Is Your Book Cover a Cliché?

by August Wainwright on July 30, 2013

You want to know what the problem is with using stock photography for your book cover?

It’s THIS:

Book Cover Cliche 1 by August Wainwright Book Cover Cliche 2 by August Wainwright
Book Cover Cliche 3 by August WainwrightBook Cover Cliche 4 by August Wainwright

How amazing is that? Almost too good to be true.

This is the main issue with stock images – anyone can use them. And on the surface, each of these authors was probably either:

1. Outwardly happy with what their publishers did with the cover, since they really don’t have much of a say anyways


2. Super excited when their cover designer came back with such a dark, foggy, noir cover for their super unique, super well-written, soon-to-be bestseller that is just so darn… super.

If you’re a self-published author who actually has some say over their cover, I implore you to try something different. If you hire a cover designer, talk to them about where they get their images from, how often they re-use the same image – just talk to them. Make them prove their worth.

Their are a lot of cover designers that are springing up that have no problem taking your $100 and selling you a crappy cover… and then using the same image a week later and selling another version to someone else.

Take the time to find a well-respected PROFESSIONAL. They are out there (more on this later).

Click Here For More Cover Cliches

Images sourced from

Join the August Wainwright Community

Signing up will give you access to exclusive content and keep you informed of any new posts on the site, plus release dates and special promos on my books. We only email important updates and never spam.


Very helpful information. It’s interesting looking at the same covers and different novels…..I can easily see how readers would get confused…For my poetry that I plan to publish I have always thought of using a photo as sad as it might sound that was taken for me a few years back that actually looks like a painted scene. Its mine so I know no one can use that. My novels I have going on the other hand, I’ve images in mind for each one and already desided I probably will have to go out and take my own photo’s for those as well and then apply artwork to them in order to arrive at what I want. So far no one I have connected with has offered me anything near what I feel is best suited for these stories…I guess I will find out how good my own idea’s are when I get to the publishing stage…

by Rachealgrace Adams on July 31, 2013 at 2:54 pm. Reply #

Thanks for helping to get the word out about stock photos on book covers.

A lot of authors don’t understand the risks involved. It goes beyond just clone covers: what if that same image is used in a national ad campaign, or by a political group you really don’t want your book associated with? *Anybody* could license that stock photo.

Unfortunately, many designers aren’t explaining the risks of stock photos to their clients. Authors aren’t lawyers and aren’t necessarily familiar with how stock photos work, so to them it’s just a photo-realistic cover for a great price. In truth, this is an unethical practice on the part of the designer.

Here are some more examples:

In some cases, the designer didn’t even bother to change the image at all (no re-coloring, no collage, nothing!), so the resulting pair of covers is near-identical.

by Saul Bottcher on October 8, 2013 at 10:53 am. Reply #

Leave your comment


Required. Not published.

If you have one.

%d bloggers like this: