Ebook Success: Cover Art, Part 4

Welcome back to Joan's Golden Rules for Ebook Success.

No, I'm not an expert. I'm just a working writer who has had some success with my ebooks. Because I know how hard it is to make a living as a writer, I'm passing on what I have learned as well as how I have put that knowledge to work for me.

I hope this will help shortcut the process for you. Maybe you can achieve your own brand of success in a shorter period of time.

So far, I've discussed:

Ebook Success: Get Educated

Ebook Success: Write Business Plan

Ebook Success: Cover Art, Part 1

Ebook Success: Cover Art, Part 2

Ebook Success: Cover Art, Part 3

As a reminder, here's my list of golden rules--called golden because I hope they will help you earn heaps of gold from your ebook sales.

Joan's Golden Rules

1. Get educated.

2. Write a business plan.

3. Choose cover art wisely.

4. Write professional ad copy.

5. Choose price wisely.

6. Give a smart sample.

7. Write a good book.

8. Customize Marketing and Promotion.

Ebook Success: Cover Art, Part 4

I had wanted to conclude this cover art discussion today, but there's so much information that I want to give that it would make the post as long as one of Joe Konrath's. *g*

Therefore, I'll say this is the last of the Cover Art discussion, but I'm going to post what I'll call an addendum tomorrow and give you Guidelines: Working With A Cover Artist, courtesy of Adina Reeves, my cover artist.

Today, I'm giving you these resources:

1. Resource Directory: Micro-stock Photography sites if you want to DIY

2. Resource Directory: Freelance Graphic Artists

Resource Directory: Micro-stock Photography

Stock Photography is the term applied to photographs licensed for specific purposes. Thanks to the Internet, professional photography is available to anyone who's willing to register, search through images, and use the photo in keeping with the applicable Image License Agreement.

Just about everyone refers to the above as stock photography, but, in actuality, microstock photography services is what non-professional users access. The two terms have become more or less interchangeable.

Getty Images and Corbis are the most well-known stock photography companies, but the Internet offers many microstock photography websites with searchable databases. For our purposes, I'm just going to refer to this affordable photographic art as stock photography.

Some photographs are offered free for use on eBook covers. Others may require a minimal fee for use. Best of all, you can find the images by searching the site's database, purchasing the image, and downloading it instantly.


1. You must register in order to use the site's images.

2. If a fee is required, you may have to purchase a subscription plan or purchase a block of credits. Read carefully.

3. Most images that request a fee are priced according to size with the lowest price for X-small, and the highest for X-large image size.

4. In downloading the image, you want the highest resolution image possible. If all you need is a thumbnail image, the smallest size image will work. For most ebook covers, the medium size works well.

5. Royalty-free does not necessarily mean the image is available without cost. Some stock images are offered by the artist free of cost. Other images require a fee to be paid to download the image. Royalty-free means that you don't have to pay a fee each time you use the image. If it's free or you pay a fee, the image is yours to use as often as you wish. Check the Image License Agreement to know the limits of your usage.

Image License Agreement

Generally speaking, the following represents a usual Image License Agreement at most Stock Photography websites. Read the agreement for whichever website you plan to use and make sure what you want to do is offered by the Image License Agreement. Always follow the agreement and the Terms and Conditions of Service of the website.

Sample -- You May Use The Image

* In digital format on websites, multimedia presentations, broadcast film and video, cell phones.
* In printed promotional materials, magazines, newspapers, books, brochures, flyers, CD/DVD covers, etc.
* Along with your corporate identity on business cards, letterhead, etc.
* To decorate your home, your office or any public place.

Sample -- You May Not Use The Image

* For pornographic, unlawful or other immoral purposes, for spreading hate or discrimination, or to defame or victimize other people, societies, cultures.
* To endorse products and services if it depicts a person.
* In a way that can give a bad name to the Stock Photography Website or the person(s) depicted on the Image.
* As part of a trademark, service mark or logo.
* Selling and redistributing the image either individually or grouped with other images is strictly forbidden.

Contact The Photographer

The Use and Do Not Use sections are usually followed by a statement to contact the photographer if you want to use the image in any way not specified by the above, for example, some of the uses listed below:

* In website templates that you want to sell or distribute.
* For creating printed reproductions that you want to sell.
* On "print on demand" items, i. e., tee shirts, postcards, mouse pads, mugs (products personalized on sites like Cafepress), or other mass-produced items.

Stock/Microstock Photography Websites

Here are some I use frequently. There are many. Just make sure they're credible and that you read their agreements and understand them and follow their parameters to the letter. If you have any doubts about how you may use their images, email them.

Stock Exchange says that they are the leading free stock photography website. I know I use them a lot, and I always include a photo credit embedded in the image to recognize the photographer who made his work available for free. Stock Exchange is now owned by Getty Images.

Reflex Stock offers a subscription plan but also has individual pricing that's affordable for many images.

Big Stock Photo, owned by Shutterstock, is also affordable and operates on a credit system as does most of the websites where you have to pay a fee for images.

Cutcaster is very low-priced and very user friendly. I've uploaded some photographs there and so has my daughter the artist.

Clipart Graphics offers high quality clip art, and there are some book covers that might call for that kind of design.

Free Digital Photos offers free and fee-based images.

