Licensing a photo for a book cover.

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by acearchie, Apr 3, 2015.

  1. acearchie macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2006
    Hopefully someone might be able to shed some light on this.

    I've been approached by a big global publisher about having one of my photos on the cover of one of their latest fiction novels.

    I instantly replied back saying I was interested and to ask what the initial print run is.

    Hopefully I have enough time to properly work out how much to charge if they come back to me.

    Any suggestions from anyone that knows about this or has sold before?
  2. Attonine macrumors 6502a

    Feb 15, 2006
    Kent. UK

    I suspect, if it's a global publisher, they will tell you how much they pay, rather than asking you how much you charge. I am sure the offer they will make will be perfectly in line with the market, after all, they do this quite a lot! The contract, terms and conditions will be non-negotiable, too.
  3. acearchie thread starter macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2006
    Thanks for the advice.

    I almost thought to be greedy on his reply but you make perfect sense.

    I have to remember that this is sort of 'free' money so I should be grateful.
  4. Apple fanboy macrumors Penryn

    Apple fanboy

    Feb 21, 2012
    Behind the Lens, UK
    Not free money. Just getting paid for the hard work you have done.

    Hope it's a big money spinner! Let us see the cover when it's done.
  5. acearchie thread starter macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2006
    It's no life changer! BUT it will help cover the water pump that blew this week reducing the flat to no water (think caveman style!)

    I'm tempted to say it's karma but I don't want to get too superstitious!
  6. Apple fanboy macrumors Penryn

    Apple fanboy

    Feb 21, 2012
    Behind the Lens, UK
    Been there done that. Grim.
  7. Doylem macrumors 68040


    Dec 30, 2006
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    "Big, global publisher" = price goes up...
    Current, parlous state of the stock photo business = price goes down...
    Check out the print run and where it's being published (US only?)...
    You can be reasonably hard-nosed and obliging at the same time...
    Ideally, you'd want them to come back to you, to re-license your image, for other, overseas editions...
    They may well suggest a fee. Just don't settle for peanuts... ;)
  8. monokakata macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2008
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    Yeah. The whole domestic/foreign rights thing can be a swamp. Just try not to sign away worldwide rights for the same price as domestic rights.

    I had a textbook cover, back in the 70s, but the publisher wanted my image only for the UK/Australia edition. They said that they'd get back to me if they wanted it for the US edition. They never did -- they used a different image in the US. I never did find out what that was all about.

    There was no negotiating. They knew and I knew who had the power.

    I got a few hundred bucks and a copy of the cover (this was in the days of hardback textbooks with slip covers) and an item for my CV. I was satisfied, and still am, but I'm sorry I never got to walk into a university bookstore and see my picture.
  9. steveash macrumors 6502


    Aug 7, 2008
    Well done, that's a good achievement for any photographer. From my experience the publishing industry doesn't pay huge amounts and can often try to get away with offering credits and free copies of the book rather than cash. It's worth making it clear that you understand the value of your work.

    Value for commercial image sales is all about usage and rights. Usage being the number of books and how large the image will be reproduced. The may want to also use the image for advertising in the press, as posters and at point of sale in book shops. Rights being if they want exclusive use or if you can sell it for other use as well.

    If you can build a good relationship with the art buyers at a large publishers then you could potentially get lots of repeat work. So it may be worth not pushing too hard. I've known people start in this way who now get regular commissions for book covers.

    More than likely, as said above, they will have a price and a usage contract already in mind. Unless your image is unique for their particular storyline and difficult to reproduce then they will be likely to move on to the next one on their list if you are too awkward.
  10. MCAsan macrumors 601


    Jul 9, 2012
    Sounds like it is time for a consult with a lawyer that specializes in such licensing agreements.
  11. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Know your worth, but, at the same time don't play too hard to get.

    While the contract itself may be non-negotiable, it wouldn't hurt to talk to others who have had stuff published (if you know some) and see what they say.

    The bottom line is that being published is a superb achievement, and will enhance your CV. More than likely, it will serve to open other, further, (and as test unknown and unexpected) doors.

    Thus, cash or income ought not to be the primary goal here, but getting your name known out there as someone whose work is good, and is accessible, is respected and can be recommended is of far greater importance, to my mind.
  12. v3rlon macrumors 6502a

    Sep 19, 2014
    Earth (usually)
    Big global companies will still try to go cheap on you. They need to cut costs by 10% this quarter.

    I recall reading about writers and a famous one was talking about how fees for TV and feature films for members of the writers guild are regulated by some agreement, but the first contract you get sent will often contain "mistakes" which always favor the big global company.

    So, definitely ask around - or decide what it is worth to you and make a deal.

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