(I’ve been running a series on my MySpace blog called “Adventures in Indie Publishing” where I tell everyone how I made a muck up of it all so that they don’t have to. At the moment I’m exploring “How to Get a Cheap Cover” and, after a suggestion from Ruth, I decided to post it here as a series (because it’s a long, long post!)
So far I’ve discussed artwork, both custom and pre-existing, but what if you want a photograph? No problem, there are places to find that too. In fact, this might be easier to find than the artwork was! The very first thing I recommend doing is going to Flickr.com and doing a search for the image you want – for instance burning house. On the individual photo pages scroll down, keeping an eye on the right hand side of the screen. You’ll see a colored square eventually, along with something like “All rights reserved” or “Creative Commons License” etc etc. (For a detailed explanation of licenses see the first blog in the “How to Draw with No money and No talent” series or follow one of the links at the end of this blog). Just because it says all rights reserved doesn’t mean they won’t share it, but if you can find one that says Creative commons you’re more likely to get it.
So, you’ve found your photo – and it’s even a Creative Commons – now what? Now you need to message the photographer and ask them if you can use it. If you have a yahoo account sign in to Flickr with it and then you can just send them a message. If you don’t have one you can check the photographer’s profile to see if they have an email address – or a website that might have their address on it – listed. If they don’t then you’re going to have to sign up for an account. Yahoo accounts are pretty handy though, so not like it’s a BAD thing. I have several myself!
Just like with the artwork, check the date of their last upload. Again, if it was some time ago there’s a chance that they’ve abandoned the account. You can try google searching them, but I’d say just keep looking. However, when you do get a hold of them you run the same risk with this that you ran with the artists – they may well want monetary compensation or even a free copy of the book (I traded one of the pictures in my book trailer – which was licensed under Rights Reserved btw – for a free electronic copy.). At the very least they’ll want credited, so again be sure to get the name they want to appear in the book. KrisyKravesKrisyKreme is a great Flickr account name, but chances are they’re going to want their real name in the book!
You can also get cheap photos from pay sites such as shutterstock.com. They sometimes have a better quality and are more likely to have photographs of people. The plus side to this s that you don;t have to deal with a person, but the down side is you don;t deal with a person. You can’t trade them a free ebook for a photograph, but you’re guaranteed that the transaction will go smoothly. It really depends on your preferences.
And just like with art YOU CAN NOT USE SOMEONE ELSE’S PHOTOGRAPH WITHOUT PERMISSION!! This is stealing, copyright infringement and a lot of other nasty things.
There is one other thing to consider when you use a picture of a person or property for your book cover, and that is to make sure that there has been a model/property release. What is that? Well, we’ll get into that next time, but I’ll add a couple of links about it here too. Generally, if you’re buying the photo from a stock image site, this isn’t something you need to worry about because they handle that. However, if you’re dealing with Jo Schmoe you might want to double check.
Some places to find photos:
Flickr – http://www.flickr.com
Creative common show room:http://www.flickr.com/groups/creativecommons_showroom/
Stock xchange (stock photos): http://www.sxc.hu/
Stock image resources (a list of links to stock image places) http://www.freestockimages.net/resource-list/
Pay sites for photos (links from Ruth Ann Nordin):
My explanations on image license: http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=84054973&blogID=451145831
Creative Commons Website: http://creativecommons.org/about/licenses
All about Model releases (includes a sample release): http://www.danheller.com/model-release.html
Using property releases: http://asmp.org/tutorials/using-property-releases.html