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Bookcover thoughts

I have been approached by a book publisher who is interested in
using one of my pieces on a book cover. It looks like a prestigious
company from their website, although I am not familiar with them. I
would get full credit on the inside cover of the book and inside the
book itself. Should I expect/ask for payment? Or just be happy they
chose me and enjoy the free publicity?

Laura Cowan
Judaica designer and silversmith

Well I must be really new at this. I would pay them!! Actually a
very nice lady put a glass pendant I made in a book she wrote on
beading patterns. And I sent her another pendant as a thank you. It
was in the middle of the book and she had woven the pendant into a
beaded bag - and it was difficult to see. But I was still flattered.

Linda (Glass Fuser and beginner silver solderer)

Laura, No reputable publisher would expect to use your piece without
paying you some form of royalty/consideration. Don’t expect it to be
large, but do expect it.

If you are providing the photo of the piece, you should expect your
compensation to explicitly include a royalty fee, based on sales,
for the use of the photo (assuming that you are the rights-owner on
the photo).

If you are simply providing them with the piece and they are having
it photographed for their use, then you are “licensing” them the
rights to that single image of your piece. You should negotiate
that you will receive a reproducible copy of the resulting image
that you can use in your own publicity campaigns without paying them
a fee.

In either case, you should definitely expect a full credit,
including contact on the inside cover or other
appropriate location AND inclusion on the copyright page (don’t
forget to include the copyright of your piece!).

Hope this helps!
Karen Goeller

In my humble (but, not very humble) opinion, if you have checked the
bona fides of the publisher, and found them to be legit, LET THEM
USE THE PIECE ! ! ! If you make sure that you get a credit with full
contact (get that in writing,) it would be valuable
publicity for you. If you ask for payment, you might scare them
off, and they could easily find someone else’s work.

It isn’t as if they commissioned the piece. It’s done, and it could
be good public relations for you. David Barzilay, Lord of the Rings

Should I expect/ask for payment? Or just be happy they chose me
and enjoy the free publicity? 

laura - ‘yes’ to the first of your questions, you should ask for
payment: professionals expect payment for use or sale of their
product. as to the second question, other professionals expect to
pay for using your product; they may be counting on you to be
gratuitously grateful for the exposure but payment is the best way
to separate the wannabes from the pros - on both sides of the
transaction. plus if they plan to do the camera work at their locale
before you release the item insist on insurance (equal to the sale
price of your piece) from your door, back to your door, AND a
’nailed down’ date certain for return of your item at which time
they will either return it or pay for it. wear a constant smile and
be pleasant as though “well, how could you pros think otherwise
about paying this pro?”. this is as good a time as any to get tough
to avoid regret later. good luck - ive

Hello Everyone, It is a feather in one’s cap to have such an offer
submitted or proposed to you. In this time of appreciation, one
must step back and look carefully at what is being offered.

What is this company going to give you in writing? How many issues
will your image grace this company’s covers? If you say yes to this
one without a contract, does this mean that they will have the right
to use your image any time this company wants to in any manner it
wants to?

Some song writers become very rich because every time a singer sings
his or her song, the song writer is paid a royalty fee. Dolly Parton
has written over 3000 songs that has made her very rich according to
Oprah. With Whitney singing the main song in the movie the “Body
Guard”, I Will Always Love You. Dolly will always get a percentage of
that song every time a singer sings it, because that song is hers,
she wrote it, and is paid royalties every time it is sung. One of
the main reasons we see less of this song we all know “Happy
Birthday” used in a movies because in the last decade, the song
writer sued the studio and won. Every time a studio places that song
in their movie, they will have to pay royalties to the song writer in
order to have the right to use it; only in that one movie.

What is the difference with your designs? How many books will it go
into? How much marketing and demographic coverage will this company
give you with the sale of this book? You said you are not familiar
with this company, perhaps it is time to research them before saying

How long has this company been in business? How large is their
market? What type of guarantee will they give you to protect your
designs? If you go for free publicity, you may want to think about
having this publisher place an order card for your jewelry as an
insert in the book? How many other trade industry people will take
your design, modify it, and call it theirs? Write the Pro’s and
Con’s list of what you want this to accomplish. Before making
sudden decision, look to see what you will gain from this venture.

I can only say that if it were me, I would definitely get something
in writing that will allow them to use the pictures of my designs in
a limited way: say only for this book cover. Anything beyond this
on production run, I would sit down and talk seriously about money
in a contract that your lawyer should read.

As for free publicity, a person can capture quite a bit of it if he
or she is willing to “Give” their jewelry pieces away. How many
people watch the nightly news cast on TV in your area? Which
station has the highest rating of viewers? Here in Hawaii, at the
end of the news the credits list who made the shirts, dresses, and
outfits the news anchors wore. They list the company that supplied
them with jewelry accessories.

Talk to your news stations managers and find out if you submitted a
Press Release and wanted to gift the anchors and don’t forget the
manager who says “Yes, that would be fine”, for that station’s
anchors to wear some jewelry pieces while filming the news. Make
your pieces unique just for the anchors and tie it into your regular
jewelry, then cover that aspect in the Press Release. Many people
like to wear something no one else has which makes the wearer unique
and helps him or her to stand out in a crowd or on the TV.