StockVault offers free stock photos and images for personal, educational and non-commercial usage. Read their agreement to see if you can use them.

FreeImages offer free images and only request a credit line.

Dreamstime is another site I use frequently because they have a good selection, and they're reasonably priced.

Shutterstock is the largest subscription-based stock photo agency in the world. These are a bit pricey, but if the perfect image is here. . . .

iStockPhoto touts themselves as "the web's original source for user-generated, royalty-free stock photos, illustrations, video, audio and Flash."

Fotosearch has been around more than 20 years, and they're another resource that's pricey.

Resource Directory: Freelance Graphic Artists

If your DIY cover art just isn't good enough--and trust me, nothing screams "cheap eBook" more than an amateurish cover--try one of these freelance book cover artists to get the professional look you need. Since my daughter has taught me most of what I know about graphic art design, I'm listing her first. You can look at any of my book covers to see her work. She has 2 other authors for whom she's providing book covers, but she is open to more cover art work.

I've seen work done by most of the freelance artists listed below. The names of the ones I don't know were provided to me by authors who have worked with them or who know the work of the others. I'm pretty sure you won't go wrong by using any of these.

I wasn't given information about how much they charge so you may have to shop around. I know my daughter charges a flat rate, and her rates are posted on the page for which the link is given.

These aren't in alphabetical order since I'm trying to get this published before the next arctic freeze induced electricity blackout occurs.

Directory of Book Cover Artists

I'm in the process of setting up an Indie Author Resource Page on this blog. If you'd like to be listed as one of the artists, please email me.

Adina Reeves
blakecreative at hotmail dot com

Donna Maloy
Donna at donnamaloy dot com

Angela Waters

BJ West
BJ at BJWest dot net

Emma Peterson


Katerina Vamvasaki
cathringo at gmail dot com

Kim Killion

Kristin Lawrence
Klawrencegraphics at gmail dot com

Mandy Roth aka Natalie Winters

Patricia Ryan
Pat at PatRyanGraphics.com

Patty G. Henderson/Boulevard Photografica
blvdphotografica at aol dot com

Rae Monet

Julie Ortolon

Lex Valentine

Tara at FantasiaFrogDesigns
Stock Designs for Customization
fantasiafrogdesigns at gmail dot com

Check back tomorrow for Guidelines: Working With A Cover Artist, by Adina Reeves, my daughter who is my cover artist.

Drop by next week for Ebook Success: Ad Copy, Part 1.

Takeaway Truth

A rising tide floats all boats. I wish you magnificent ebook sales. If my advice helps, please let me know.


  1. I continue to get a lot out of these posts, Joan. They're like a blueprint of the whole process with so much of the effort and hardwork already done. Thank you for sharing your experience and resources.

  2. Barbara, thank you so much. I put a lot of time into these so I'm glad to know they're helping someone.

    Best wishes,
    Joan Reeves

  3. I just used Kimberly Killion for my backlist futuristic romance title and she did a great job!

  4. Joan, Since the photography on your covers really pops, will you share which site provided which photo for which cover? I realize you and Adina probably crop and color the images to suit your visions, but I think a lot of others would be interested -- since you've been so generous about sharing. . .

  5. Hi, Nancy, I've heard a lot of good comments about Kim.

    Btw, readers, Nancy is the author of the Bad Hair Day Mysteries which I adore! Her next one will be out next spring I think.

    Best wishes,

  6. Cheryl, we use the sites I gave in yesterday's post, particularly iStockphoto, Dreamstime, and SXC (Stock Exchange) though I've used something from all of them probably at one time or another.

    You're right. Adina customizes each photo with various effects, filters, and cropping so that even if it's a popular photo, it looks different from all the other book covers that have used the same photo. That's what a good graphic artist can do for you.

    I set up Lightboxes on all these sites and spend hours going through hundreds of photos to find the perfect one that I think matches the personality of the book. Then I do mockups with a few of the selections.

    When I get what I think is the look I want, I take that mockup to Adina and have her work on it. She's got a giant laptop, and we sit on the couch and play with gradient filters, lighting, color washes, and all those Adobe Photoshop things you can do. She's really expert at it.

    If you want to see some of her photo work that she's what she does with Photoshop, here's a link:


    She's photographing ghost towns this semester.

    Best Wishes,

  7. Cheryl, I realize I didn't answer part of your question. Without consulting my notes, I think the image sources were: Just One Look -- iStockphoto; Still The One -- same; Jane (I'm Still Single) Jones -- Dreamstime I think; The Trouble With Love -- Stock Exchange; Written Wisdom -- iStockphoto.

    I've got about 6 covers in the works right now. Some are Adina's photography, and others are a mixture of the sites I listed.

    Hope that helps.

  8. This is fascinating. Thanks so much for generously sharing your info.

  9. Interesting and important information. It is really beneficial for us. Thanks

  10. Buchgestaltung ... Welcome! Glad to have a German author of an Ebook Guide, Praxishandbuch Self Publishing - Wie Sie Ihr Buch oder EBook selbst veröffentlichen, (for English speakers, that's Practical Guide Self Publishing - How to publish your own book or EBook) visiting.

    How do you view the ebook self publishing scene in Germany and other European countries?