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  1. Sam Webb

    Sam Webb Member

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    Book Covers

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Sam Webb, Mar 12, 2017.

    How do people come up with covers? Im afraid that if I try and use any Picture I see, it could cause a huge issue with copyright. Can someone please share what they do so I can figure out whats right.
     
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  2. sprirj

    sprirj Contributing Member

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    Hi Sam,

    I work in graphic design at a printers, and if you are self publishing you have three avenues open to you.

    a) design the cover yourself - look at similar book styles in bookshops for ideas (eg if you have written a crime novel, make it look like one - it's no good picking a font you like if it looks more like a fantasy with wizards etc.

    b) commission an artist or friend to do the cover - it would be a good idea to brief them, or give them the book to read. So they get a feel for it.

    c) purchase an image from an image library like Istock or Getty. You'll have to read the small print though to work out what you need to buy, images come with different purchasing options, ie, where in the world you can use the image, how many times your book can be printed using that image, limits on web use, merchandise with said image.

    If you are hoping for a publisher to take you on they will employ a design agency to come up with something or have an in house art director, so just make sure to proof read anything before signing it off for print, and they'll deal with the legal stuff of copyright.
     
  3. Forinsyther

    Forinsyther Member

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    This is good advice, thank you, because I was having similar problems :)
     
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  4. JE Loddon

    JE Loddon Active Member

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    I second iStock. It's not expensive to buy the rights to a photo, you get a license, so you don't need to worry about anyone coming after you. And, they have fantastic photos. And yeah, look through popular books in your genre, and what they've done with the covers. Don't copy any of them, but try to get a feel for what they all have in common, and how you can use your own take on it.
     
  5. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Sam Webb, in a previous post you were asking about how to find a publisher, and in this one you're asking about how to design your book cover--those things don't really go together. If you're looking for a publisher, you don't need to worry about a cover; they're in charge of that.

    Also in previous post you said you were three chapters into your first book. So maybe these other questions are just sort of daydreaming-support, but make sure you don't get distracted from your chief job right now--writing the rest of the chapters and getting that book finished! You don' t find a publisher or get a cover designed for an unfinished book.

    If you do decide to self-publish, I strongly recommend getting a cover designer. They really don't cost much and the difference in product is really noticeable. I read people on writing forums giving tips on how to produce their own covers and then I go and look at their covers and... well, they almost always look really home-made and unprofessional. It's hard to get notice in the world of self-publishing; a crappy cover is an unnecessary strike against you.
     
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  6. blueshogun96

    blueshogun96 Member

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    This thread is quite informative. I was tempted to start one myself, but the OP has beaten me to it.

    So, if I were to find a publisher, does this mean that they will cover the task of getting the cover artist? And if so, will I be at their mercy as to what it would look like? I have my own image in mind, but who knows, maybe someone else could do better.

    Also, if I were to self-publish, where would I go about finding an artist? The idea I had for cover art would be hand drawn instead of a few random images and some photoshop. I ask because if I can't find a publisher, or if self publishing is just too much work for what it is worth, then I will opt for the digital release over Amazon KDP. This will be my first novel, and the longest story I have ever written. Of course, I have to focus on finishing it first. My biggest goal is not so much making a living, but I do want to make my writing(s) known to the world as well as gain a bit of profit from it as a bonus.

    Thanks,

    Shogun.
     
  7. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    The amount of input you have into the cover design will depend on your publisher - as a general rule, the bigger the publisher, the less input you'll have.

    If you self-publish, you can commission cover art from wherever you want - most of my covers are designed by cover artists using some version of stock photos, but I've also found work at Deviant Art. You can do whatever you want.

    Note: publishing through KDP is self-publishing. Most self-publishers rely pretty heavily on Amazon.
     
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  8. JE Loddon

    JE Loddon Active Member

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    I did my own cover, and it looks pretty bad, so it's definitely worth putting the time in to find a decent artist who can put something together for you. When people browse through the Kindle books on Amazon, the cover is the first thing they see.
     
  9. Sam Webb

    Sam Webb Member

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    Ok but is their any places you can go and find images online to do you own cover. Like pictures that aren't copyrighted and you can use them without being brought up on charges?
     
  10. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributing Member Contributor

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    My own personal experience with my publisher Less Than Three Press is that the first step was to fill out a questionnaire, where one of the questions was what kind of cover I preferred. I just stated that I preferred photo-realism as opposed to illustration, and also linked to a fanart cover I loved that someone had made for the free online version on of the book.

    They commissioned a graphic artist who provided four different covers to choose from, and I picked my favorite. I did ask for one change - in the first version of the cover I picked, if you looked closely you could see that one hand was wearing a wedding band. I asked for it to be removed, as my characters do not get married or even suggest that they might want to get married in the book. They complied and I had a cover that I was 100% in love with, designed by the amazing Kirby Crow.
     
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  11. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    There are theoretically free image sites, but I wouldn't use one for something like a book cover. Your book cover is a huge part of your marketing, and if you find that some idiot uploaded your cover image even though they don't own it, then you have to change the cover and also possibly face a copyright suit.

    If I were self-publishing, I would pay money for an image that has a company standing behind it, or I'd hire a proper respectable artist to design a cover and get the my rights nailed down in a written contract. If I couldn't afford that, I'd design my own cover, however horrible that might look.
     
