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Old 11-12-2010, 09:22 PM   #1
sylvernight
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E-Book Cover Questions

I am new to this board, so I hope I'm posting this in the correct place.

I am just getting started in E-Book publishing, and I understand the importance of a good cover. My question is about licensing--if you buy a cover from an artist for a book that you intend to make money from, do you need some sort of legal agreement with said artist? How do you ensure that the cover you purchased is *yours*?

I've seen some really professional-looking covers, so I'm hoping some of you have already gone through this process. I tried googling this question, but all I get are ads for companies that want to sell me book covers, and I already have an artist I'd like to use, I just want to make sure it's done properly.

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Old 11-12-2010, 09:37 PM   #2
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If you pay an artist to create your cover, the assumption is that the artist has the rights to the image(s) used. Also, the artist then grants to you the right to use the final cover image in promotion of your book. Et cetera and legalese.

You may not end up "owning" anything, only with the right to use the image.

For my cover for The Summoning Fire (my avatar) there is an original painting, "End of Days", which was painted specifically for the cover. *BUT* I don't own that image[*], the artist does. I have the right to use the cover the artist created with the image in promotion of the book, including as the ebook cover. But that's it. For example, I can't suddenly start making prints of the painting without the artist's permission. But I *could* make poster prints of the cover, because then it's promotion of the book.

It's simpler than it sounds, but you do need to be aware of what you have rights for, and want you don't.

-David
[*] Yet. I will own that canvas eventually.
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Old 11-12-2010, 09:57 PM   #3
sylvernight
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Lol, David--I'm not allowed to spend much time on Etsy, 'cause I'd buy everything in site...

But back to my question--I definitely don't want to make prints of the artwork, unless, as you said, those prints have my book title etc on them, and are used for promotional purposes.

I'm just wondering if I'm missing something on the whole process: I purchase book cover art, I *automatically* have the rights to use it in my book, or in book promotions?

Maybe I'm just jumping to conclusions here, but what's to stop the artist from claiming later that he/she didn't sell me that right? Does anybody use any sort of legal agreement with their artist or illustrator?
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Old 11-13-2010, 12:03 AM   #4
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That's a good question. I see your point, imagine you sell like a hundred thousand eBooks with a cover you paid $100 for. Now your artist wants more money because you made more impressions than he thought he made or whatever.

I'd hope people wouldn't be like that, but people are. I've never commissioned art, but i was browsing deviant art today and seriously considering some of the 150- paintings...My best advice would be, if you communicate via email have everything date/time stamped and save copies everywhere.
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Old 11-13-2010, 01:31 AM   #5
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What you want is to make sure the cover is a "work for hire". The artist gets paid and that's the end of that. That's going to specified in the contract.

No, I'm not a lawyer, but none of this is particularly complicated. You can find standard creative work for hire contract boilerplate about the web. I like Nolo (nolo.com), but there are other options.

-David
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Old 11-13-2010, 06:37 AM   #6
sylvernight
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Thanks, David! That's the info I was looking for.
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Old 11-14-2010, 01:03 AM   #7
crich70
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Gimp can be very useful in making up a possible cover using stock photos from a site like Stock Exchange http://www.sxc.hu/ The best part of Gimp is that it's free unlike programs like PhotoShop.
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Old 11-14-2010, 10:30 AM   #8
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Legally, you have to be VERY careful with cover art. Definitely get into a legal agreement with the book cover creator that outlines its use.

Also, you have to be careful of any stock images the cover designer uses on your cover, as just about all stock images your purchase online come with a usage license and strings attached. So, it’s always a good idea that you personally buy any stock images that are going to be used on your cover and make sure you read the license before you buy them.

Last edited by bookmark; 12-07-2010 at 01:56 PM.
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Old 11-21-2010, 04:24 PM   #9
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I'm new to self-publishing as well (I already posted an intro on the newbie forum) and I'm frustrated about covers. I'm still confused, even after reading these posts.

