Why Copyright Matters

Ok, I think I’ve run off the last batch of trolls so let’s get back to talking about writing.

One aspect of being an Independent Publisher is what happens after the manuscript has been polished to a bright shine: The book cover. I’ve seen some great ones and some not so great ones.

Many authors attempt to make their own covers. I’ve done all but one of my covers because I enjoy putting them together just the way I want them to turn out. It helps that during my newspaper career I was trained in pagination, which included working with Photoshop, and being able to create graphics to place on the page was a must.

Here’s an example of one author’s book covers that I recently saw:



Jodi Fahey has done all of the covers for her Casey Blain Series (available on Amazon here). I particularly like the dragon wrapped around the sword on Dragon Lines as she created the dragon from scratch.

Aside from Escaping Infinity, which was done by a fantastic artist in Germany, Adrijus Guscia, all of my covers were done by my own hand and using elements and graphics that were either royalty-free and in public domain or directly purchased for use on a book cover.

I did the original full color covers for Reservations and Betrayals:




And when it came time to release the covers under a new publisher along with the final book of the series, I decided to go with a black & white theme that matched the main character’s worldview but I incorporated elements of the original covers into it at the same time:


Neither Jodi or I will ever have to worry about someone claiming we have improperly used an image that we had no right to use. I mention this because I have seen many authors try to cut costs by just grabbing anything they find online. The thinking is: “Hey, its online, it must be free, right?”


That’s the same kind of thinking used by a few deadbeats that buy a book, read it real quick and then return it within the allowed timeframe to get a full refund. Oh, it isn’t that they didn’t like the book, they just don’t want to pay for it. Only slightly less insulting is the rare few that think by leaving a review for the book, this is all the payment the author needs.


You don’t work for free and neither does the author or the graphic artist.

I understand the temptation for the new author who just doesn’t have the money to pay the premium. But I’m telling you, it just isn’t worth it in the long run. There is an old image I found online, had to have been created at least 20 years ago. It is the perfect image for a book cover I want to use on an upcoming novel I want to release next year.

After adding a public domain NASA image of Mars along with the title and my name to the cover, here is the final product:




Amazing, isn’t it? Problem is: If I used it I would be a damned thief.

Because I cannot locate the artist who created the image of the woman against that spectacular space background. In trying to track down JDM, I discovered she was a young woman who was outed about a decade ago for stealing images from other artists and doctoring them and then trying to pass them off as her own original work.


And no, I’m not into the “two wrongs make a right” line of thinking that says to go ahead and use it because she won’t dare complain about it. Because I’d still be stealing the image from the original artist that she stole it from. And even if I could finally track down JDM how could I trust her if she told me this actually was an original of her own creation?

No. As perfect as the cover is, it will never be published as anything but an example of what NOT to do when it comes to book cover creation. If you do not have ownership or permission from its owner then you cannot, must not, use it.

There are better options and they don’t always mean costly. The cover for Escaping Infinity only cost me $45. Yes, I said forty-five United States of America dollars. In the case of When The Gods Fell, I have commissioned an artist to create an original cover which will be inspired by the style of the image above but will not be a blatant copy of it.

It will not be the perfect cover. But it will be a fantastic cover that comes with the peace of mind of 100% ownership of its copyright. And that is something you cannot put a price on.


EDITED: To correct the spelling of Jodi Fahey’s name and updated banner for her books.



  1. Richard,
    What if you’re talentless in graphics like me. What are the implications of commissioning a cover artist to do the cover? Do you both co own the image rights or does it belong to the artist?
    Just asking because that’s an issue I’m totally unclear on



    1. Good questions. If graphics isn’t your thing, you could just use a photo – Legathy Of Death’s cover is a picture I took of the Golden Gate Bridge – and a very simple photo editing program will let you drop the title and author name on it and you are good to go. Amazon and CreateSpace have cover creator options that are very easy to use with standard templates. It won’t be unique, but it will get the job done.

      In my case, both cover artists have sold the right to the image to me and I am the only person who can use it. Some artists do resell their images but this is agreed upon before purchase.

      I hope that helps.

      Liked by 1 person


  2. I’m curious where you found the info about JDM; I’d like to read about that too.

    On a similar note: https://www.bleedingcool.com/2017/11/02/jeanette-hayes-copied-art-deviantart-kaze-jim/

    That person’s outright thievery of other people’s art is defended because she’s a darling of the establishment. Stealing fanart, and original works and passing them off as hers, and then earning tons of money for the thievery is sickening.



    1. I will need to dig around for it. I wish I had bookmarked it but it was at the end of several days of online searching through several different types of Google searches and I don’t remember how I found it. That and I was disappointed to learn I had lost the perfect image for my book cover. If I find it I will post it here.



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