If you do this, make certain you place a tape in every recorder you
have in the house, why? Because you can use that small snip-it to
your great advantage.

Well, I don’t know if I have made things more complicated or easier.
What matters is that your prized possessions, your jewelry designs
need to be protected. The Press Relase was just to inform you that
you can get free coverage if your jewelry is accepted, the Press
Release is vivid and has tight writing, and pointing out that the
news people will get a special design, may get you a large audience
than that book publisher. If the publisher is going to print
100,000 copies and the news stations has 300,000 viewers nightly,
decide which is the best and safest coverage for you.

Please take care, take your time in your decision, make sure you
protect yourself, and have a great life to you and every one who has
read this posting.


Well, you’ve gotten pretty much the full range of possible
responses. My contribution is a personal anecdote.

Quite some years ago, when I was in and then out of graduate school,
I supported myself doing free-lance art work, mostly drawing. I did
a lot of drawings to be used in psych studies for grad students. A
couple of these ended up published, without my permission even being

Fast forward, oh, 25 years. Earlier this year, I got a call from a
publisher to use two drawings in a textbook. I asked how much they
would be paying. I was told that I needed to fill out and submit a
"proposal" listing my fee. I asked what the usual rate was, and the
voice said, “Oh, I don’t usually work with visuals. Maybe $100,
$150?” I asked, each, or for both? She said “both”. So, when the
form came, I filled in the blank “$250 plus two copies of the book”
(I took the attribution for granted, and would never have expected
contact info in a psych text). A month or so later, I got the books,
and the next week the check.

To me, the moral is, if it’s good enough to put on the cover, they
will most likely expect to pay. It won’t scare them off to ask what
you should expect to be paid. It probably won’t scare them off to be
asked for a bit more than they offer-- they can just say no. And be
sure to include a couple copies (at least) of the book. Past two,
they may charge you wholesale cost, but it’s still a lot cheaper
than going to the bookstore. Good luck!


Well, I have absolutely no experience in the book publishing realm,
so I can’t tell you what is typical in cases such as this. But my
thought would be to ask for payment. I think the worst that would
happen is the editor/publisher will say, “No, we aren’t offering any
payment.” What they won’t do is huffily withdraw the offer to put
your piece on the cover. They’ve already invested time and energy to
select your piece, and they’re not going to take offense if you ask
politely about payment. This is a business, after all. I would
think it falls into the same category as the negotiations that follow
a job offer: the offer is made, and you ask for more money. Maybe you
get it, maybe you don’t, but no one withdraws the job offer just
because you asked for more money! What you do if they say “no” is up
to you. You can refuse to permit them to use the piece without
payment, and see if they come up with some cash. (They might, if they
really want your piece, and the process is pretty far along. Or they
might go to Plan B, and pick someone else.) Or you can say, “ah,
well… I’d hoped you would be able to offer some type of payment, but
I guess the publicity alone will be beneficial” and give your
permission. Others have suggested other courses to follow. It’s
entirely up to you.

If you do decide to go ahead and give permission without payment,
ask for copies of the book, permission to use an image of the cover
in your marketing materials, and anything else you can think of. (If
they’re getting away with using your image for free, they should leap
at the chance to make you happy this way.) Then when the book is
published, send out your own press releases to the trades, your local
publications (including newspapers) and as many consumer publications
as you think appropriate, pointing out the presence of your piece on
the cover. You may or may not get an article about the book or your
piece, but being on the cover of a serious publication confers
instant legitimacy to your work, and it makes a great news hook to
grab an editor’s attention. From there, you never know what might
happen! And if you’re going to give permission to use your work for
the publicity anyway, you should plan to make the most of it! (The
publisher of the book should be VERY supportive, because any
publicity you get is publicity for his book as well!)

By the way, congratulations!

Suzanne Wade
Phone: (508) 339-7366
Fax: (928) 563-8255

If they put your name associated with the jewelery, you can’t ask
for any better advertising.

Thanks for the replies to my bookcover post. Its a directed at a
niche market and they expect to sell 3,000-10,000 so we are not
talking about mega bucks. I have asked what there payment policy is
and I am waiting for a reply.

you should definitely expect a full credit,  including contact
on the inside cover or other appropriate location AND
inclusion on the copyright page (don't forget to include the
copyright of your piece!) 

How do I copyright a piece? How do I include a copyright of my
piece? I had a look in the orchid archives but didn’t find anything.

Laura Cowan
Judaica designer and silversmith

Hi! I was once told that putting a signed photograph or photocopy of
a piece in an envelope and sending it to yourself by post is a good
idea. Don’t open the envelope, keep it sealed and file it somewhere.
I don’t know if this copyrights it officially, but at least then you
have a record and a date of when the piece was ‘yours’.

I was once told that putting a signed photograph or photocopy of a
piece in an envelope and sending it to yourself by post is a good
idea. Don't open the envelope, keep it sealed and file it
somewhere. I don't know if this copyrights it officially, but at
least then you have a record and a date of when the piece was

I’m afraid this is an old wives tale. It was originally thought this
would be the ‘poor mans’ way to establish legal right to a design.
Although I can’t cite the cases, it’s been challenged in court
several times & lost every time. So I’ve been told by an attorney
involved in patent & copyright law.


Laura, Technically, under U.S. law your piece is copyrighted the
instant it is created. (An idea can’t be copyrighted, only the actual
creation.) You don’t have to register a copyright for it to exist.
However, in a case like this, I’d suggest that it’s a good idea to
register your copyright with the U.S. Patent Office. You can do this
yourself: It’s pretty simple. (Even the lawyers will tell you that
you can do it yourself, so it MUST be simple!) The fee for copyright
registration is $30.

You can download Form VA (for visual arts) with or without
instructions at There’s lots of other
about copyrights there, as well.

BTW, registering a copyright is the ONLY way you can collect most of
the damages provided by law in the event of copyright infringement.
Mailing it to yourself, and the rest of the old methods, do NOT give
you full access to everything the legal system has to offer (such as
it is). Realistically, in a court of law they’re pretty much
worthless. If you’re concerned about a design being copied, you’re
better off spending the $30 and registering with the U.S. Copyright

Suzanne Suzanne Wade Writer/Editor Phone: (508) 339-7366 Fax: (928)
563-8255 @Suzanne_Wade1

If you go to the website, you can download an application for
copyriting music, writing, designs, etc… The average cost per
application is $35. Make sure only one persons name is listed as the
designer or creater, or else the fee increases for each name listed.
My wife and I have a few copyrited songs we’ve written. I believe the
process is basically the same for jewelry designs, although I have
never copyrited any jewelry pieces before, just music. I wish I had
though, as I have seen some things pictured in various trade
magazines over the years that I had designed years previous, either
drawn or completed. I know that noone stole them from me tho, as I’m
not exactly in the middle of the fashion capital of the world in
Kokomo Indiana. Just someone else had the same idea as me at a
different time, and had the foresight to make it official. Ed

    register your copyright with the U.S. Patent Office. You can
do this 

Actually with the U.S. Library of Congress Copyright Office. The
rest of the post was excellent and correct.

James E. White

A copyright is the creators as soon as the object is created.(work
for hire is different) Registering a copyright by mailing yourself a
photo will not work. registering a “body” of work may also be an
option, ie 2003 rings. The registering has become easyer. Find a
lawyer or at least the copyright office website.


I know that noone stole them from me tho, as I'm not exactly in the
middle of the fashion capital of the world in Kokomo Indiana. Just
someone else had the same idea as me at a different time, and had
the foresight to make it official. Ed 

Ed, take heart – registering a copyright wouldn’t have helped, in
that case. Unlike patents and trademarks, copyright does not protect
you from someone else doing the same thing – only from actually
copying your designs. As I understand it, one of the things you have
to prove in a copyright lawsuit is that the copier had access to your
designs, and therefore copied you. If he merely had the idea at the
same time, you’re out of luck. When it receives an application, the
Copyright Office makes NO effort to be sure no one else has
copyrighted a similar design, unlike the procedure with patents and
trademarks. (Which is probably why a copyright is so much simpler and
cheaper to get.) They leave who did what, when, and whether it
constitutes infringement to the courts to sort out. Of course, if the
other guy registered a copyright, and you didn’t, there’s a
possibility that the courts will come to the conclusion that YOU must
have copied HIM! If you want to defend a design in court, you should
always register your copyright with the Copyright Office.

Oh, and thank you, James, for pointing out that the U.S. Copyright
Office is part of the Library of Congress. You’re absolutely correct
– I always think of patent, trademark, and copyright in the same
sentence, so I think the government should as well! But the
bureaucrats have decreed otherwise… although at least the patent
office does include a link to the copyright office on its Web site!
(I guess I’m not the only one who gets confused!)

And just a final word of caution: Folks, be sure to check the law as
it applies in YOUR country. Although there are international
conventions regarding copyright, they are far from comprehensive.
What may work to register a copyright in one country – be it mailing
to yourself or marking a piece with the date and a c-circle or
whatever – may not be acknowledged as valid by the courts in
another country. Don’t take someone else’s word for it (unless it is
your lawyer’s) – look up the law for yourself! In addition,
copyright offices often provide excellent FAQs and brochures
outlining the law in plain English (or French, or German, or Swahili,
or whatever your native language is), and if they don’t, jewelry
trade associations often do, so it’s usually easy to learn what you
need from an authority on the topic. (In the U.S., Manufacturing
Jewelers and Suppliers of America and the Jewelers Vigilance
Committee are good sources of ) Don’t settle for “I
heard” – if “I heard” is wrong, you’ll only find out when you have
to take someone to court and your lawyer tells you you don’t have a
prayer of winning…

Suzanne Suzanne Wade Writer/Editor Phone: (508) 339-7366 Fax: (928)
563-8255 @Suzanne_Wade1