What Photos Can You Use For Book Covers?
What is the difference between a marginal book cover and a fantastic one? This is usually not such a simple question to answer, however, most people do know the difference between good and bad covers when they see it. This is usually because a great book cover immediately appeals to the reader and starts up an instant, visual conversation.
A great book cover should tell the reader a few different things:
A hint of what the book is about.
The professional quality of the book.
Who the target audience may be.
What the reader will get from the book.
The first two points are common to every book, and a book cover that is good (but not great) will stop here. A marginal cover has a decent title, and a professional, well-balanced design, but it won’t stand out on the shelf in the bookstore and won’t scream “pick me up!”.
However, a great book cover is carefully targeted and designed for the book’s ideal audience. It should grab their attention and shout that they need to buy it, as soon as they spot it on the bookstore shelf.
Right about now, you may be asking yourself the following questions. How does a book cover do this? Is there a way to guarantee you’re creating a book cover that will do all these things?
There is no precise formula for the kind of art, design, or style that takes a good or marginal cover to a great one. Great covers can use original illustration and photography, stock images, or even just typography. However, a great book cover also has a distinct personality and tells a story.
If you’re in the process of designing your book cover and wondering where you can find the right imagery or photos, pause for a moment. Take a step back from the design and spend some time deciding exactly what you need to make that cover stand out from the crowd.
The real key to the best book cover is to design it with a clear purpose in mind. That purpose is to give the right message to the right audience.
A lot of authors assume that they will need to use stock photography or illustrations for their covers. However, don’t start looking at hundreds of stock photos for ideas before you have a clue what you actually want. On the contrary, first decide on the direction you want your cover to go, and then decide where to get the images you need.
The Best Places to Get Photos For Your Cover Design
There are two main ways that you can get illustrations or photography to use for a book cover.
Create them from scratch: You could hire a photographer to shoot original photos for you, which can be very expensive and will take a fair amount of time. Or, if you’re a good illustrator or photographer, you could create the images yourself. This saves you money but does add more to your workload, which is likely already pushed to the limit.
Buy stock photos: Stock photo agencies, like Period Images, sell high quality photos that have already been made and ready to use. These sites have large online catalogs that you can browse, with thousands of options to choose from. These images are much more affordable than having custom photos taken. They are also available immediately, which can save you time and money.
Stock photography is a great option and definitely one you should consider for your book or ebook.
Are There Any Risks To Using Stock Images?
Unless you are a professionally trained graphic designer, it’s not a good idea to attempt to design your own book cover. However, if you have already worked out what your cover concept is going to be, and know exactly what stock images you need, there are a few things that you should keep in mind before opting for stock images as cover art.
You Can’t Prevent Others From Using The Same Image
The first issue with using stock art for your book cover is that it is a stock image. You can buy a license to use it, but so can anybody else. Unless you are going to change the stock art in a significant way, which is possible, there is a chance that you will see the same image on someone else’s book.
Stock Photography Can Have Certain Limitations
When a photographer takes a photograph, they own the copyright to the actual photo, and you can just buy a license that allows you to use it. However, this does not mean you have unlimited rights to use the photograph.
For example, if the photo is of the castle at Disney World, this will be a problem. It’s unlikely that you will be allowed to use Disney’s intellectual property on the cover of your book. You also are not allowed to use a photo of a recognizable person for your cover without getting a release from the model. Children are even more strictly protected in photographs.
Always Read The Fine Print
Authors often freely grab stock photos that are under a creative commons license and just paste them onto their book covers and call their job done. However, you might not actually have the legal right to use them for your book cover.
There are a few different levels of creative commons license. None of these levels is the same as being in the public domain. You may not be able to use the photo commercially. Cover art is considered commercial.
Be careful about utilizing free art on your cover. Rather, you should purchase a license through a reputable site to ensure you are allowed to use it. This will also give you greater peace of mind that your book release will go smoothly.
Where To Find Stock Photos For Book Covers
Where can you find stock art if you want to use it?
There are any number of big stock photo websites that are reputable, including Adobe Stock, Getty, and Stocksy. There are also sites that specialize in stock imagery for book covers, such as Period Images. We offer thousands of images for you to choose from all at reasonable prices. You can also contract with us for a custom shoot if you want something exclusive. The images on the bigger sites often come with a larger price tag.
When you’re searching, look at plenty of images. Don’t just choose from the first page of your search results. Finding the right one can take time and investigation. Read reviews and ask questions.