Where To Find Images for Your Self-Published Books

book cover designOne of the most frequently asked questions self-publishers ask us is how to design their book. If you aren’t a photographer or illustrator, you may wonder where to find the images for your book cover design. You obviously want the best cover you can get, but how can you do that? Your book cover will be the first thing people see when they look at your book, so the pressure is on. Thankfully, the Internet exists. Self-publishers can find beautiful images for their book cover online. 

Finding your perfect book cover will take some careful searching and discernment on your part. It’s not all about aesthetics. There are other things you’ll need to consider, like, will the image fit with the text? How does it represent your book? Are you breaking any copyright laws by using the image? 

Self-publishers need to be careful when sourcing their images for book cover design. The best option, if you’re not creating the image yourself, is to look at royalty free stock photography. 

Book Cover Design: Who Does It? 

In traditional publishing, the publishing house would have a team dedicated to book cover design. Self-publishing, however, presents the author with the unique opportunity to decide for themselves how their book will look once it’s printed.

If you want to design the book cover yourself, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The artwork should be visually striking. Whether it’s a fiction book or poetry or nonfiction or memoir, the image should stand out. It should grab the reader right away and be memorable enough to stick with them.
  • The cover art can be simple, or it can be extravagant, depending on author preference and genre. A children’s book, for example, will have a more colorful and busy cover than the cover of a memoir or nonfiction book.
  •  A large amount of cover design will go into the image, however don’t let this upstage the book title. A cover image will attract attention, but the title should keep it.
  • Part of cover design is the spine of the book. The spine is where the pages are stitched and bound together, and it’s another place for the title and author to be displayed. DiggyPOD offers a Free Book Spine Creation service, where the self-publisher can enter their spine information, ensuring the title and author name will fit and look appropriate.

If you’d rather let someone else tackle the book cover design, don’t worry. DiggyPOD offers book cover design for an additional $99 (this is a steal – other companies charge up to $500!). To learn more about our services, click here.

Royalty-Free Images: Stock Photography

Regardless of who is in charge of your book cover design, more likely than not, stock images will be used. Stock photography is photography licensed for varying uses, such as commercial, editorial, entertainment, and artistic purposes. Self-publishers should use royalty free stock photography. 

What does “royalty free” mean? Let’s start by what it doesn’t mean.

  • “Royalty free” does not mean it’s copyright free.
  • It does not mean it’s free of charge. 

Royalty free means that you do not have to pay royalties on the image. You may recognize this word from other blogs we’ve written. For more information about book royalties (which DiggyPOD does not do) read this blog

Basically, what you need to know about royalty free images is that you will pay a one time fee for the image, and there will be copyright restrictions for its use. Once you pay for the photo, you can use it multiple times without paying more each time. 

Types of Royalty-Free Licenses

Use caution when finding a stock image for your book cover. You don’t want to get sued for copyright infringement! There are 3 main types of licenses you’ll see when looking for a stock image:

  • Editorial License: These images are for editorial purposes only, therefore they cannot be used for self-published books or other commercial purposes. However, if you’re a self-publisher who runs a blog, you can use editorial royalty-free stock photos on your blog
  • Standard License: A royalty-free commercial license allows buyers to use the image for any commercial purpose. Self-publishers can use commercial licensed images for book covers, as long as the image is used in less than 500,000 runs or copies. 
  • Extended License: An extended license allows for buyers to use the image for any commercial purposes, and it does not limit you to a number of runs or copies. Self-publishers can use extended licensed images for book cover design.

The downside to royalty-free images is that anyone can purchase and download the image (just because you purchase an image doesn’t mean it’s taken off the market!). If you use a stock photo for your book cover, there’s a chance someone else could, too.

Where to Find Stock Images for Your Book Cover 

Here are the best stock photography sites for book cover design:

  • Shutterstock
  • Stocksy 
  • iStock by Getty Images
  • Getty Images
  • BigStockPhoto
  • Flickr 

Be sure to read each individual site’s user agreements, usages, and license specifications.

Other Book Cover Design Options

Of course, you don’t have to use stock photography in your book cover design. That’s just a good option! Other options include personal photography and artwork. 

  • Photography: You can use your own personal photography for your book cover design. This is a really great option for self-publishers: it’s cost-effective and unique. No one else in the world will have the same book cover as you. Consider using photography for nonfiction and fiction books.
  • Artwork: Drawings or paintings make wonderful and creative book covers. Consider using artwork for memoirs, children’s books, or novels.

Don’t want to worry about book cover design? Let us do it!