Where to find photos for a book cover?

The best place to find photos for your book cover, that's what every writer wants to know. And why? Because you know as well as I do that most of people do exactly what the old saying tells them not to: judge the book by its cover. The book cover design is a key element in your book’s marketing process, and the image used in it needs to be perfect: this is what will make or break your book sales.

The best way to find the perfect photos for your book cover is through a stock photography agency, which offer Royalty Free images for ebooks and paper book covers. In stock photo agencies you’ll find variety, quality and very convenient prices in images for book covers

Book Cover Design: Images are a Must

If you don't already know, any publisher will tell you: your content or text might be amazing, but if you want your book to sell you're going to need an amazing design for the cover. You need people to be drawn to it, to want them to pick it off the shelf and want to see what's inside. If you're fishing out for readers, your cover is a powerful hook.

The best book or e-book cover design is always one that includes an image. Using a photo is one very easy and effective way to make your book appealing for buyers: images attract the eye, it's a well-known, all-time favourite marketing tip.

How and Where to Get Photos for your Cover Design

There's two main ways to get you images to use in your cover:

– Create them from scratch: You can hire a photographer to shoot photos, which will cost you a significant amount of money, and will demand some time. Of course you can snap the photos yourself if you have the skills and that will save you cash, but will add work on your load.

– Buy stock photos: Stock photo agencies sell photos that are already made and ready to use. They have huge online catalogs you can surf, with thousands to millions of options to choose from. These images are very affordable (much more than hiring a custom shoot) and their immediate availability also means you can have your cover ready much sooner.

I think it's a no brainer that stock photography is a great option to go with to create a cover for your book or e-book!

Stock Images for Book Covers: Licenses and Costs

Most online stock photo agencies selling cheap stock images work with Royalty Free license, as it’s one of the most flexible and affordable licensing models out there. You only pay once, and you get a number of usage rights over the image, forever.

However, the Standard Royalty Free license comes with some restrictions. The one you care about knowing is the print run limit: every agency sets a limit of physical or digital reproductions you can distribute of an image. Obviously this has a direct effect when you intend to use a photo in a book or eBook cover.
Before you get disappointed, there’s two good news:

1. Print Run Limit is Wide Enough – There are several agencies whose print run limit in Standard license is large enough as for many of you book publishers out there don’t have to worry.
The StockPhotoSecrets Shop, for example, offers all HD images under a Standard License that allows up to 300,000 copies. A photo with Standard license can cost you from $3,60 to $7,80 each using image packs, and between just $0,16 and $1,40 per image with different subscription options. A very, very conveniently low cost for your book cover image!

2. There is also Extended License – Even if your intended distribution exceeds the Standard print run, these agencies tend to include an Extended License option that, for a higher yet still affordable price, give you access to unlimited copies! Even if you can do with the Standard limit, it’s a smart move to invest in an Extended license from the start: if your book sales rise and you increase your distribution, you will already have the rights to your book cover image assured.
The StockPhotoSecrets Shop has one of the lowest priced Extended Licenses around at just $80 the photo, and down to $60 or $44 per image when buying larger packs. These images come with unlimited print run, and include right to use in products for resale, whose huge benefits you’re about to find out.

Book Cover Images and Marketing: One Stock Photo to Solve Them All

Once you have the perfect book cover design and your distribution plan ready, you still have to outline your marketing strategy. Promoting your book is an integral part in making it the next best-seller. And this is where your book cover image comes around again.

Keeping visual consistency is a top marketing practice, as any designer or marketer can tell you. Most likely you will be using the same photo from your book or eBook cover in your marketing campaign: ads, banners, social media posts, etc. Luckily, the Royalty Free license you acquire will likely cover all these uses. StockPhotoSecrets Shop’s license certainly does.

Photos for Book Cover and Extended License: Make Extra Money from your Book

A successful book or eBook can make you earn much more than just book sales if you have a mind for business, and you’re armed with an Extended License for your book cover photos. How?

One word: merchandising. If your book sells successfully, and your marketing campaign makes it to create a hype about it, you will have the chance to capitalize on that hype by selling items related to your book. A merchandise program can include anything from posters and cards to t-shirts, mugs and beyond. The sky’s the limit.

A Standard license will not cover this intended use, because it forbids the sale of the images for a direct profit. But if you get an Extended License, in addition to unlimited copies you will be granted the right to use the photo in products for resale, which is exactly what you need to sell items with the image on them.

If you think about it, it’s a very little investment that will not only solve any distribution limitation for your book cover, but also give you endless earning possibilities through merchandising.

Bonus Online & Stock Resources for Book Cover Design

High quality photos are not the only thing you will find in stock photo agencies that will help you with the design for your book. In these outlets and around the web you will find valuable tools to complete your design.

Templates – If you want to keep costs low and speed the process, you can benefit from the various graphic templates that agencies put at your fingertips. These are often available in their stock media library, and they include book cover templates that make your or your designer's life easier. Whether it's a simple layout for a front cover or a double-sided printing design to add an internal label, most stock agencies have templates for it and you've to do is edit your text and images in. StockPhotoSecrets Shop has a nice selection of graphic templates ready to download, for example.

Simple Editors – If you have some skill level when it comes to graphics, there's a lot of free online editing tools that would make a great cover creator. Many of them are very easy to use and while they will not have the power of a professional premium editor, they can be more than enough to edit templates or to create simple designs using images and text. You can find several such tools in this great list of alternatives to Adobe Illustrator by Vectorguru. 

Get your Next Book Cover Photo in a Stock Photo Agency

This is one of the wisest (and simplest!) ways to get the ideal book or eBook cover image and ensure your book’s success, all at once.

Stock photos are high quality, there’s a lot of variety to choose from, they’re ready to download and use, and they’re a very cost-effective solution. By investing as little as just over forty dollars, you will have a resource that will potentially earn you thousands or more, right at your fingertips.

If you’re ready to pick your book cover photo right now, you should definitely explore StockPhotoSecrets Shop, where you will not only find beautiful images for your book cover, but also the best and most convenient offers in both Standard and Extended License!

Amos Struck

I am a publisher and entrepreneur in the stock imagery field. I focus on providing knowledge and solutions for buyers, contributors and agencies, aiming at contributing to the growth and development of the industry. I am the founder and editor of Stock Photo Press, one of the largest networks of online magazines in the industry. I am the founder of Microstock Expo, the only conference dedicated to the microstock segment. I created several software solutions in stock photography like WordPress plugins. Plus I am a recurrent speaker at Photokina Official Stage, and an industry consultant at StockPhotoInsight. I am passionate about technology, marketing and visual imagery.

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