I used to be an accountant at an ad agency where we constantly purchased from iStock and other websites. I know that the rights to the images actually belonged to our clients, because the images were used in their promotional material and we passed our cost through to them.

I know I probably shouldn't be freaking out about it so much, but I'm really afraid to buy a stock photo and edit it for my own use. But I need to do something! I don't want to pay someone to do it for me. I know a lot about graphic design. I'm extremely frustrated because I'd like to move to Smashwords Premium. Can't do it without a freakin' cover. It's not even about making money. I just started writing recently and I'm shocked at how much I love it. I've had a lot of downloads in a short period of time. I want to move to premium!!!

Anyway, back to my original thought - I need a cover.

I'm going to go ahead and buy an image and start editing it. I'm not sure I'll upload it though. I'm afraid. I'm very familiar with licensing agreements, and they frighten me.

Thanks,
Shaina
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Old 11-22-2010, 08:43 AM   #10
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Here's the artist that Joe Konrath uses: http://extendedimagery.blogspot.com/ In his FAQ, he writes, Once you buy a cover from me, you own all the rights to the image, and can do whatever you'd like with it.

For Venom, I hired an artist listed on deviant-art.com and we agreed upon the usage rights. She gets to use it to promote her artwork, I get to use it to promote my book -- everyone's happy!

For Kinshield, I used another writer, Ronnell D. Porter. http://www.wix.com/ronnelldporter/design - He does covers for $50.

Last edited by kcmay; 11-22-2010 at 08:47 AM.
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Old 11-22-2010, 11:39 AM   #11
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There are many websites that offer you royalty-free images for very low prices. (Search public domain images.) I'm going to buy one for $35.00 and then create my own ebook cover, then convert it to a jpeg.

Randy
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Old 11-22-2010, 12:58 PM   #12
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Thanks for all the great feedback.

kcmay - I will bookmark the websites you shared and save them for when I think I might actually be able to sell some books and make my money back. I'm pretty sure my writing kinda sucks right now.... Very valuable resources though - thank you!

randyflycaster - the problem with royalty-free images, for me, is that my books are erotica. iStock specifically says that with both Standard and Extended licenses, their images are prohibited from appearing in pornography. So, it's probably a gray area but for now I need to err on the side of caution. It stinks though, because I have a lightbox there filled with tons of great photos that would be perfect.

I created my own images for Smashwords, and yes, they're horrible. Really, really horrible. But at least they're from pictures of myself that I already owned, so I know I can do whatever I want with them.

Shaina
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Old 12-07-2010, 03:14 AM   #13
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Just a thought ... go have a look at the "Artistic nude" section over at www.deviantart.com ... there's a lot of photographers showing off there work there, I bet more than a few of them would be happy to let you use there images in return for credits in your book.
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Old 12-08-2010, 07:20 AM   #14
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i've had a lot of graphics work done by people who didn't have the rights to the images they used. now i tend to either choose the images myself and supply them or tell the designer what graphics sites he can choose them on, and then i go license the images myself.

either that or i shoot the pics myself if i don't go to istockphoto.

btw, Shaina - i believe (and i could be wrong) that you can use illustrations from istock for erotica. if you want the names of some producers that supply royalty free images to the adult industry, pm me and i'll send you a few places. not all allow print, but some do.

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Old 12-08-2010, 09:58 AM   #15
John Carroll
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crich70 View Post
Gimp can be very useful in making up a possible cover using stock photos from a site like Stock Exchange http://www.sxc.hu/ The best part of Gimp is that it's free unlike programs like PhotoShop.
I used GIMP to make my cover too. You can also get photos from Wiki Commons. There are a lot of tutorials on youtube that show how to do lettering, merging and numerous other techniques.

I just don't have any money, so I couldn't afford to have someone else do it. It took me 8 hours to make a nice cover. I spent another 8 doing variations and deciding which one I like best. I think it came out okay for an amateur.

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