Shoot 21 – Future Cop Stock Photography

For Nisha’s second concept, we went full Sci-Fi – with a tactical / futuristic street-cop getup. As with all of our recent sets, there are 200+ poses to choose from in this collection!!

Sci-Fi stocks like you’ve never seen before…

Here’s a look at some of the images from the set:

NeoStock - Nisha Future Cop V - Stock Photography

Dramatic Profile

NeoStock - Nisha Future Cop IV - Stock Photography

Dual Pistols

NeoStock - Nisha Future Cop III - Stock Photography

Calm and Poised

NeoStock - Nisha Future Cop II - Stock Photography

Space Cannon

NeoStock - Nisha Future Cop I - Stock Photography

Fighting Stance

View the full gallery for this set at:

Nisha Future Cop Stock Photography Gallery

Our next shoot will be male ‘Mystery Thriller’ and ‘Action’… We have a GREAT model lined up for this one, so watch this space for some incredible high-octane shots!!

To stay up to date / have a say in what we create, come jump onboard at our NeoStock Focus Group.

Shoot 021 Credits:

Photography: Tom Parsons, Hair & Makeup by Suzanna Forrister-Beer (Makeupps by Suzanna), Model: Nisha Aaliya. Shot at Fire Eye Land studios, Margate.

— Team NeoStock

Shoot 21 – Fantasy Assassin Stock Photography

Our recent set with Nisha is by far our most ambitious Fantasy Assassin set to date We commissioned hand-made custom bracers and gaiters – so this is a look that you won’t find ANYWHERE else!!

There’s a mind-boggling 228 poses in this collection, plenty to choose from!!

Here’s a look at some of the images from the set:

NeoStock - Nisha Fantasy Assassin V - Stock Photography

Vampire Stakes!!

NeoStock - Nisha Fantasy Assassin IV - Stock Photography

Walk of Defiance

NeoStock - Nisha Fantasy Assassin III - Stock Photography

Dramatic From Behind

NeoStock - Nisha Fantasy Assassin II - Stock Photography

Prowling the Perimeter

NeoStock - Nisha Fantasy Assassin I - Stock Photography

Dual Blades

View the full gallery for this set at:

Nisha Fantasy Assassin Stock Photography Gallery

Nisha’s second shoot is a Sci-Fi affair, titled ‘Future Cop’ – images for that set will be uploaded to the blog… TODAY!!

To stay up to date / have a say in what we create, come jump onboard at our NeoStock Focus Group.

Shoot 021 Credits:

Photography: Tom Parsons, Hair & Makeup by Suzanna Forrister-Beer (Makeupps by Suzanna), Model: Nisha Aaliya. Shot at Fire Eye Land studios, Margate.

— Team NeoStock

Shoot 20 – Mystery Thriller Stock Photography

Natalia’s second set is a high-impact Myster, Thriller & Suspense theme – perfect for those projects that require a leading lady with a healthy dose of mystery and intrigue.

With over 225 poses, this is an INCREDIBLY versatile collection!!

Here’s a look at some of the images from the set:

NeoStock - Natalia Mystery Thriller I - Stock Photography

Deadly Pursuit

NeoStock - Natalia Mystery Thriller II - Stock Photography

Elegant

NeoStock - Natalia Mystery Thriller III - Stock Photography

Woman on a Mission

NeoStock - Natalia Mystery Thriller IV - Stock Photography

Who Goes There?

NeoStock - Natalia Mystery Thriller V - Stock Photography

A brisk Walk

View the full gallery for this set at:

Natalia A. Mystery Thriller Stock Photography Gallery

We shot ANOTHER great model this month, and we’ve got two more sets landing very soon: ‘Fantasy Assassin’ and ‘Future Cop’. Watch this space!!

To stay up to date / have a say in what we create, come jump onboard at our NeoStock Focus Group.

Shoot 020 Credits:

Photography: Tom Parsons, Hair & Makeup by Suzanna Forrister-Beer (Makeupps by Suzanna), Model: Natalia Afanasiuc. Shot at Fire Eye Land studios, Margate.

— Team NeoStock

 

Shoot 20 – Medieval Adventurer Stock Photography

We’ve gone for a historical fantasy concept, for this latest set starring the lovely Natalia A.

With a staggering 226 poses to choose from and a ‘hair-up’ style, this is an INCREDIBLY versatile set for all high fantasy projects 🙂

Here’s a look at some of the images from the set:

NeoStock - Natalia Medieval Adventurer V - Stock Photography

Casting Magic

NeoStock - Natalia Medieval Adventurer IV - Stock Photography

The Assassin Creeps

NeoStock - Natalia Medieval Adventurer III - Stock Photography

Dramatic From Behind

NeoStock - Natalia Medieval Adventurer II - Stock Photography

The Wandering Squire

NeoStock - Natalia Medieval Adventurer I - Stock Photography

Mysterious Hooded

View the full gallery for this set at:

Natalia A. Medieval Adventurer Stock Photography Gallery

We have some very excited ‘Mystery, Thriller & Suspense’ shots landing tommorow, featuring the same model!!

