Sometimes a client will come to me with very little money on their hands – or so they claim. For the most part I take them at their word. After all, I also often find myself with very little money on my hands. 🐱
One thing a few clients have done to keep from spending money – whether they had it to spend or not – is to find images for their covers using Google image search. Which means nine times out of ten they’re stealing pictures they have no right to take. I’ve even had one client tell me he was an artist, scan magazine advertisements into jpg format, and “paint” over them – very badly – in an attempt to make them into his own original “art”.
Folks. Don’t do that. Please. I even have good reasons for you not to do that.
1. You can get the pants sued off of you. And I’m not joking about this. You can get sued. There are a lot of people out there right now who thought “borrowing” such and such a picture to post on their blog in a noncommercial statement wouldn’t get them into trouble, and lo! It did. How do you think the court is going to feel if you’re being sued over a COMMERCIAL venture? You’ll end up spending hundreds if not thousands more being sued than if you just paid the $10 or even $50 it took to “buy” the picture through a stock website.
2. Very often the picture you’re using is low quality, too small, and just looks plain bad. A bad cover chases away readers – which means you could potentially be losing more money than you would have gained by attracting them with a professional and attractive image you legally had the right to use.
3. It makes you a jerk, and if word gets out it makes you a warned-about jerk. Which chases readers away, as well as potential publishers, etc.
4. It shows a complete lack of care for your story. That lack of care is a reflection on the work not read – and no matter how good your work is, you’ll lose readers by that first impression alone.
There are ways to get and make covers when you’re on a limited budget. You can draw them yourself if you’re good with pen and color. You can get an artistic friend to do it for you. Or you can do what I sometimes do for clients and find them in an open resource website.
There are a few websites for this. Public Domain Pictures (http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/) has got to be my personal favorite: the collection there is growing, and some of the photos aren’t half bad. And it’s a wonderful exchange.
If you do find photos there you can use and are on a limited budget, the images are free for private AND commercial use. For a small fee of about $5 you can buy a premium membership to download the larger files such as you would need for a paper print run. And, if you have another $5 to spare, you have the option of buying the photographer a cup of coffee for their donation to the world at large.
I myself have bought cups of coffee there AND have an account to donate my own photos to give back to the world at large for helping me (and my clients) out a little.
My second favorite is probably Stock Free Images (http://www.stockfreeimages.com/). You have to have a membership with Dreamstime to download from there, but it’s 100% free and has a huge selection. The only stipulation is you must must MUST give credit to the photographer if you use their work – as well you should!
These are but two examples I keep in my cover art resources list here on the blog, but there are many more out there. There’s also Open Clipart, StockXchange, CG Textures, and sometimes members of DeviantArt will donate something they’ve done for the cause. You just have to look around.
If you do, keep your etiquette in mind.
1. If you can, tip the artist even if you’re only giving $2. It supports the arts when you do, shows thankfulness, and helps enable more images to become available for free in the future.
2. Make sure the rights to the image are free for what you intend to do. The websites are generally very good about being clear on rights usage. If you’re in doubt, don’t guess. Contact the artist and get permission.
3. Always always ALWAYS give the artist credit. You don’t have to do this on the front cover – and that’s not the norm anyway. Your license page, you know that part that talks about copyright 2012 and warns other people not to steal YOUR work? That’s where you put the credit.
Yes! There are ways to have excellent looking covers while being able to save money here and there. Search them out, find them! And if you discover another website similar to the ones I’ve listed here, please let me know so I can add them to the database.