Not all authors need stock photos. For example, authors with a sweet traditional publishing deal will have photos taken for them by professionals, paid for by their publisher. For another example, authors who want to self-publish with a serious handicap against their success can try to get by without them.
None of us would mind being one of those first examples, but also none of us are counting on that happening. As for the second example, we all know better than to fall into that rut. Everybody in between those extremes needs stock photos for a host of reasons:
- Cover art for your books, until you’re ready to pay for custom design
- Backgrounds for your social media posts
- Eye-catchers for Facebook advertising and similar promotions
- Stuff for your website and social media banners
You don’t just need stock photos. You need good stock photos. Good stock photos put you in competition with the other professionals, while bad ones just make an already unprofessional presentation look even worse.
And you don’t just need good stock photos. You need goos stock photos you’re allowed to use. Copyright law says that once somebody takes a photo, they get to say who uses it and how. If you use it another way, you can be sued the same way you could sue somebody for distributing your book without payment and permission.
Even worse, copyright trolls like Getty have a habit of buying the rights to thousands of photos, then essentially blackmailing artists and authors who lack the funds to mount a good defense. They have lawyers actively looking for opportunities to get a few hundred or thousand dollars out of authors like you.
Besides. It’s only fair. You make your living off of copyright. You should respect the copyright of others.
Those three factors leave you with five viable options:
Photo Credit: Denise Jans