To stay up to date / have a say in what we create, come jump onboard at our NeoStock Focus Group.

Shoot 020 Credits:

Photography: Tom Parsons, Hair & Makeup by Suzanna Forrister-Beer (Makeupps by Suzanna), Model: Natalia Afanasiuc. Shot at Fire Eye Land studios, Margate.

— Team NeoStock

The Indie Author’s Guide to Hiring a Cover Artist

The hallowed day has come!! After rigorous re-writes, edits, and a final layer of polish – your manuscript is as good as it’s ever going to be. It’s time to unleash this beast into the wild…

To complete the project however, there’s a final piece of the puzzle left to tackle: THE COVER ART.

Bajillions of words have been written on the importance of cover art, so I won’t wax lyrical on the topic here – any professional worth their salt KNOWS the book cover can make or break a release. To put things into context I’ve personally worked on projects where a re-brand (new book cover) has resulted in 5 – 20 X more sales for the author’s title. I bet you’d like some of that action too 😮

So we’re all in agreement: A powerful / high impact cover that screams intrigue and excitement is the way to go. But how do we procure such visual delights at a fair price… without being burned in the process?

With this guide you’ll learn how to sell MORE books by hiring the perfect cover artist for your project. We’ll discuss where to find the artists, essential things to look out for when making a buying decision, and how to have a smooth / pain-free working relationship with your collaborator.

Sounds like win? Read on for the skinny:

First Things First

I should let you guys know why I have a lot to say on this subject…

I’ve produced artwork professionally for 20 years. The bulk of my work has been in the indie sphere, but I’ve also worked for a range of A-Listers / BIG-5 publishing houses too.

I’ve been around the block, and learned through the fire of experience many of the best practices of commissioning book cover art. Whether it was working for Stephen King (what a blast!!), or an indie’s first release – the fundamentals remain largely the same.

Whether you’re a grizzled veteran, or fresh-faced new fish – the principles in this guide will build your confidence when it comes to commissioning book cover art.

The Art That SELLS Books

Before we get the gears moving, let’s take a moment to REALLY think about what sells books. Believe it or not, it’s not just a case of choosing what you think is ‘pretty’ when commissioning cover art. There’s a helluva lot more to it than that…

Selling the Sizzle

My mantra when it comes to putting out ANY kind of genre-product is SELL THE SIZZLE. Think back to the glory days of VHS video stores, when your younger (prettier) self browsed the rows upon rows of seductively packaged titles. The artwork on those covers had a profound impact on your buying decision – especially if you were a horror-hound like me!!

The movie itself could have been absolute TOILET, but with that big badass monster on the cover – what 15 year old could say no to that??

So how does this relate to selling books in the 21st century? The psychology is largely the same when selling books, however the modern buying environment is a LOT more competitive… The aim of the game is to make your customer STOP SCROLLING (on Amazon / FB / Twitter etc.) and whisper:

“Holy S**T, what IS THAT!?”

J Caleb Design Cover Art

J Caleb Design – Selling the DAMN SIZZLE

As an author of genre fiction – you need to SELL THE SIZZLE of your given genre. If you’re writing Horror, feature your monster / antagonist front and centre. If you’re writing Fantasy, play upon the exciting visual motifs of your story (warriors, dragons, creatures etc.)

I like to call these ‘Genre Motifs’, and just like the VHS covers of olde – they get your readers excited by serving them up EXACTLY what they like, on a visual platter of awesomeness.

Now I may be detecting some eye-rolls here, and mutterings of Well duh, captain obvious!! – but over my career, I’ve worked with many clients that miss this fact.

High Concept / Simple Covers

Some authors will want to take a hyper-minimal / high-design approach, when creating book covers. Whilst this can work brilliantly for non-fiction titles, I’d advise against it for genre fiction authors – especially if you’re still in the process of building your name.

Yes, it worked for E.L. James’ Fifty Shades series, or those snazzy Penguin rebrands of popular titles – but for the rest of us, our biggest weapon is still SELLING THE SIZZLE.

fifty shades books

Fanfic Smut, Artfully Packaged

The titans of publishing can get away with it because the author / title has a huge amount of BRAND EQUITY – gained via massive global PR, or because they’re Stephen King. The brand sells the title, and the cover art becomes pretty much secondary to the power of the name.

Regardless of where your own brand equity stands, eye-popping cover art will be your biggest weapon for rising above the noise.

How ‘Accurate’ Should the Cover Art Be?

Now this is the age-old question… When it comes to your cover art, how ACCURATE should it be, in relation to your narrative?

Throughout my career, this particular issue has been the NUMBER ONE CAUSE of poor cover art. I’ve spoken to many of my artist peers in publishing, and the same issue plagues projects across the board. It’s a universal killer of sales.

When you have a choice of being 100% ‘accurate’ to the narrative, or going with something ‘badass’: ALWAYS CHOOSE ‘BADASS’!!

Obviously, you’d want something representative of the story – and your cover artist wants that too… but when you’re drilling them over multiple finnicky details to get it ‘just right’, that can have a seriously detrimental effect on the overall cover. I’ve seen it hundreds of times.

