Saturday, May 14, 2011

Fotolia for Cover Art

Spooky Haunted House
Recently I received an email from a lovely lady at  She wanted to know if I'd be interested in a free trial subscription to Fotolia so I could blog about it here.  After I spent a moment doing my happy dance, I responded with a polite yes.

See, one of the most troublesome aspects of Indie Writerhood is that we have to do it all ourselves or hire out for it.  And while many of us can master basic programming, how to format our novels for digital and print publication, and social networking, most of us are not visual artists.  We may have an idea of what we want our covers to look like, but we rarely have the skills to make that image come to life.

But there are wonderful places, like Fotolia, online that sell something called stock photos.  And stock photos makes life a lot easier for the Indie writer.  We no longer have to become master artists or photographers.  We can buy images and either using what talent we currently have, or hiring out for someone who knows graphic design, get a good cover.

Bond, Jane Bond
Fotolia works on two different options, you can buy credits (I'm not sure why you buy credits instead of paying straight off the bat, but, well, I don't really need to understand either.) or you can buy a subscription.   For most Indies looking at setting up maybe one or two covers at a time, I'd say the credit plan is probably your best bet.  If you're looking at producing a lot of covers, either as a cover artist yourself, or because you've got a ton of work that you want to get ready for publication, the subscription plan may be a better deal.  (And by a lot, I mean you need more than $200 worth of art in a one month period.)  When you use credits a standard sized image (about what you'll want for a straight electronic copy) runs a few dollars.  For a large image (what you'd probably want for a physical book cover) prices generally seemed to run from ten to fifteen dollars. 

Fairy Forest
Besides the change in size, what does that money buy you?  The standard license gives you the right to make derivative works (mess around with the image, take a bit from this picture here, a bit from that one there, and put them together) for all print and electronic media.  You can't resell the original.  You can't give it to your buddies.  If you want to upgrade your license and spend a bit more than $100 for the image, you can use the image for goods for resale.  So if you want to go on a major marketing campaign with your cover art, use it on t-shirts, mugs, refrigerator magnets, then you'll need the upgrade.  If you just want a book cover and images for your website, the standard license will do. 
The White Queen

How about selection?  Well, as you can see from just these samples, they've got a wide array of styles and themes.  (And these are the merest tip of the iceberg of pictures I liked.)  There are millions of them on the site.  I tried all sorts of off the wall search queries, and the only thing that didn't bring up any hits was "Scottish Laird."  (Though Highlander turned up over 100 results.) 

So, if you've got a complicated image in your mind.  Like say a male, red-haired, light-blue skinned elf with a celtic knot in ivy vines down his left arm, they probably don't have it.  But you'd also probably be amazed at how close you can get.  The White Queen looks a lot like one of my main characters.  Crop the image properly and she's dead on.  And if you're looking for something a tad less specific than my red-haired elf, you should have many, many options to work with. 

Go check it out, see if they've got the pictures you need to make your dream cover.


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  2. Thanks for the tips. I am just self-publishing a few novels I finished have just been sitting on my computer. I used istock for the first novel, but don't think I will for the second one. Anyway, great info. Thanks.