When I began this crazy journey into self-publishing way back in prehistoric 2010, I had no idea I’d get so good at it that I’d eventually start a service to help other writers. But that’s what I do, and I enjoy it. It beats installing tires and working in a call center—both jobs I held at various times during my misspent youth. A big part of the joy I take in what I do today is sharing some of the things I’ve learned over the years. Things I learned the hard way. Like whether to choose white paper or cream paper for my books.
Self-publishing is easy, but it's also hard. You have to wear a lot of hats, and you often have to think less like a writer and more like a graphic designer. Among the innumerable and sometimes confusing things you have to think about when embarking upon the self-published route (like finding a competent editor, hiring someone to create your cover, choosing the right BISAC categories, and doing keyword research for best sales results) is your book’s interior design.
I can’t stress enough how important this is. So I should probably stress it again. A book’s interior design is critically important. There, I stressed it.
Your book interior is what your readers are going to be staring at for the duration of time they spend reading it. In most cases, the interior design can even be the make-or-break attribute that causes someone who’s just browsing to either buy your book or put it down and keep shopping.
For these reasons, you should make it clean and professional. This involves a laundry list of things, from using attractive fonts to knowing how to number pages, but there's something else that a surprisingly large number of self-published authors keep getting wrong: making the choice between plain white paper and cream paper.
Cream paper is the only paper you should be using if your book is mostly text.
Use white paper only for books that contain color images. These show up better on white paper. For any other type of book, you should be choosing cream paper, and cream paper only.
If you’re not convinced, go to your bookshelf (or your bedside table, or your bathroom) and pick up a book printed by a major publisher. Crack it open and have a look. If what you see isn’t a creamy off-white, it’s either an anomaly or it was published by someone who should have read this blog post first.
In my personal experience, books printed on white paper cause eye strain. Books printed on cream paper don't. Simply put, they're easier on the eyes.
As a self-published author, one of your many jobs is to remove all obstacles standing in the way of someone reading and enjoying your book. When you use cream paper, you take away one of those obstacles.