Choose the right cover artist, give them your instructions, and let them run wild!! It’s a delicate balance between getting exactly what you want, and allowing a certain amount of wriggle-room for the project. The more freedom you allow your cover artist, the better your cover art will be. I 100% guarantee it.

Yes, there are caveats to this… you don’t want your cover-art character to be blonde, when in your book the guy has black hair. This point has more to do with your artwork getting incrementally WORSE, as a result of forcing pointless narrative details into the composition, that the customer would never even notice at the thumbnail level.

Give your artist (a fair amount of) freedom. Always choose BADASS over accuracy.

What Makes a Good Cover Artist?

Aside from the fact that your artist produces great artwork and typography, there are other factors at play when working on a collaborative project.

Here are the main attributes a cover artist should have, that will ensure your project goes without a hitch:

1. Communication

The artist should respond to your enquiries in a timely manner. Acceptable is within 24 hours, ideal is within 2 – 5 hours. This keeps the project moving, and stops the creativity from stagnating.

With the above in mind, do take into consideration whether your artist is at the opposite end of the planet – time differences can increase the ‘wait time’ for responses!! Artists gotta sleep too you know.

If you go days without a response, then you have a definite issue.

2. ‘Amiability’

If the artist is polite / courteous / upbeat… that’s going to help the creative process A LOT!! Offering creative services is a ‘people game’, and how your artist treats you will affect the overall project.

Of course, this is a two way street – you’ve got to play nice too – to get the most out of your artist 😉 If you’re a prima donna / douchey, then the artist will be less inclined to give their best – or may stall when replying to your messages.

3. Confidence

Even though your artist may be the nicest guy / gal in the world, they need more than that to give you the cover art you deserve.

The confident artist will (diplomatically) tell you when you’re getting it wrong. The confident artist will tell you why stretching the title to the full width of the book cover isn’t the greatest idea… OR why that photo your cousin took shouldn’t be let anywhere near the cover art!!

Serious cover art pros know how to gently guide the author / publisher into the ‘correct’ direction, using diplomacy and finesse… without tempers rising, or creative friction occuring.

The relationship between client and artist is synergistic, and to work well – requires a certain amount of ‘give and take’.

Choosing Your Cover Artist

With such a low barrier to entry, it’s safe to say it’s pretty much a buyers market out there. We’re blessed to have fiercely talented cover artists across the globe offering their services, at a wide range of budgets.

There are many artists out there who will give you MAJOR bang for your buck, providing a world-class service AND sales results… Unfortunately there are also shysters who view the artform as a quick payday, who operate with less than ideal ethical standards.

Working with these cheapsters can actually result in MAJOR legal troubles for you later down the line, as we explored in our previous post. Don’t be the author that gets burned.

With such a mind-boggling range of options, and a crowded marketplace – where the hell do you start with all this?

Here are some of the top tips to keep in mind when choosing your cover artist:

1. The Artist has been Referred

If you have a buddy that’s successfully worked with a cover artist, and the resulting artwork was awesome – then that’s possibly the best indicator to have that the cover artist is legit.

Ensure their style is the right fit for your genre, and double check they’re working at the budget range you can afford. Ask your colleague how they got on with the artist, and if there were any issues with the creative process.

By doing the above, you could potentially save yourself A LOT of back and forth choosing the right artist for your project!!

Cursed Book Cover by Christian Bentulan

The Filipino Phenom (Christian Bentulan) demonstrates his cover-art prowess…

2. The Artist Has a Branded Website

The first thing you can do to check how serious an artist is, is find out whether they have a branded website. NOT a website with a .WIX or .WORDPRESS subdomain – but a professional website, with a branded domain.

To me, this is the first indicator of how professional a particular artist is. If they’ve taken the time to build the website, and pay out for a personalised domain – that puts them a cut above the rest of the players. The artist has INVESTED in their pursuit, and they know the game is much much bigger than social media promotion alone.

Rebecca Frank Cover Art Website

Rebecca Frank, this gal does it RIGHT

I’ve actually received a fair amount of flak for making this point in interviews previously, but I’m sticking to my guns on this one:

Any cover artist worth their salt has a branded website.

3. The Artist Posts New Art FREQUENTLY

The professional artists who get the JOB DONE are oversubscribed. As a result, they post new artwork online on a regular basis. They’re active and visible – you see them popping up everywhere, sharing quality work with high frequency.

Of course, being in demand means the premium for such artists goes up – however NOT always, as we’ll discover later in this guide…

4. The Artist Has Great Typography / Layout Skills

This game isn’t just pretty art – it’s visual communication.

Book cover art is a beautiful unison of illustration, layout, and typography. It is ABSOLUTELY IMPERATIVE that your cover artist has mastery of both illustration AND graphic design / typography / layout.

The artist must be able to effectively communicate the ‘feel‘ of your story with the illustration, alongside the essential copy (book title, author name, sub-title etc.). All of the elements must work together as cohesive whole, with a sense of balance and unity.

