Using images on your book cover not only provides insight for your readers as to what your book is about, it’s also your opportunity to visualise your masterpiece in whichever way you’ve dreamt of. Whether this be through capturing your main protagonist or setting the time period and locale of your book, imagery can really help sell your book and tell an entire story on its own.

Where can I find images to use online?

There are many sources you can find images to use upon your book cover – one of the easiest would be taking the images yourself. With the rise of mobile technology breaking barriers everyday it’s never been easier to become an amateur photographer. Another great benefit of this is it will be completely bespoke, meaning your book cover will be the only place where this imagery exists. This is also the case when we design one of your book covers – BuzBooks creates a composition entirely for the purpose of your book cover. Combining multiple images through excellent photo manipulation means the possibilities are almost limitless. If you are writing a memoir or a book with historical background this could also be a good excuse to open up your photobooks and take a trip down memory lane to find an image of a particular person, or maybe of a location – something that ignites those memories you’ve included in your book.

If you are self-publishing and using the Internet to source an image you will need to be conscious of where you choose it from. The photograph/illustration has been uploaded by someone, taken by someone or is likely to be owned by someone in one way or other, unless you hit the jackpot and discover it’s on a website like, which has a wonderful collection of over 1.8 million+ high quality stock images that have been kindly shared for free for both personal and commercial use by their talented community. Bottom line is always check the origin of what photos you find upon the Internet, as it may not always be available for commercial use. BuzBooks does all the hard work for you by sourcing images that come with the correct license for use upon a book cover and other merchandise.

Here’s a few of the common licenses you will find when sourcing images for your book cover on the Internet.

Royalty Free

Royalty-Free (RF) is a term that would likely come up if you’re intending on using stock imagery for your book cover design. When you purchase stock images for use upon a book cover you’re not technically buying the image, you’re simply buying the right to use it. This is what the term Royalty Free means – imagery that includes a copyright license where the user has the right to use the picture without many restrictions, such as the need to pay royalties.

This means that other authors and humans alike would have the ability to use the image as well, however it’s unlikely that anything will look identical to your book cover design – especially if it’s been designed by BuzBooks, where we can use our creative talent to turn the image into something entirely bespoke.

Big tip! Make sure you don’t get confused between Royalty-free and Rights Managed images, these are two very different things. Rights Managed (RM) licenses is a copyright license that allows a one-time use of the photo as specified by the license. This means the image license tends to be pricier, and you have to specify its purpose exactly, for example your book cover design only for a specific circulation of 1,000 copies. We would recommend avoiding RM images as they come with a huge price tag and also the licensing specifics can become tedious to deal with.

Creative Commons

For those looking for a cheaper option for your book cover design, Creative Commons (CC) might be the license for you. A Creative Commons (CC) licence is a public copyright licence that enables the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted work. These are free to obtain, however you must check if the image that you intend on using has any attribution requirements that has been licensed under the license terms. Here’s a breakdown of what may be required in order for you to use an image freely:

Creative Commons (CC): Creative Commons is an American non-profit organisation that allows licensing free of charge to the public. This symbol represents a free to obtain license and with a ‘0’ next to it requires no attribution.

Attribution (BY): Licenses may copy, distribute, display and perform the work and make derivative works and remixes based on it only if they give the author or licensor the credits (attribution) in the manner specified by these.

Share-alike (SA): Licensees may distribute derivative works only under a licence identical that governs the original work.

Non-commercial (NC): Licensees may copy, distribute, display, and perform the work and make derivative works based on it only for non-commercial purposes.

No Derivative Works (ND): Licensees may copy, distribute, display and perform only verbatim copies of the work, not derivative works based on it.

Websites such as Wikimedia Commons and Creative Commons will have these specific symbols to help you understand how to credit the original photographer.

If you wish to avoid this step you can use a website such as which features over a million images listed under the Creative Commons Public Domain deed CC0, meaning you can freely use for both personal and commercial use without attribution. You could also save the hassle by getting in touch with BuzBooks – if you have an image in mind for your cover design but don’t know where it came from, we can do the hard work by attempting to source the image in our vast stock libraries. If we are unsuccessful in our search we’ll do our best to source an image very similar.

If you find a suitable image but need help with the design aspect of your book cover design then please feel free to get in touch, we’re always more than happy to help in any way possible!