5 Tips for Choosing Images for Your Book Cover

painting of girl lying on beach in torquoise bikini reading a book

My latest book, Stories From Bondi will be published by Ginninderra Press later this year. Because designing the book cover comes early in the production process, and authors have the opportunity to provide input on the design, I have been researching suitable images.

“Covers need to be both visually enticing and appropriate for a book’s content and audience.”

I often turn to Shuttlestock when looking for a cover pic or for advertising purposes. I did advertise my last book on Facebook recently. According to  Help! My Facebook Ads Suckit’s best not to use the book cover in the ad. Facebook don’t want your ad to look like an ad. Too many ad-looking posts are not good for Facebook business. So I create an image for each book that represents the story, but is not the cover image.

I’m using the above pic every time I refer to Stories From Bondi. It’s not the book cover.

This pic below is the image I use when referring to my last book, The Usual Story I purchased copyright and use the image for my Facebook ads.

Regarding Facebook ads Marketing Secrets blog has some great advice.  Have a read of ‘Confused By Facebook Marketing? Learn the Ins and Outs With These Handy Tips‘.

a man and woman dancing tango

Some great recommendations on choosing a cover image for your book cover from Damonza cover design:

Choosing a photograph or illustration for your book’s cover can be a daunting task. No matter how imaginative writers can be, visual imagination is not always included. For many authors, the fact that an entire novel requires only one picture to illustrate it is a blessing. The problem is that you still need to come up with that one picture — and it needs to be a good one. Because it’s just one picture. One. The following are a few book cover design tips to help you formulate and execute a concept for your cover’s imagery.

1. Solidify Your Ideas

Is your book about the plight of a young waitress trying to make it in the cut-throat world of fine dining while juggling her love life? If so, an illustration of a moving truck is probably not your best option for a cover graphic. Think of elements from your story that would fit well in a background image. For the story of our struggling server, a photograph of an abandoned apron could be complimented by a matchbook with a suitor’s phone number scribbled in it. Focus on items or scenes that suggest your subject matter. If you’ve hit a roadblock for image ideas, consult with a designer. The pros handle images for a living and simply leave the words to you.

2. Be Aware of Legal Issues

You may be thrilled when you use Google Image Search to locate that perfect photo for your cover, but beware — licensing issues will probably prevent you from using it. You will need to find the copyright owner (usually the photographer) and acquire written permission to use the image. Some photographers will be happy you’re using their work, some will ask you to pay a fee, and a few will flat-out refuse to let you use their work. In some cases, you may not be able to track down the copyright holder at all. Be prepared for this scenario and have a back up plan. The last thing you want is to have your book ready to go to press, only to be held up by a legal battle over an image.

3. Browse Stock Photo Websites

If you’re really lacking in inspiration for your cover, there are hundreds of stock photo websites that have plenty of imagery available. Search for words that have something to do with your story and see what pops up. You may just find yourself flooded with ideas after seeing what the internet thinks! In the best case scenario, you may even find an image that you want to use for your cover. Stock photo websites sell conditional and exclusive licenses for every image on the site, so securing rights to use one will be a breeze. If you’ve chosen a designer to work with, talk to him or her about using stock photos. They can help you through the licensing process and anything else that gets complicated.

4. Take Your Own Photographs

If you’re looking for something with a little more of a personal touch, try to create your own image. Even cell phones these days have high resolution cameras that can take brilliant photos. There are also thousands of apps that can help you add filters and effects to the photo you’ve taken. When choosing to go this route, however, you must make sure that your photos are being taken in (and staying in) high resolution formats, otherwise they won’t be printable. If you have a photograph that you would like to use but you’re not sure if it will work, show it to your designer. Designers can apply filters and alter photos so that they look great on a book cover.

5. Work With a Professional Designer on your Book Cover Design Tips

No matter how you end up finding and selecting the images for the cover of your book, it is advisable to work with a professional designer to put everything together. They can help you choose fonts and colors that will compliment the imagery you’ve chosen and can even adjust the images you have to better suit a book cover.


For further reading, check out my posts Recharging Your Creative Batteries and Writing Tip: I Am Not the Stories I Tell.  And to make sure not to miss anything from Libby Sommer Author you can follow me on Facebook  or Instagram.

9 thoughts on “5 Tips for Choosing Images for Your Book Cover

  1. Libby, an excellent article and thank you so much for sharing your knowledge about book covers. For my first book I worked with a designer and was very happy with the final result. I can see one’s own photographs be a success but they need to be top resolution and not too busy. My son uses his own photos for his album covers and they are usually very atmospheric. Good advice regarding copyright. For my blog I rely heavily on pixaby which can be freely used … great choice and easy to import. Good luck with your ‘Stories from Bondi’ – now I am very intrigued about its cover … when will this be revealed?!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. thanks for the tip Annika re Pixaby. i’ll check it out. i’ve chosen an image for the cover of ‘Stories from Bondi’ that my publisher has approved. the book won’t be released until the second half of the year. i’m getting in early attending to all the bits and pieces that need to be in place before publication. back cover next. you know how stressful it can be as release day approaches.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Incredibly stressful, Libby. I just wondered did it become less so after the first book? I bet the year will fly fast and it’s soon publication time – a very good idea to get as much of the prep work ready as possible. Enjoy … it is amazing, remember that! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      2. the most stressful park of release of the first book for me was the launch. i HATE being the centre of attention. and then there’s the worry that no-one will turn up. lots of people did turn up in fact and many more had to be turned away, BUT, no more launches for me. i thought i was going to have a heart attack i was so stressed. also the social media felt a big stress at the time too, but at least i feel more comfortable with all of that now. doesn’t sell books, but helps increase the author profile. hope your health has improved. take care x

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting, Libby. I wouldn’t have guessed the cover would be a bad idea for a FB ad. I do have photos for each book that I used before the cover was ready so I think that would work.

    BTW, how did the FB ad go? Was it worth it?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. it’s worth having a read of that book that i mentioned in my post re FB ads. i had to read it 3 times and make lots of notes. very complex, the whole thing. FB ads are different to FB boosts, as you probably know. the boosts seem to be a waste of money. according to that book i read, it’s good to have 5 books in a series and then you advertise the first book and there’s a funnel effect that leads to the 5th book. you can advertise for $5 (Australian) a day on FB. so i advertised every day for a couple of weeks. you are able to see how many people click on the link to your buy page. i don’t know how many book sales resulted from these clicks as i receive my royalties each January and haven’t received them yet 🙂 You can only advertise from your Author Page on FB. let me know if you research FB ads further and what results you come up with.


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