I know MANY awesome digital artists who decided to jump in on the book cover game – but they were sorely lacking in the design / typography department. Visual communication is an artform in itself, and requires AS MUCH (if not more) practice than the artwork itself. It is not to be under-estimated by any stretch.

Of course, there are instances where you can commission an illustrator to produce the artwork – and then hire a talented designer to provide the typography / layout. Absolutely nothing wrong with that, if you have the budget to cover the cost!!

Shawn King STK Creations Cover Art

My favourite genre-fiction designer Shawn King (STK Creations) often provides typography / layout for illustrated covers

Most book cover artists offer an ‘all-in’ solution, providing both the illustration AND typography / layout – so it’s imperative that they are proficient in ALL aspects of the game.

5. You LOVE Their Work

Choosing a cover artist can literally be as simple as seeing an awesome book cover, and contacting the artist (direct through their branded website!!) to find out their rates.

The speed in which the artist gets back to you is also a good indicator of their professionalism and dedication to the craft. This is another reason why I urge Authors / Publishers to work with fulltime cover artists.

6. They’re a ‘Specialist’

You really can’t go wrong when it comes to working with a cover-art specialist in your chosen genre. These artists dedicate their life and soul to a narrow sub-niche, and develop a world-class prowess for creating cover art for a very particular audience.

I used to be a hyper-specialist (horror!!), and loved every minute of it.

You Get What You Pay For

So here we are… the real meat and bones of the guide. How much should I be paying these guys for cover art?

The first major point I’m going to make here, is avoid any cover artist that is BELOW $100 USD. I can already see the various comment sections flare up in rage:

“How DARE you say that I shouldn’t spend less than $100 on cover art!! You don’t know what I have to deal with, I can barely afford to eat!!” (etc.)

Again, I’m going to stand by my (potentially unpopular) point.

Here’s the rub… You spend X-amount of months toiling over your manuscript, undergoing the relevant work to craft something beautiful – then you slap a FUGLY $25 cover onto it, immediately cheapening your product and obliterating any chance you had to make sales. It beggars belief.

If you want to operate within a FIERCELY competitive marketplace (and find success), then you’ve got to pay to play, it’s as simple as that.

The same could be arguably said, for trying to ‘wing it’ – and attempting to design the cover yourself (spoiler alert: NO)

As with any business, you gotta spend a little to make a little. If it means going without lattes for a month, then so be it… nobody ever said it was going to be easy 😉

“But this is just a hobby, I don’t want to spend $100s on cover art!!” – If that’s the case – absolutely fine. Ignore this section if you’re not fussed about sales.

Just because your immediate friends and family say it’s a great cover, doesn’t mean it is so. The litmus test is whether COMPLETE STRANGERS take a short moment out of their day, to comment “Damn, that’s a fine cover!!” Of course, a powerful cover and a great blurb will result in sales also.

There is no greater marker of success, than strangers voting with their dollar.

The next part of this guide is written with the understanding that you’re a professional (or aspiring professional) looking to sell as many books as possible. Let’s take a look at some of the price ranges commonly encountered within the Indie sphere:

$0 – $100 USD

I call this the ‘bargain bucket’ range, and is populated by newbie designers, artists from developing countries, and individuals not fully confident in their abilities.

Ok… there is a possibility that you could find a sub-$100 cover that’s pretty decent out there – but it’s not as likely as finding a vastly superior $100+ cover.

For cripes-sake, go ALL-IN!! Get the absolute best you can afford!! If it means saving up for a while, go ahead and do that. I personally know we’re not all starting on equal footing when it comes to money – just do the best you can, with the hand you’re dealt.

I’d argue anyone within a developed nation could raise $100 USD within 3 months, if they really put their mind to it. This is your dream, make it happen.

If you’re a $0 – $100 artist reading this, and are angered by these comments – up your skillset, and CHARGE MORE. You are in the realm of COMMODOTISATION, where the only thing the client cares about is price. Please read my free guide for digital artists to learn how to up your pricing. As soon as you’re out of this arena, your professional life will IMMEDIATELY improve.

$100 – $250

At this pricing range, cover art gets a little more refined, with the artists demonstrating higher levels of prowess – particularly with typography and layout (which can REALLY make or break the overall cover…)

If you’re on a serious budget or starting out, this domain may be your initial stomping ground. Around the $250 mark you can definitely get something pretty decent… but maybe not the BEST.

$250 – $500

This price range represents the mid-level tier, and the majority of the artists in this arena will be pretty decent. There are a lot of AWESOME artists from developing countries operating at this tier, as well as ‘niche-specialists’ who focus on specific genres.

A large number of my Facebook peers are within this range, and it does seem to be the ‘sweet spot’ for a large number of indie authors.

This may be the price range you operate at, if you have a steady(ish) income from prior book sales – but not enough to fund more extravagant covers.

$500 – $1000

The $500 to $1000 bracket is where things start getting REALLY sleek… If you’re an author that does pretty well with book sales, then this may be the domain where you commission work.

Cover artists that are in very high demand, may command fees between $500 to $1000, as they know there’s a steady stream of clients with cash in hand, ready to pay. Many competent ‘niche-specialists’ also operate at this range.

