Wait, WHERE did that Image Come From?
(A Cautionary Tale for Indie Authors!)
by NYT & USAT bestselling author Shoshanna Evers
writing as Shoshanna Gabriel
Gather ‘round, fellow indie authors — I have a cautionary tale to tell… about why you should never use a “public domain“ photo featuring a person’s face for your book cover. It can cause a book to be taken down off of Amazon, or even for you to be sued by the people whose picture you used! It happened to me years ago… except I was the person whose photo was used.
Some scammy author (I say he was scammy because he was, in fact, taking other authors’ books, putting it through Google Translate to another language, then back into English again to change the words just enough, and then uploading it as his own work!) AND he also took my photo from Wikipedia and used it, unchanged, as his book cover photo for a romance novel. This was when I was writing books as Shoshanna Evers, and some people accidentally bought the book, thinking it had something to do with me. He got peppered with 1 star reviews from fans of mine who were angry he was using my photo, and within days he was banned from Amazon completely.
In another case, an author used a pic of a beautiful young couple kissing as her cover photo. She found it on a public domain site, but this photo was actually some poor couple’s engagement photo, and they were horrified their likeness was being used in a commercial endeavor. I can’t recall everything that happened other than that the author got skewered in the media for the offense, and the book with that cover was taken down.
Point is, when you buy a cover featuring a photograph, you better know where that image came from. That’s why at SelfPubBookCovers we have a 22-point checklist for book cover quality and image licensing, to vet every cover that makes it onto our site. We’ve had to reject thousands of covers…and it’s possible those covers that an artist couldn’t upload to our site, ended up on someone else’s cover site…or sold directly to an author who wouldn’t know what to look for.
In fact, if our artists are going to use a stock photo (which is what most artists use instead of original exclusive photography), at SPBC we ALSO require a *minimum of two* licensed stock photos to be used per cover, so no one ends up with a “clone cover” that looks exactly like other covers made of solely one same stock image.
It takes a lot of hard work to vet tens of thousands of book covers, but it provides the very best experience for the authors and publishers who find their covers on SelfPubBookCovers.com. Our Quality Assurance (QA) policy is intense, created to give our authors the best, and to assist our artists in providing only the best. Our company policies for public domain image use are even more stringent than what’s required.
But the best thing is, every single cover on our site is not only vetted by a team of vetters who follow our 22-point checklist, if a cover makes it through that, it has to be personally approved by our Creative Director for overall high-quality. Every. Single. Cover.
That’s my cautionary tale and my solution… be wary of where you get your covers. You don’t want to end up on the wrong side of battle over the rights to use someone’s photo!
Have a great week, and happy writing (and cover-hunting)! Ready to see what your book’s title and your author-name look like on a professional, one-of-a-kind, fully vetted book cover? Go to SelfPubBookCovers.com and have fun customizing covers for free! When you find the perfect cover for your book, get it while you can…because once a cover is sold, it is NEVER SOLD AGAIN!