image of the cover at the very least conveys the message “this is a book,” though the trade-off may be that it is hard to read the cover. On Facebook you can then change your background picture to the image of the cover.

The best thing to do is to not make your cover white to begin with. If you already have book covers that are white, then I highly recommend changing them. If you are not convinced, run some split tests or change them and track your conversations for a while.  There are exceptions too; for one, if for some artistic reason you simply cannot use a color other than white, or if for some reason you do not sell or market your books online, or if you’re just special. All of these exceptions are rare, however, and for most Indie authors the best bet is simply to not use a white book cover.

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