Friday, December 11, 2009
Stock images and cover art
Many book covers these days incorporate stock images. Some cover art departments use such photos but add different elements to make the cover as creative (and easy to read) as possible.
Some of them... don't.
Good use of stock image
Here's the original photo.
And here's what the publisher, Hyperion, did with it.
This took second place in the Contemporary category of an annual contest of romance novel covers (I remember because I voted for it).
Now, what's the worst that could happen with stock images?
Poor use of stock image
Yes, that's right. The same photograph was used for three different books (by three different authors, none of whom I'll bet are aware of this). Minimal changes, and a couple of the titles are partly obscured by the clouds. It's courtesy of the infamous PublishAmerica... and by no means the only cover PA reused again and again and again.
Some stock images are non-exclusive, so elements from one book cover may be present in another's. But each cover should have something to set it apart as well - and not just the minimal effort of adding the title and author's name to a photograph.
Even if the writer is happy with that, imagine such a book next to all the others in a bookstore. Is it eye-catching, in a good way? Does it pass the ten foot test? If it's going to be the first in a trilogy, will it share certain aspects with the sequels - for instance, having the same border to show that they're in the same series? (And that's just the little I've picked up about cover art from people who know far more.)
Books are still judged by their covers, just as prospective employees are judged by their appearances. And such first impressions matter.