Stock Imagery: Beauty & the Beast

The artwork for each cover design on my site sits on a spectrum between low budget and premium budget. Even the premium designs are extremely affordable for professional graphic design. This is due to using stock imagery for the photography and certain other graphics.

The bonuses of stock imagery:

  • There’s a gamut of high-quality images ready to choose from.
  • You don’t need to pay several hundred dollars or into the thousands to get a professional-looking cover.
  • You don’t need to hire models, a photographer, animal handler, etc and spend hours location-hunting for your big expensive shoot.
  • Designers such as myself can get inspired by existing stock shots and make effective pre-made covers at an even more affordable price than a custom-made cover (which takes considerably more time to execute the design).

The pitfalls of stock imagery:

It’s hard to find images that convey your story or character perfectly. A willingness to be open-minded and flexible is a necessity when working with stock shots or expecting a low-budget design.
It’s better to choose a cover that has wow-factor and captures the essence of your story than get an okay-looking cover that has 5-6 accurate details but you had to go with less aesthetically pleasing stock imagery mashed together in order to do it. Showing 1-3 critical aspects of your story using top-notch stock imagery will sell your book better. Nothing will tell your story better than your story will. A book cover has to sell your book.

If you still have firm descriptions and ideas on your wishlist, I understand – it’s your story universe and you’ve taken considerable time to create and write it.

However, your options are:

  • Save up for an illustrator.
  • Hire a photographer, model, props etc for the perfect character image and give them to me to combine with background imagery. I know some photographers who can work at this level, if you don’t know any yourself.

There’s no right or wrong way to go about it – it’s simply a case of being mindful of what your budget is and modifying your expectations if necessary.

Tips for keeping your custom cover fee down:

  • When it comes to checking over your the layout designs or final design, take the time to carefully look at ALL aspects of the work in one sitting and list any desired changes. It’s better to take a couple of days to absorb the work, mentally digest it and come back to me with a single list. I don’t recommend instantaneously requesting change after change as you spot things. It will certainly add to the cost, and you might even regret some of them.
  • Let me know what you don’t like in a cover as well as what you do like. This includes any pet hates for colours, fonts and graphic treatments. If you see covers you don’t like the style of, send me a link. This doesn’t include covers you think are poorly executed. If you spot even a well-made cover in your genre that simply isn’t your taste for your own book, showing me helps get me on the same page as you.

Hope this helps! 🙂