Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Writer Wednesday: Cover Clones


Today's topic comes from Sheena-Kay, who posed the question:

How do you avoid ending up with duplicate covers to other authors? Especially with use of stock photo images? Is digital manipulation enough and is going custom always viable with meager pockets?

Duplicate or similar covers happen more than we'd like. There's even a list on Goodreads called cover clones. And I have books on that list. It happens because of stock images. Those images are bought countless times. In fact, my cover for Touch of Death even appears on a slot machine! So how do you avoid this?

The only way to be absolutely sure your cover image won't appear anywhere else is to have it custom made, either by means of a photo shoot or illustrator (who promises not to sell that image to anyone else). That can be costly though. So if you have to use stock images, you want to make sure that the image is manipulated enough to make it unique. 

Filters, layers, zoom, and rotation can all be used to help. Filters will create a different effect on the photo, playing with lighting and contrast. Layers are wonderful because it means you are using other images and layering them together to create a new image. Zooming in on a photo will remove background and can sometimes make the original image hard to recognize if it's an extreme close-up. Rotation is good, but it doesn't change the image much. Using a combination of all of these would yield the most results.

So if you want a unique cover, you can accomplish that with stock photos as long as you do enough manipulation. But keep in mind that your cover model WILL appear on other covers. It's going to happen if you use stock photos. But you can change that model's hair color, eye color, clothing color, etc to make her slightly different.

Do any of you have books with cover clones?

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

12 comments:

  1. This is why branding is so important. I think using stock photos is a risk to take but it's necessary in today's digital market. If you can put a little creative work into your cover and are consistent across all your books, then you're a step ahead.

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  2. No books for me with cover clones, because my cover designer is epic and a half. Plus he never uses the full image of a person. In fact, if you looked at the original photo from my debut novel, you wouldn't even connect the two. No kidding. Basically, if the artist grabs the first image he/she sees, there are bound to be clones. If they dig, they're going to find something no one else is using.

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    1. Even digging can still wind up with a clone. You have to manipulate the image. It's so necessary.

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  3. Thanks for answering my question Kelly. It was really informative and I was lucky enough that two covers in my upcoming missing series are original one time covers. One I got very affordable and the other I won. Well I won the option to choose a cover and the one I picked was a special illustrated one. Yay me! Glad I did it fast because the cover artist has recently changed things up and cost a lot more. I got in while the getting was great. Ka-Ching!

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    1. You're welcome. That's great about how you got your covers and that they're original!

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  4. Very good advice. I think silhouettes, such as what you use over to the right with Curse of the Granville Fortune, are also one of those good techniques to work from.

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    1. That cover is illustrated so it's 100% original, too. :)

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  5. What an interesting post! The advice you gave sounds good to me because it makes sense. Manipulating the image will make it more unique. :) Thanks for sharing!
    ~Jess

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  6. I know to search for titles that are identical, as there is no ownership (i.e. copyright) on titles. But images... never occurred to me. A real challenge in the age of stock photographs for the indies and the traditional publishers.

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    1. It is a challenge. I see big five publishers with cover clones.

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