At this point, part of the price is tied in with the artist’s branding – they’re a proven entity, are highly professional in their operations – and are much more likely to be ‘full-timers’.

$1000 +

At this price point, the artist tends to be globally renowned for their cover art work. They’ve delivered many projects for A-List authors / BIG-5 publishers, or they have an art-style that no-one out there has come close to replicating. This is the opposite of ‘commoditisation’ (that you’ll find at the lower tiers of pricing.)

You’ll find upper-tier natural media illustrators or painters operate at this level, or world-class composite artists and designers.

‘Exclusive’ photo-shoot projects may fall into this category also, where the stock provider / artist shoots exactly what you need, then pulls it all together as a cover art package.

Bastien Lecouffe Deharme artwork

Bastien Lecouffe Deharme, in my opinion a WORLD CLASS illustrator

Places to AVOID

Ok, it’s time for me to start bleating about micro-service, and crowd-talent platforms again…

I personally don’t believe in platforms such as Fiverr, or 99Designs.

You may have had a well-meaning (but fiercely mis-informed) friend advise “Get your cover from Fiverr!!” IGNORE their advice. Possibly remove them from your christmas card list. Fiverr is the cess-pool of creative services, and the chances of not only being burned / but also SUED is much much higher than commissioning services from anywhere else. This is where the chancers and shysters operate.

Why am I so vehemently opposed to this platform? Because the service providers are NOT professionals – more often than not, they steal the resources they need to create the cover art. So not only are you starting on the wrong foot by having sub-standard cover art, but you’re also liable for litigation if the IP owners catch the breach and decide to pursue for damages.

As this is is such a major issue with ‘cheap’ cover art, I wrote an entire article on it.

99Designs is another platform I’d avoid… not so much because the work on there is no good, but because the business model isn’t ethical. Artists ‘compete’ by submitting artworks to commission briefs. If they’re unsuccessful in their bids, they don’t get paid at all. There ARE options for commissioning a single artist direct, but 99Designs still take their cut – pushing the price up. Nope, I don’t like it.

I’m not going to be too mean to 99Designs, as I know a couple of GREAT cover artists who got their start there – but I don’t approve of the platform at all. As with Fiverr, there are also multiple issues of IP theft on there also. As there are SO MANY great artists outside of these arenas, there really isn’t any reason to support them.

If your ethos is just to buy as cheap as humanly possible, you will be burned badly in every respect.

The Cover Art Process

Now I don’t profess to knowing how EVERY cover artist operates, as every individual will have their own systems for working with clients… From what I’ve gathered across the board however, the following blueprint is a pretty accurate example of a typical workflow.

One thing to keep in mind, before you start – is to view the artist’s portfolio, and be aware of the limitations of their skillset. Understand that what you get, will probably be similar to what they’ve done before.

In this section of the guide we’ll examine an example process that artists and clients go through – to get a projected completed, from start to finish:

1. Introduction / Deposit

Once you’ve made the introductions with your cover artist, and you have an agreed budget in place – in most instances you’d put down a deposit to secure your slot / get work underway (although not always, every artist is different.)

When I was producing cover art, there was a 50% deposit before we moved to the next phase (consultation). For some artists it may be 25% or some other figure.

At this point, it’s worth finding out what your artist’s preferred payment is, and whether you can accomodate it. More often than not it will be Paypal, but it’s worth asking anyway!!

2. Consultation

At this stage of the project, you discuss with your artist the kind of artwork you’d like for your cover. This is an incredibly important stage of the process, the better your artist is at understanding / interpreting your instructions, the better the final work will be.

You can help by highlighting existing covers that you like “I want something like THAT” – or by sharing a Pinterest Board / Moodboard showing the ‘vibe’ or tone you’d like for your project. Many artists are highly visual in nature (go figure!!), so sometimes images work better than words to convey what you’d like:

Dark Fantasy Warriors Moodboard

Over the years I’ve produced hundreds of moodboards, as part of my cover art services…

You can cherry-pick / mix and match various elements from other covers, be it aesthetics / content / typography style – to create something  new, unique and representative of your story.

If your artist is creating cover art using photographic resources (compositing / photomanipulation), then this may be the stage that the artist gives you suggestions for WHICH stock photo elements could be used for the project.

If you can both be in agreement as to what elements will be used for the cover, before the serious heavy-lifting takes place, then that can save a LOT of heartache down the road – for BOTH parties!!

3. Rough Mockups

Once the consultation is complete, the artist goes forth and beavers away with your shiny new cover art.

Some artists may pull together a ‘rough’ or ‘first draft’ version for you to check that they’re on the right track. This could be as simple as a crude placement of elements, or thumbnail sketches. The work at this stage will be un-polished and not indicative of the final art.

4. First Draft

At this stage, the artist may present to you the ‘First Draft’ – an ALMOST finished cover, but not quite there yet. The artist will ask you for feedback, and any possible tweaks or amendments that you’d like made to the cover art.

There may be typographical placement also, to show how the illustration sits with the title / author name etc.

