A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: Using Images to Bring Your Book to Life


Many of our authors like to use their own art work, illustrations, or photographs on their covers or interiors. This is a great way to make your book more appealing to readers, but there are very specific requirements an image must meet in order to be published. In this video, we’ll help you determine which pictures to send and which kinds probably cannot be printed. But first, let’s take a look at where we can place images.

Images for Your Cover

We’ll design a cover for you, but if you have specific pictures that you’d like to use, we can accept one or two of your own images as long as they meet the size and resolution requirements that we’ll learn about later in this video. You’re also welcome to browse this stock photography website for images: https://www.thinkstockphotos.com/search/#images/c=431,253,28,34,260,13,268,215,445,2,452,451,109,277,68,344/f=PIHV. You can select up to two stock images to use for your cover at no additional charge. Just be sure to let us know the ID numbers of the images you choose.

Since working with images is one of the more time consuming things that our designers do, we can accept up to 10 of your own images for black and white books or up to 50 of your own images for color books at no additional charge. Images include photographs, drawings, art work, screen shots, charts, or any other graphic that would need to be inserted into your text. If you are using stock images for your interior, these do come at an additional charge no matter how many you are using. There is also an additional fee if you are going to use more than 10 images for your black and white book or more than 50 images for your color book. See our Fee Schedule or contact your representative for more information on Stock Image Processing Fees and Image Insertion Fees.

Permission to Use

Making sure that your images are legal or sending the necessary written permissions will help keep your book moving through production without delays. AuthorHouse reserves the right to refuse to process graphic images that seem to come from copyrighted sources unless written permission from the copyright holder is included. It is usually safe to use your own art work or personal photographs, but a photograph taken by a photography studio or a professional photographer will require the studio’s or photographer’s permission even if you paid for the photograph to be taken. In addition, most images on the internet or in newspapers and magazines are copyrighted and will require written permission to reproduce.

How to Send Your Images

You should submit your images as separate, individual, electronic files. Your manuscript should include image insertion placeholders that indicate what image file should be placed where. Please do not embed your images in the manuscript itself as we will need to strip them out before production begins. If more than 10 images need to be removed, Image Extraction Fees will apply.

We prefer to receive your images as TIF files. We can also accept JPEG and GIF files. If you are submitting a completed cover design that includes cover text, we prefer you send them as a layered Photoshop or layered TIF file. If you have only hard copy of the images you’d like to send, they will need to be scanned or converted to electronic image files before they can be inserted into your book. Scanning services are usually available at your local office supply store. We also offer scanning services for an additional fee. See our Fee Schedule or ask a representative if you have questions about scanning services.

Image Size & Resolution

An image is only as good as it’s resolution relative to its size. Size and resolution together determine the quality of your image and how it will look in your final book. Problems with image size and resolution are the number one reason for production delays, so we’ll do our best to help explain.

You can think of resolution as crispness or the quality of focus in your image. Obviously, we want the best possible resolution. Resolution is measured in PPI or Pixels Per Inch. You may also see it measured in DPI, Dots Per Inch. Images for your book should be no less than 300 PPI or DPI. Anything less than 300 will not print with accurate clarity and may appear fuzzy or jagged in your final book.

You should send us your images at the size that you would like them to be printed. We recommend they be no less than 6 inches wide for landscaped-oriented images, or 6 inches tall for portrait-oriented images. If you send an image that is smaller, we may be limited in where we can place the image and how big it will be in the final book.

Full Bleed Images

On our covers and on the inside pages of our color books, we have the option of Full Bleed Images. A Full Bleed Image is one that extends all the way to the edges of the cover or the page. If you want an image to be Full Bleed, you’ll need it to be slightly bigger than the page or the cover itself. This is because Full Bleed Images are required to extend beyond the edge of the cover by 1/8 of an inch and beyond the edge of the interior pages by ¼ of an inch. This outside eighth or a quarter of an inch is called the Bleed Space and will be cropped off by the printer. For this reason, you should make sure there’s no vital information too close to the edges of your images if you intend for them to be Full Bleed. Unfortunately, we are not able to print Full Bleed on the pages of our black and white books.

For a Full Bleed Image on your front cover, you can determine the minimum size requirement by adding 1/8 of an inch to the cover’s top, bottom, and right-hand side. For example, if you are publishing a 6 x 9 book, a Full Bleed Image will need to be submitted at 6 1/8 x 9 ¼ inches. For a Full Bleed Image on the interior pages of a color book, add ¼ inch to the top, bottom, and outside-edge of the final page size. For example, if you are publishing an 8 ½ x 8 ½ book, the minimum size would be 8 ¾ inches wide by 9 inches tall. Remember that the outer ¼ inch will be cropped at the printer.

As a general rule, the bigger your image, the better your layout and design options will be. We can always make an image smaller without sacrificing it’s quality. But, we cannot enlarge an image without decreasing it’s resolution. You can learn how to check your images and make sure that they meet our minimum requirements by watching our video tutorial Checking Image Size and Resolution. If you are publishing a color book, we also highly recommend watching the video Color Books: Guidelines and Design Options to learn more information that is unique to color publishing.

If you are submitting images that will need brightened, darkened, or cropped, a Manipulation Fee will apply for each image. We can re-size images free of charge, provided of course they still meet size and resolution requirements. We can also change color modes free of charge whether it is converting color images to gray-scale or converting RGB color mode to CMYK color mode.

RGB and CMYK Color Space

RGB stands for Red/Green/Blue, the primary colors of light. This is the color space used by image scanners, digital cameras, computer monitors, and all other devices that involve light emitted from a source.

CMYK stands for Cyan/Magenta/Yellow/Black, the primary colors of pigment. CMYK is the predominant color space used in the publishing industry where colors are not backed by light.

Any color images that appear on your cover or inside a color book must be CMYK. It is best if you convert your images to CMYK yourself so you can see exactly how the images will look when printed. Otherwise, we will perform a standard color mode conversion on your images to make them CMYK printer compliant. The difference between RGB and CMYK usually isn’t noticeable in photographs but you may notice a slight color variation in a rich background color or in colors that approximate a neon effect. These vibrant RGB colors won't look bad when converted to CMYK but they will look different, usually a little more subdued.

How to Tell Us Where Your Images Go

When you are ready to submit your images, you’ll want to help us understand where they go. Here is how to communicate image placement.

First, rename your image files in chronological order as they should appear throughout your book. This tells us very quickly how many pictures there are and what order they go in. It also helps us recognize if we may be missing an image.

Then, type your image placement instructions in the manuscript itself exactly where you’d like each image to go. We ask that you keep your image placement instructions between paragraphs, never in the middle of a paragraph. The instructions should stand apart from your main text for easy recognition. We recommend making the placement instructions bigger, bolder, and red.

In production, we will simply replace these easy to spot instructions with the images that should go there. Please be sure that the instructions refer to the images by their exact file names or we may not understand which image goes where.

Image Captions

If your images have captions, or descriptive text should accompany them, you can include the captions in your image placement instructions within the manuscript itself or in a separate document. If you’re sending the captions in a separate document, please clearly label the document ‘Captions’ and remember to make sure that each caption is paired to an image by a specific image file name.

If you are publishing a color or poetry book, or if your book contains special formatting concerns such as footnotes, tables, columns of text, or an index, we suggest that you watch our subject-specific videos on these topics before submitting your materials. Otherwise, if you’re ready to submit your materials, watch our video Submitting Your Materials, What Happens Next.

If you have any additional questions or concerns for your book, you are always welcome to contact us at 1-888-728-8467.