1. 803andy
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    803andy New Member

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    The Cons of Writing A Book with A lot of Historic Pictures??

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by 803andy, Jan 11, 2011.

    Hello,

    I have a great idea/theme for a picture book that I plan to write this year. The book will be comprised of 200 images of generally unknown historical figures from a a century or two in the past and an accompanying bio.

    I do not want to self-publish, I will be sending the book off to various publishers.

    Will the fact that none of the pictures are mine, limit my chance for publication?

    Is it costly for publishers to license/acquire/use pictures from another source?

    Thanks,
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    The mere fact that you include the pictures in your book is a copyright infringement - if they are protected. If they're old enough that they're in the public domain, then no worries.

    If you have 200 images that are still covered by copyright and the publisher would be expected to seek out and secure permissions for all of them (or even research them all to see if permission was needed), then yes I think that would have a negative impact on your chances.

    As for licensing costs, it varies widely. You have to negotiate that with the license owner.
     
  3. 803andy
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    803andy New Member

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    ^^^ Yes I believe most of these image are of public domain. When I use google image search I usually see many, many variations of one or two images of each person.

    How can I tell if an image is of pubic domain?

    Thanks,
     
  4. SashaMerideth
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    SashaMerideth Contributing Member

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    Just because the images show up on Google does not mean they are out of copyright. You will need to find each individual picture's copyright status. No easy way I am afraid.
     
  5. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    The easiest way is by the age of the image. If it is from prior to 1923, for example, and was first registered or published in the U.S., then you're OK (at least, OK in the U.S.). If it was published between 1923 and 1977, but without a copyright notice, then it should also be in the public domain (in the U.S.).

    The problem with taking images off of Google is that you may be using someone's much more recent digital photo of an old image, and so whoever snapped that photograph "might" have copyright in that particular photo you are using. It can get rather thorny.

    A publisher may prefer to use their own images and staff in the end.
     
  6. twopounder
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    twopounder Member

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    What they say is true. However, you could kill two birds with one stone by picking a theme to stick with (military, artist, politicians, etc). People who buy those books are typically looking for something specific. This will decrease the number of photos to research.
     
  7. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    My recommendation would be that you just include the historical bio parts (i.e. the writing). For the pictures, maybe you or the publisher could hire an illustrator to draw sketches of the people (but, you know, so they look professionally drawn). This would take care of the abovementioned complications.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yes, short of having releases for all the photos you included, submitting the text only, leaving the graphics up to the publisher, is the best way to go...

    if the subjects you chose to spotlight are 'different' and interesting enough and your writing is good enough, that should give you a good chance of snagging a publisher...

    and i agree that having a 'theme' would be best...
     
  9. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    Caveat: others here are much more knowledgeable about publishing and copyright than I.

    "...When I use google image search I usually see many, many variations of one or two images of each person...."

    Keep in mind that only the ORIGINAL photo would be public domain. Recent copies may be copyright controlled by the photographer (or contracting agency) who took the photo &/or processed it &/or scanned it to computer.

    Imagine taking a photo of the Mona Lisa, but doing it as a negative image, while making all but her smile fuzzy. We'd say that photo was an independent work of art, deserving of protection. Now imagine that the same photographer also took a realistic photo - s/he would still need to decide on shutter speed, lighting, lens filters, etc. It would still be a protected work of art.

    Not insurmountable, by any means, though. There is plenty of president for the sort of book you propose. Done well, such books are very interesting and fun to flip through.

    I would write up a proposal, with a mock up of at least some of the book as a rough-draft. An agent/publisher would then be able to advise on how onerous the final product would be to produce.

    -Frank
     
  10. 803andy
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    803andy New Member

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    Thanks for all the replies.

    I will most likely go the mocks/proposal route.

    Time to read books on that......
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    a book proposal must include polished sample chapters, not a rough draft of anything, if you hope to interest an agent or publisher in it...

    agents and publishers don't have time to spend on advising would-be authors on how hard or easy their project ideas will be to 'produce'... they only look at serious proposals by serious writers who can demonstrate with it that they either have, or are capable of completing a marketable book, of contracted to do so...

    and you don't send a 'mock-up' of the book's pages, since the design of the book is up to the publisher... only samples of the text and a list of illustrations... and the latter must be provably in the public domain, or you must have signed permission of the copyright owners to use them in your book...
     

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