On why you might want to research that stock photo
Hi-dee-ho, neighborinos! So today I want to take a break from the usual whining about book progress, and talk a little bit about the more superficial side of book publishing. No, literally, the superficial. As in, existing or occurring at or on the surface. Yep, I’m talkin’ ’bout covers.
Now, I’m very fortunate to have someone in my life who is both a friend and a faaaabulous graphic designer, with an aesthetic that matches my own almost perfectly. My girl Cassie from Back to Her Roots did the cover design for Terra, and I’ve heard pretty much nothing but positive feedback about it.
I mean, it’s not a bad thing to model your cover after things that people like. And this certainly isn’t a singularly unique cover, since, yes there are about eleventy billion young adult covers that feature a girl on the cover in some capacity. Maybe she’s in a prom dress, maybe it’s a close-up of her beautiful modelly face, or maybe part of her face is cut off, like Terra’s. But I haven’t seen a ton of covers that follow the kind of “divided into thirds” thing that this one has going on, with the awesome textures that are both beautiful AND story-relevant. And even if everything else were essentially the same as other covers, I know that I can feel confident that no other book will ever be able to completely replicate my own. And that is because of the cover model herself.
Some of you may already know this, but my brother is actually a professional photographer. Not only that, but his fiancee (my future sister-in-law) both shoots with him, and models for him. So when it came time to decide who to put on the cover of my book, I had it pretty easy. I didn’t need to scour the interwebs for a stock model in the right pose or with the right hair color or what have you. I was able to get a photo that was not only free (heh), but I knew would not be replicated on another cover… EVER.
See, it’s recently become starkly apparent to me just how many of the same stock photos get circulated around the book cover world. And while that’s not necessarily a bad thing–people like what they like, and if they liked a model couple on one cover, it stands to reason they might like them on another–it certainly doesn’t do anything to help you distinguish your book from the rest. This is why, if you are using or planning on using stock photos of models for your book cover, I urge you just to do a little research beforehand. Otherwise you run the risk of turning a potential reader away because they’ve seen it all before.
Still need convincing? Not to fear, I brought examples!
With my last example, I actually can’t find the second work that I recently saw which features this same fierce warrior chick, but I KNOW it exists. Anybody know of the book I’m looking for? For a while it was showing up in the “Customers also bought this…” list on Terra’s Amazon page, but it isn’t there anymore. Regardless, the covers are almost identical, mainly because the model is so distinctive. Even though I remember her being is in a different pose on the second cover, I definitely thought that the two books were part of the same series until saw they had different authors (the titles are also somewhat reflective of each other, if I remember correctly).
I think the examples pretty much speak for themselves. I just think that, especially for self-published authors, who already have a hard enough time getting readers to take our books as seriously as “real” books, we owe it to ourselves to do the appropriate research before putting our blood, sweat, and tears (or our money, for someone else’s bloo, sweat, and tears) into our cover deigns. I do know how hard it is to find the balance between appealing to what people want to see, without copying what’s already out there too closely, but I also know that people absolutely, 100% judge books by their cover.
So, on that happy note, happy cover designing!