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Take great book cover stock images and make them extraordinary!

All of our premade and custom book cover designs are created using royalty-free stock photography with a few exceptions. If you have a commissioned illustration, painting or portrait you would like used on your design please email the artwork and we will let you know if we can work with it.


We are happy to send book cover image suggestions for your design! We assist authors in stock searches for imagery that works proportionately and visually with consideration given to highlights, shadows, camera angles and depth.


We do our book cover stock image searches primarily on and as we have created extensive galleries to assist us in image queries. These stock providers also offer large sample files for book cover mockups, easy to understand terms, flexibility, competitive pricing and a large selection of professional pictures. Another great source for book cover pictures is If you have an alternative royalty-free stock resource that offers large image files we should be able to work with your provider as well. Book cover image files should be at least 300 dpi at 6x9 inches.

Once the stock photography has been chosen for a design we will create a book cover mockup (sample design). Once the book cover mockup is approved we will email instructions for obtaining the book cover images. The images then need to be purchased directly by the author or publisher and emailed to us. Stock should not be purchased prior to us sending instructions to do so.

Having clients purchase the stock photography for their design gives the licensing rights for the imagery to the author or publisher. This means usage of finished cover designs is only limited by the terms of the stock provider licensing. RL Design does not charge royalties, have complicated contracts, or usage limitations of final artwork.

Purchase Not Required

We have an extensive collection of royalty-free, commercial use artwork that we can use without limitation on our designs. This stock includes textures, patterns, general shapes, and basic elements that usually work as background images for book covers or as complimentary elements. We can use this stock on designs without requiring extra fees from our clients, separate purchases, or licensing restrictions.

Premade cover designs do not require stock photography purchase!

We cannot distribute artwork, stock or photography to clients. We may be able to give links if our clients are interested in purchasing the artwork for themselves.

Stock Licensing

Royalty-free stock photography is usually offered with standard or exclusive licensing. For the purpose of our design services standard licensing is appropriate. Keep in mind that this means the photo can be purchased and used as many times as the stock provider chooses to sell it. We do, however, design our covers to create a custom look and unique style for each author. If you choose an exclusive image from any provider please read the licensing carefully, some are not as exclusive as the name would suggest.

Most royalty-free stock providers limit print impressions of stock photography, usually between 250,000 and 500,000 impressions. This means that the stock images cannot be printed more than this many times regardless of the medium. Usually digital impressions (as would be the case in ebooks or website art) are not limited. If more copies will be made, an extended/enhanced license will need to be purchased.

Stock images cannot be used for logo design or in any manner that would suggest association with an individual entity. If you need a graphic created for your series or new publishing business please see our graphic design services page.

Be wary of free stock licensing as it usually has size and usage restrictions. Free stock websites may have an image you want, but the building or book cover model on the stock may not have the proper releases to be used for a commercial design. Commercial design is anything that will be sold. Personal use stock photography can only be used for personal use such as a family newsletter, personal blog or school work.

If you have any questions about specific stock licensing please contact the stock provider before making a purchase.

Design Limitations

We do not offer custom illustration, hand drawn art or cartooning/caricature. Designs with sensitive material, language or those that are too religious or political in nature may be declined.

Photography Costs

To find the cost of stock photography we recommend clients visit stock websites and browse the images and fees. Many stock websites offer credit packages or subscriptions for those looking to buy several images. Most of our cover designs will require 1 to 4 stock images to be purchased.

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