5. Revisions

After feedback from the first draft, the artist goes through a series of revisions, as per your instructions…

This is a delicate phase of the project, where creative tensions / disagreements may flare up. Part of the friction may be the artist’s frustration that they’re unable to articulate EXACTLY what you want… or requests are being made that are beyond the remit of the artist’s skillset.

Unfortunately there are instances where clients demand a Marvel / Disney level of production value, but for a grand project budget of $75 bucks. Please don’t be that guy 🙂

client budget client expectation

Please don’t be that guy…

Fortunately, most issues can be resolved amicably!! Through a process of tweaking, and improving, your artist can incrementally amend the cover so it matches what you had in mind.

NOTE: Some cover artists may have a ‘Revision Fee’ system in place, to ensure the revision process isn’t abused by indecisive clients. There may be ‘X’ amount of free revisions, with all amendments thereafter being charged at a specified rate.

6. Final Draft

This is the beautiful stage, where artist and client are in agreement that the cover art is finished.

The artist may put together the ‘full wrap’ (book cover template, for printed copies), Audible cover, or marketing materials at this stage also.

You’re happy, they’re happy. Everyone’s happy!! (I hope…)

7. Payment / Finish

With the project complete, you pay the artist using their preferred payment method.

With payment received, the artist releases all the files (eg. Kindle Cover, Audible Cover, Full Wrap layout) – and you can move forward with the TRULY difficult part of your release. The marketing!!

Let the artist know whether it’s ok to share the work on their social platforms / websites, or whether you’d like them to hold-off for a while if you want to keep the artwork fresh for a specifically timed release. As professionals, they’ll understand!!

Closing Notes

Now THAT was pretty hefty for a blog post, I appreciate you tuning in!!

It’s my aim to save both you and your artist a lot of creative heartache with this guide, and to give your release the best possible head-start when it comes to making sales.

The greatest cover-artists out there, KNOW that this is the book-selling business, and not the personal-ego business – and will have your best interests at heart. It’s a tough market out there, but fortune favours the brave 😉

All the best with your literary adventures!!

Dean

 

About the Author:

Dean Samed is a professional cover artist, and Photoshop instructor.

He now dedicates his fulltime attention to producing ‘the best goddamn stock photography on the planet!!

 

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The Indie Author’s Guide to Stock Photography

Earn With Your Art – An Insiders Guide Part 1

The Indie Author’s Guide to Stock Photography

If you’re writing / releasing a book, there’s a very high chance your cover art will use stock photography. Just take a look at any Fiction best-seller list, and you’ll notice that 85% or more of the covers use stock photos, or ‘composite artworks’ built up using mutliple  stock elements.

Commissioning graphic designers / composite artists is a great way to score a high-impact cover on a budget, but it’s not without its pitfalls!! Unfortunately there are dodgy designers out there who ignore global intellectual property laws, or outright steal what they need to make a quick buck.

The net result of being in breach of copyright can be catastrophic, as the author YOU’D be liable for the designer’s malpractice – and could result in serious legal trouble!!

Fear not dear friends… This guide will give you (the author) a quick headsup on what to look out for, and bring to light some of the stock photography legalities to watch out for.

First things first…

I have to fess up and tell you that I’m not a lawyer – and I don’t pretend to be one on the internet. I’m a professional cover artist with 20 years experience in the trenches, AND the owner of a stock photography platform – so I know a thing or two about a thing or two in this arena.

HOWEVER, what I say here isn’t legal advice – so if you’re really worried – please do consult with a professional!!

The information in this guide is a basic layman’s overview of stock photography, and the common pitfalls that are faced by authors and publishers…

Pop Culture IP

We’ll start with an easy one… If your designer incorporates ANY intellectual property owned by any company or individual that ISN’T licensed for stock photography useage, that’s a big no-no.

What does that mean exactly?

Here’s an example. This ‘stock photo’ is available on Pixabay (a free stock photo website) – it’s a Halo Elite monster toy, and the IP belongs to Microsoft Studios.

IF your artist uses the above image in a composite for your book cover, and Microsoft catch wind of it… you could have the legal might of a Fortune 100 company descending upon you!! Scary stuff…

Many of these titans are incredibly litigous (Disney, Games Workshop et al), so it’s really not worth the grief using any licensed IP on your cover art.

If you recognise ANY element that is from pop culture, video games, film, tv etc. it’s got to go.

Online Artist’s IP

Now this one is tricky, because you may not recognise elements that could have been stolen from artists who share their work online.

This could be digitally painted background elements, or frankensteined parts of unlicensed photographs – as the client, it’s pretty much impossible to know if this kind of breach has taken place.

Fortunately this kind of occurence is VERY rare in the professional sphere – but it does happen occassionally…

The best thing to do to protect yourself in this instance, is ensure that you’re working with a PROFESSIONAL (preferably fulltime) artist. AVOID websites like 99Designs and Fiverr – which is where the vast majority of unscrupulous designers operate.

Whilst you’ll never be fully safe, this due vigilance will go a LONG WAY to protect you in the long run. I don’t want you to become a nervous nellie over this, it’s a one in a thousand occurence!!

Another thing to watch out for, is recognisable clothing brands, logos, and any other trademark / IP that belongs to a third party.

