The Pitfalls of Artwork
Selecting and using images and photos for your writing requires more attention that some realize.
I recently helped my mother produce and publish a children’s book she had written. There was quite a bit of discussion when we got to the issue of artwork, both for the cover and the interior. It seems she was under the impression that if it’s on the internet it’s free. Of course *you* know that to be incorrect. Right? But in talking with others about artwork I’ve found quite a few who may be in danger of getting themselves in trouble.
There are basically three types of artwork available for you to use: Totally free, Royalty free, and Licensed. All three may come with stipulations if you plan to use the art in a product for commercial gain.
What is Free Artwork?
Many suppliers will offer an assortment of cost free graphics and artwork as a teaser to lure buyers in. Licensing requirements may still apply insofar as crediting the source. Some artistic bloggers offer their work as free for personal use as long as you credit them in your work. Very rarely will you encounter anyone who works hard to produce eye-catching graphics then allows others to use them in any way they want with no obligation whatsoever.
What is Royalty Free Artwork?
A royalty is a fee paid to an artist when something they created is used or sold. Just as you hope to make income through royalties on your book, artists may want royalties on their work. Oftentimes artwork that is sold for very small costs (50 cents and up) will come with strings attached: royalties. If so, you will be required to pay the artist a percentage or fee every time your book sells. That means tracking sales and providing reports to the artist along with regular payments. It is best to use Royalty Free graphics in your books, you will be better off in the long run to pay a higher initial fee ($8.00 to $25.00 is common) and buy a restricted use license.
What is Licensed Artwork?
Licensed artwork grants the buyer certain privileges or uses of the artwork. The terms of the license will vary from supplier to supplier but, generally speaking, you will be allowed to use the artwork without further obligation in a product that you offer for sale as long as the number of copies distributed are below a certain threshold and not used for pornographic or hateful purposes. If the copies distributed exceed their threshold you will need to purchase an extended license, which will be considerably more expensive, but by then you should be making some serious money off your product anyway.