Book Cover Art: Did You Get What You Paid For?

About a year ago I started to notice how all the Kindle books started to look alike. At first I thought it was just the nature of genre fiction. After all, one pair of lovers looks pretty much like every other pair of lovers. However, once I started paying attention, and did some digging, I realized it wasn’t me. I wasn’t growing desensitized (or going crazy), I really was seeing the same covers on different author’s books. After that day I’ve made it a game. I collect these offenders everywhere, and marvel that more people don’t notice them.

I know what you’re thinking; “It’s just a few independent authors cutting some corners with free stock photos.” Or “It’s a simple mistake. The design company accidentally resold the same cover art.” Well, in both cases you’d be wrong. The big publishers are just as guilty of relying on stock cover art as the little guys. Even major authors don’t escape the curse. Also the stock art issue predates the independent publishing boom.  Digital shopping just makes it easier to spot.

Here are a few of the examples I’ve found, I hope they amuse and entertain. Or in the event that you’re currently negotiating a new cover, I hope they make you wise enough to ask what you’re paying for.

One of the first covers I noticed.

The Kissing Booth web


Seventeen year old Beth Reekles

banked a huge three book deal.



And yet didn’t land original cover art.


Is this making sense to anyone?






I’m wondering how many photos are out there of these two?

The Trouble With Flirting





The Laughing Corpse. Web




The eyes have it here.




And here!

Dark Mortal Eyes






Turn it the other way.

Pandora's Mistake Web






Crop it, that’s sure to help.

Distraction Web

No one will notice.

Promise You Won't Tell




                   Or maybe they will.









Tur Cover



I loved this cover when it came out.

So cool, so blue.



Scattered Heart Web

And so popular!








Looking for more, don’t worry, there are hundreds of them out there. Pay attention and find your own, or for the instant gratification types Goodreads has a nice list here.

And if you’re in the market for a new cover, check out this link for The Book Designer. Here you can find some tips for figuring out what you’re paying for when buying cover art.


Author: Robin Rivera

Robin trained as a professional historian and worked as a museum curator, educator, and historical consultant. She writes mystery fiction, with diverse characters and a touch of snark. She's currently working on two new manuscripts that started off as NaNoWriMo projects. You can follow her on Facebook( However, Pinterest ( is where her inner magpie is happiest of all.

7 thoughts on “Book Cover Art: Did You Get What You Paid For?”

  1. I published a memoir with a hybrid publisher using their designer with my home photo. Our contract has expired and I would like to self publish it. I see nothing in the contract saying I don’t own my book cover, but when asking for the file I was told the cover wasn’t mine. It’s very unique and extremely eye-catching. Not sure how to find out.

    1. Hi Mandy,
      Most publishing companies want to keep the designs even if they no longer publish the books. However, your situations sounds unique in that you gave them permission to use your photo. You should check with a lawyer. You may still own the photo rights even if you don’t own the cover layout. Good luck. I hope everything works out for you.

  2. I’ve seen this before, too! I’ve seen the same images on indie books and traditionally published books. The sad part is, even if you go out and buy your stock images from Istock or Shutterstock, you don’t have exclusive rights to them. I think the only way to combat it is to have an illustrator draw something for you or commission a photographer to capture the image you want. Otherwise, I think we’ll be seeing this for a very long time.

    1. Hi Quanie,
      It’s all about knowing what you’re paying for. Is the art work yours or not? If you don’t even know to ask the questions you could be in for a shock down the road. Thanks for stopping by and for sharing your thoughts.

We love comments and questions.

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