Saturday, April 3, 2010

How to Find Photos and Illustrations for Your Book Covers and Web site

by Dana Lynn Smith

If you're looking for good quality, reasonably priced, royalty-free photos or illustrations to use on book covers, websites, blogs, and other marketing materials, head to a stock image Web site.

My favorite site is iStockphoto Just enter your search terms in the search box on this site, then select the type of file you are looking for: photo, illustration, flash, video, or audio. If you're looking for something related to seasons or holidays, try the seasonal searches page.

With more than six million files available, the biggest challenge is sorting through the sheer number of search results. To keep the number of images you view manageable, start with a very narrow search term, then expand to broader terms if you don’t find what you need.

I recommend signing up for a free account before you start searching (see the "sign up" link on the upper right side of the screen). This will allow you to save any images you find to a lightbox, so that you can find again them easily. If you're looking for images on several different themes, you can create several lightboxes to keep them organized.

You can also download comps (sample images) to your computer at no charge. I sometimes paste several comps into a Word document as I'm searching, so I can review them all together before making a selection.

Most images come in several sizes and resolutions, including low-resolution images suitable for use online and high-resolution images that can be used in printed materials such as book covers.

To purchase images, sign up for an account and then purchase some "credits" to be used to pay for your images as you download them. Prices start at one credit (about $1.50) for a small low-resolution photo.

If you're using an image on a product or on marketing materials, take a few minutes to read the license agreement to make sure your intended use is allowed. See section 3.c.2 of the iStockphoto Content License Agreement (displayed when you download the image) for information about the use of their images on book covers.

Here are several other companies that offer low-cost or free stock images:

Crestock – images starting at about $1 each.

Dreamstime – 8 million free and low cost images, starting at about 20 cents each.

Stock.XCHNG – sister company to iStockphoto offers 350,000 free images.

If you have trouble finding just the right image, you might want to search several of these sites. Whatever image you have in mind, it's probably available at a very reasonable cost!


Dana Lynn Smith is a book marketing coach and author of The Savvy Book Marketer's Guide to Successful Social Marketing and several other book promotion guides. For more book promotion tips, follow Dana on Twitter, visit The Savvy Book Marketer blog. Get a copy of the Top Book Marketing Tips e-book when you register for her free book marketing newsletter. For more book marketing tips, follow Dana on Twitter or visit

Bookmark and Share

No comments: