5 Tips For Including Images In A Self-Published Book | Self-Publishing Relief

by | Book Cover Design | 3 comments

At Self-Publishing Relief, we know there are many types of books that benefit greatly by having interior images: Children’s books, cookbooks, reference books, coffee table books, and graphic novels are just a few.

Most novels and short story collections just don’t need pictures. And if you include color images in a self-published book, it directly affects how much you have to charge for it—which, in most cases, will price your book right out of the market. Black-and-white photos or illustrations probably won’t cause this problem, but the images can still be difficult to work with, especially in electronic formats. Besides, part of the fun of reading fiction is using our imaginations to picture the action, right?

But what if you’ve written a poetry collection or novel that you feel really requires images to provide a fully satisfying experience for your readers? Or what if you want to self-publish a how-to book? Self-Publishing Relief suggests you keep these five tips in mind as you proceed.

Tips For Including Images In Self-Published Books

Use black-and-white images. As already mentioned, including color photos or drawings in your book can be expensive and dramatically increase the price you charge for your book. For example, if you’re using CreateSpace and enroll in the Expanded Distribution program, you will have to charge at least $8.25 per copy for a 200-page book with 5.5” x 8.5” trim size and black-and-white interior (including images). For a full-color version of that same book—even if you have only one color picture in the whole interior—you will have to charge over $37 per copy! Will your potential readers pay that kind of money for the book you’re offering? If not, and if black and white will suffice for your purposes, you’re wise to choose that option.

Keep the number of images to a minimum. Some companies—including Self-Publishing Relief—charge additional per-image fees, because formatting a book with images takes longer and is more complicated. Be sure to ask up front for a clear explanation of these fees. And if you need to keep costs down, include only the images you feel are indispensable.

Understand the limitations of print-on-demand photo quality. The print-on-demand process cannot duplicate the quality of offset printing. Some companies do better than others, but usually they also cost more. Weigh the pros and cons of putting images in your book: Is it really worth it?

Make sure you have the required rights or licenses. It might seem obvious, but just because a picture is on the Internet doesn’t mean you can use it in your book. If you are using artwork or photography produced by someone else, avoid copyright infringement headaches by procuring the rights/licenses you need for your project and its projected sales. This includes images purchased from stock art companies. Make sure you completely understand their terms before publishing the photo or drawing in your book.

Find a self-publishing company that specializes in color images. Traditional publishing is probably a better route for a book of color photography, for example. But if you’re self-publishing, choose a company that specializes in color images and perhaps has its own printing facility and paper options.

Whether or not to include images in the interior of your book is a decision based on many factors, including genre and budget. But for any book, whether traditionally published or self-published, the most important visual element is what’s on the front cover. Give your cover the attention it needs in order to avoid common mistakes and maximize its book-selling potential.


Question: Have you included images in your self-published books? If so, share your wisdom in the comments!


  1. Ellen

    I am self-publishing a memoir. Some old photos of relatives seem in order. Beyond those and a map and family tree, I’m wondering whether 2 or 3 more recent images will help or detract. So I’m very glad to read other people’s perspectives or experience, especially in the memoir genre.

  2. Kevin Ekstrom

    I have taken hundreds of photos of individual vinyl records from my album collection. Am I allowed to use these images in a book?

    • SPR Staff

      Hi Kevin,

      That’s going to depend on multiple factors, so you may want to consult with someone who is well-versed in copyright law to be sure. Unfortunately we are not qualified to give direct legal advice for individual situations.


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