What Resources CAN My Artists Use??

One of the main things you can do to ensure your artist is walking the righteous path – is gently enquire where they sourced their stock images (particularly relevant for more recognisable figurative images.)

Here’s a rundown of some of the reputable stock vendors where your artist may source their images:

Major Microstock Websites

Major Microstock websites such as Adobe Stock, Depositphotos, Shutterstock etc. have checks and balances in place, to ensure the legality of the uploaded content is above board.

Submitted images are examined by professional moderators who have to approve what’s being uploaded. Whilst you are largely safe with resources from the major microstock sites, there’s still the issue of straying into content that is SIMILAR to existing properties.

Take this catwoman picture for instance – whilst it’s legally safe to be included on their stock photography library, it’s possible you could run into issues using it on your book cover as it’s TOO similar to the Catwoman IP owned by DC / Warner Brothers:

Avoid any Pop Culture IP, and you’re onto a winner.

Stock Photography Agencies

Stock Photography agencies such as Getty Images, Alamy, and the smaller platforms such as Trevillion and Arcangel are all reputable vendors – who operate similar vetting of their content as the Microstock Websites.

These agencies represent the premium end of the cover-art scale, and are rarely used by artists in the Indie Publishing sphere (the majority of cover artists using the major Microstock, and Boutique stock sites…)

There are often different licensing options with these sites, with a focus on ‘Rights Managed’ and ‘Exclusive’ licenses – but that’s an article for another day!!

Boutique Stock Photography Sites

Boutique Stock Photography sites are platforms operated by small companies, or individuals (usually niche focused on book cover art) – NeoStock and Period Images being two examples.

Whilst these plucky contenders don’t have the legal heft of the titans, their content is crafted with care – and the owners are (usually) hyper-aware of what / what isn’t permitted when it comes to book cover stock photography.

They’re heavily invested in the publishing world, and live / breathe cover art 24/7!!

Alas, there can still be issues in this arena. With many fly-by-night operations popping up, due vigilance is still worthwhile. Are there any recognisable brands in the image? Is the image just a cosplay of an existing property?

Medieval Assassin starring Liepa (by NeoStock)… Looks safe to me!!

Social Art Stock Providers

Major social art platforms such as DeviantArt have individual stock providers who offer stock photography via their profiles – including stock artists such as Faestock, Elandria, and PhelanDavion.

These artist put out A LOT of free content into the public domain… These resources are free to use for personal or practice projects – HOWEVER, for commercial / professional useage, they all have their own licensing fees and terms that need to be adhered to!!

Each provider is different, so you’ll need to communicate with them directly to ensure you have the correct license for your project.

Faestock is a Social Art stock provider who also has a presence on the Microstock platforms – so that can make the transaction / licensing MUCH more straightforward for you!!

Danger Zones

Here’s a small checklist of sites / platforms that have the potential for causing you issues:

Google Images

First and foremost – ANYTHING sourced from Google Images is out of the question. If you have a designer / artist say “I grabbed it from Google Images“, that’s the biggest red flag possible – and you need to stop working with them. Immediately.

Google Images is NOT a stock photography platform. Rolling like that will land you in trouble… BIIIGGG trouble!!

Free Stock Websites

Things can get a little hairy when using Free Stock Photography websites, such as Pixabay (a regular offender), or Pexels etc.

These platforms can be particularly problematic when it comes to licensed IP, as the site uploads don’t undergo the same vetting process as the Microstock platforms.

Issues are usually encountered with ‘figurative’ (photos of people) stocks, as opposed to smaller elements such as backgrounds, or textures. Photos of people is usually where the trouble usually lies…

If your designer / artist is getting their figurative images from (reputable) Microstock / Agencies / Boutiques, you’ll be fine. Don’t skimp when it comes to figurative stocks!!

Social Art Websites

If the designer / artist grabs stock resources from DeviantArt, and doesn’t comply with the stock provider’s licensing terms, then that can come back and bite you.

Ensure the stock is properly licensed, by communicating with the vendor direct. Their terms are usually very reasonable!!

99Designs / Fiverr

Avoid these platforms. There’s too many charlatans operating here, who really don’t care about the implications of IP / copyright law – OR the implications it has on you, the author.

Whilst I know MANY great artists who got their start on these platforms – as a professional I’d highly advise you avoid 99Designs / Fiverr (or any other micro-service / crowdtalent platform) like the plague.

Side-step that arena, and just commission someone direct via their website, or LinkedIn / Facebook. Save yourself the heartache, and paying some third party a cut for nothing.

Closing Notes

My goal here isn’t to terrify you into submission, with nightmares of litigation and woe… this is merely a heads-up on how you can work with your cover artist, to ensure all of your stock resources are above board!!

By adhering to the above, you can most definitely score world-class cover art that is both affordable AND legal.

All the best with your literary adventures!!

Dean

 

About the Author:

Dean Samed is a professional cover artist, and Photoshop instructor.

He now dedicates his fulltime attention to producing ‘the best goddamn stock photography on the planet!!

