Monday, July 1, 2013

Stock Images: The Pros and Cons

Hi all!

This is yet another "It has come to my attention" blog posts.  These posts have received a great deal of positive feedback in helping the author community.

Well, it has come to my attention that many authors are not well informed when it comes to stock images.  Stock images are any image that is purchased on royalty-free sites such as Dreamstime or purchased directly from model stock sites such as romancenovelcovers.com or thereedfiles.com

Now that you know what a stock image is, let me tell you the pros and cons when purchasing a stock image.  I will explain the "Pros" first and the "Cons" second.

Pros:
1)  The image is inexpensive.  Stock images range from $2.00 to $50.00 depending on the stock site.  If you're an Indie author or just beginning, this will help financially.
2) The image can be easily manipulated by a cover artist.  Please, do not change the image yourself and add fonts from MS Word.  That is not a cover.
3) A stock image is royalty-free which means you only pay for it once but you can use it on your covers, banners, etc without having to continually pay the model, photographer, etc.

Cons:
1)  A stock image is inexpensive because the photographer, model, etc makes up the cost by selling it more than once.  This means someone else will have the same image on their cover, etc.  Sometimes, the stock image looks similar to another cover.
2)  You do not OWN the stock image.  You simply have the RIGHT to place it on your cover, etc.  You cannot accuse an artist of stealing the image when they have placed it on a cover.  After all, it does not belong to you.  I have seen this a few times this past year.  I have been accused of stealing my own designs because I used stock images.  This is simply untrue and insulting.
3) I cannot stress this enough, you will see the image on other covers.  When it comes to certain images, there is only so much an artist can do to change the image.  Eventually, you will run across a cover that greatly resembles your own.  The only way you can keep this from happening is to purchase exclusive rights to an image.  Purchasing exclusive rights can be expensive.  The prices start at $250 and increase from there.

The reasons an artist can charge such low prices for a custom cover is because the artist has purchased the stock images.  If you want an exclusive custom cover without stock images, the price of your cover, including the exclusive image purchased, can start at $400 and increase from there.  Any cover less than that price will be similar to others because of the stock images.  This is why Harlequin covers never look like others--they have their own photographers and artists to either photograph new images or paint new ones.  Harlequin, and presses like them, spend great amounts of money for unique covers.

Now, that doesn't mean you won't receive a unique cover that was created with stock images--it simply means you might see those images on another cover.  Whatever you do, please do not stress out.  Remember, the stock image used is not owned by you or the artist unless you have purchased exclusive rights to it.

Here are some examples of the same stock image used, just placed on a different background.


As you can see, the models are the same but the rest is not.  Sometimes, there will even be similar set ups, but the cover is not being stolen or the design is not being copied.  As aforementioned, there are only so many ways to change a stock image.  And yet, both covers are stunning and will grab a reader's attention.  After all, that is what you want--to sell books! :-)

As a side note, neither author on the example covers has ever complained.  They're great! :-)

I hope this post has been informative and if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask!  Email me at edameronhill at gmail dot com

Thank you!