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  12. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Dark, is it not? Contributor

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    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
    You can look at pixabay or on deviant art where you are aloud to use the
    images for free, but each artist or poster will have some condition such
    as wanting to know in advance what it is used for and an accreditation
    on the work it is being used in. Pixabay is a bit more liberal and you
    can choose to credit the artist or not, but they recommend it anyway.

    There are other sites that charge a dollar (or currency equiv.) per image
    for stock images, and you have to credit the poster or artist.

    If you know how to work programs like Photoshop or GIMP, you can
    make your own covers. But there are websites that have pre-fabbed
    cover designs that you can choose from, but they can cost you $40-90
    per cover based upon the creator who supplied it. They have the
    many different formats to choose from, and you fill in the title
    and such your self. Though if you have the money to burn, finding
    a decent artist will be in the $80-200 range, but you will have a
    custom cover.

    For reg pubbing, I assume they don't give you much of a choice on
    what your cover will look like, but they pretty much take such a
    responsibility as they are doing all the hard work for you.
     
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  13. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    In the U.S., use images from before 1923. Or images produced by the federal government (or some states). If you find an image online that says it is free, you're relying on whoever posted the image. Since copyright infringement is a strict liability offense, you're liable if you take someone's word for it being free and it turns out they're wrong.
     
  14. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale "Cue the artillery" Contributor

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    The problem with using a legit free image is that you have no assurance that someone else isn't using it too. I saw a self-published Kindle book some time ago with a pretty cool cover, then later saw it (minus text) as someone's avatar in an unrelated forum, and finally it popped up in my facebook feed from a horror page. Looks like it was a legal free image, but I'd definitely want exclusivity if I was using an image to help sell my stories.
     
  15. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    You may not get exclusivity from the stock photo sites, either, not unless you pay significantly more for it.

    Frustrating, but true.
     
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  16. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale "Cue the artillery" Contributor

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    Good to know.
     
  17. JE Loddon

    JE Loddon Active Member

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    iStock (http://www.istockphoto.com/gb) sell stock photos. If you buy one, it comes with a standard license that covers ebooks. I think the licensing is a bit more complicated if you want to produce printed books, so you'll need to read through the licensing information. You don't get exclusive use of the photo, so as others have said, there is a possibility of someone else using it. There are thousands of pictures on there, though. Their licenses include insurance, which means if anyone tries to claim you've illegally used their photo, you have some cover, though iStock wouldn't be even selling the pictures if they thought there was a possibility the person submitting the photo to them wasn't the legitimate owner.
     
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  18. Lew

    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with @BayView on both points... First, finish your work, before worrying about covers. If you go traditional, agents/publishers will not want to see your cover, unless maybe you are on contract.

    Second, go with a professional if you self-publish. I initially thought I would do my own, but my efforts frankly turned out amateurish, and everyone on this site discouraged me from that route. FionaJayde Media did my final one, a beautiful job front and back for not much money at all, and everyone has said the book absolutely does not look self-published. You can see her work here on "The Eagle and the Dragon" on member publications. I did my own for "Come, Follow Me," also on this site, but kept it simple. That is a short story for which I did not expect a lot of sales, though it has done much better than I expected. I may upgrade that to a professional one but for now that one is what it is.
     
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  19. OurJud

    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think a lot depends on the vibe you want from the cover. Chances are if I ever wrote a novel the cover would need to be grungy/dirty/distorted/worn/aged, meaning that I can snap away at any old street with my iphone and then go to work on it with a photo-editor dirtying it up. Slap some grungy font on top and you're done. Result, something that's infinitely better than 90% of the DIY SP covers out there.
     
  20. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    You want your cover to be professional. It's not enough to say you can make a cover better than the crappy self published covers that exist (I'm not saying you are saying that @OurJud). As a self published author, your competition isn't just other self published authors. Your fiercest competition is the professionally edited, marketed, and covered works put out by the big publishing houses. Your book pops up next to them in Amazon search results. If you can make a professional quality cover yourself, that's great. If not, hire someone who can.
     
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  21. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Covers aren't just about the photograph, though - the print is surprisingly important. There's also an element of marketing and knowing what different readers expect in their covers.

    Not saying you can't do it, just saying don't underestimate the skills involved.
     
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  22. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's the typography that often most clearly gives away a self-published book. I don't think that "grungy font", without knowledge of typography, will fix that. You may have knowledge of typography, but if not...
     
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  23. Centauri Rose

    Centauri Rose Member

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    I use photoshop and build layers and layers of pictures and text and effects to make it my own.
     
  24. OurJud

    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh definitely, and I don't underestimate professionally designed covers. It's DIY covers I'm referring to. Yes, the whole resolution and getting high quality images fit for professional printing is a major factor (not suggesting you can do any of this with a free photo-editor and home printer) but as far as designs go the vast majority of SP covers stink to high heaven.

    Agreed. Up until a discussion on this forum a few years ago about font, I somewhat naively thought all those websites out there offering free fonts for download would be just fine, but of course this isn't so. A professionally designed, vector font is a whole different ball game, and not free for good reason.

    I suppose I was saying a mock-up can be done pretty simply at home. Once you have the mock up you at least have something to work with in terms of design.

    But what the OP doesn't mention is if their cover is going to be used for an actual book, requiring professional printing and such, or just an e-cover which is altogether simpler to do yourself.
     
  25. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    And there's that kerning thing. I only know enough about kerning to suspect when it hasn't been done, but that's enough to know that if I ever want to create something like a cover or a poster that actually has to look decent, I'm not qualified to do it.
     

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