Sourcing a cover image for your CUT e-book

The image on the cover of your e-book can really help to stimulate interest from readers. A little thought and planning will create content and composition which, while hinting at the subject matter, will intrigue the potential buyer.

Many writers are enjoying the creative process of taking photographs or producing artwork for use on the covers of their CUT e-books, or using images created by friends and crediting them inside the cover. If you like the challenge of taking a suitable photograph yourself, it’s worth noting that an image created by a basic digital camera or smartphone is sufficient – the ideal file size is between 250k and 1Mb.

However, if you would rather source a ready-made image, you must take care to ensure that you respect the copyright of its originator. As a writer, you will appreciate that just because it’s easy to copy something, it doesn’t mean that you can do so legally. Unless you have explicit permission to use an image, don’t. There are many images legally available online free of charge, although sometimes images which are paid for have better quality and fewer restrictions (for example, you may not need to acknowledge the creator).

Here are some suggestions to help you source suitable images online. It’s important to note that these websites may change their terms, so before using them you should look at their Terms of Use or FAQs to check the licence conditions carefully.


Free images

These sites allow you to use their images free of charge; without even crediting the originator:

  1. freeimages – an excellent source of free images
  2. morgueFile – another good site for free stock photography
  3. FreeMediaGoo – a small but high quality collection, many supplied by professionals
  4. pixabay – another collection of free images


Images free with attribution

In these examples, while the images are free, you are required to acknowledge the creator. You are able to do this on the inside cover of your CUT e-book, by entering the appropriate details when you upload your work.

Some of these sites use a Creative Commons licence, which allows you to use the images with certain conditions. Creative Commons licences vary, so be sure to choose one which:

  • Allows commercial use
  • Allows modification, so that “derivative works” are allowed
  • Does not require “share alike”


  1. Google Images – Images are copyright, so you should not just copy any of them. However, you can filter your search to show only images which are labelled “reuse with modification”
  2. Flickr – Similarly, the photographs are copyright, but you can filter your search to include only those under a Creative Commons licence, which are available for commercial use and can be modified


Paid for images

  1. Big Stock Photo – One of many good stock photography sites
  2. iStockphoto – One of the oldest and most popular stock photo sites
  3. Dreamstime – This one has a very good advanced search facility, enabling you to search by image size, price, age of picture, or even the main colours in it. It also has a free section


If you know of other great sources for images, please do share them with us by adding a comment to this blog.

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