 

You May Also Enjoy:

The Indie Author’s Guide to Hiring a Cover Artist

Earn With Your Art – An Insiders Guide Part 1

 

Shoot 18 — Tim Post Apoc Stock Photography

Post Apoc week, day 6. Last but not least in this series, we have our ‘Doomsday Prepper’ concept, starring Tim!! He’s been preparing 20 years for this scenario, but will it be enough??

Here’s a look at some of the stock photos we got from this set:

NeoStock - Tim Post Apoc I - Stock Photography

Shoot to Kill

NeoStock - Tim Post Apoc II - Stock Photography

Patrol Duty

NeoStock - Tim Post Apoc III - Stock Photography

Dramatic Three Quarter

NeoStock - Tim Post Apoc IV - Stock Photography

Poised for Battle

NeoStock - Tim Post Apoc V - Stock Photography

Resting with Machete

View the full gallery for this set at:

Tim Post Apocalyptic Stock Photography Gallery

There’s one more Post-Apoc set to be uploaded to our galleries, which features the awesome couple and group images we captured!! More info on that set landing soon.

To stay up to date / have a say in what we create, come jump onboard at our NeoStock Focus Group.

Shoot 018 Credits:

Photography: Tom Parsons, Hair & Makeup by Suzanna Forrister-Beer (Makeupps by Suzanna), Model: Timothy Davies. Shot at Fire Eye Land studios, Margate.

— Team NeoStock

Shoot 18 — Richie Post Apoc Stock Photography

Post Apoc week, Day 5… Here we have Richie, starring as our ‘Everyman’ survivor – just a regular joe, trying to succeed against impossible odds!!

Here’s a look at some of the stock photo shots we got from the set:

NeoStock - Richie Post Apoc V - Stock Photography

Zombie Slayer

NeoStock - Richie Post Apoc IV - Stock Photography

Dynamic Walking

NeoStock - Richie Post Apoc III - Stock Photography

Standing Guard

NeoStock - Richie Post Apoc II - Stock Photography

Dramatic Behind Shot

NeoStock - Richie Post Apoc V - Stock Photography

A Moments Rest

View the full gallery for this set at:

Richie Post Apocalyptic Stock Photography Gallery

Keep your eyes peeled for our next Post Apoc stock set, starring Tim as our ‘Doomsday Prepper’!!

To stay up to date / have a say in what we create, come jump onboard at our NeoStock Focus Group.

Shoot 018 Credits:

Photography: Tom Parsons, Hair & Makeup by Suzanna Forrister-Beer (Makeupps by Suzanna), Model: DJ Richie Cee. Shot at Fire Eye Land studios, Margate.

— Team NeoStock

Shoot 18 — Regis Post Apoc Stock Photography

It’s Day 4 of Post Apoc week, and this time Regis is representing, as our ‘Grizzled Veteran’ survivor… This man has seen hell before, and he’s ready to kick ass once again!! 😀

Here’s a look at some of the shots from the set:

NeoStock - Regis Post Apoc V - Stock Photography

Walking with Intent

NeoStock - Regis Post Apoc IV - Stock Photography

Maximum Drama

NeoStock - Regis Post Apoc III - Stock Photography

A Moments Rest

NeoStock - Regis Post Apoc II - Stock Photography

Battle Axe

NeoStock - Regis Post Apoc I - Stock Photography

Man on Fire

View the full gallery for this set at:

Regis Post Apocalyptic Stock Photography Gallery

We’ve got LOTS more Post Apoc stocks rolling in, with our next concept being ‘Everyman Hero’, starring Richie…

To stay up to date / have a say in what we create, come jump onboard at our NeoStock Focus Group.

Shoot 018 Credits:

Photography: Tom Parsons, Hair & Makeup by Suzanna Forrister-Beer (Makeupps by Suzanna), Model: Regis Stafford. Shot at Fire Eye Land studios, Margate.

— Team NeoStock

Shoot 18 — Mandy Post Apoc Stock Photography

Day 3 of Post-Apocalyptic week, and today we’re introducing Mandy as ‘Recon Girl’… Shooting on an infinity wall = DYNAMIC ACTION!!

A truly exciting concept, here’s a look at some of the images from the set:

NeoStock - Mandy Post Apoc V - Stock Photography

Ready for Battle

NeoStock - Mandy Post Apoc IV - Stock Photography

Patrol

NeoStock - Mandy Post Apoc III - Stock Photography

Surveying the Horizon

NeoStock - Mandy Post Apoc II - Stock Photography

Taking Stock

NeoStock - Mandy Post Apoc I - Stock Photography

Splatterfest Bat Time

View the full gallery for this set at:

Mandy Post Apocalyptic Stock Photography Gallery

The next concept landing for Post Apoc, will be ‘Grizzled Veteran’, starring Regis…

To stay up to date / have a say in what we create, come jump onboard at our NeoStock Focus Group.

Shoot 018 Credits:

Photography: Tom Parsons, Hair & Makeup by Suzanna Forrister-Beer (Makeupps by Suzanna), Model: Mandy Horsefield. Shot at Fire Eye Land studios, Margate.

— Team NeoStock