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1130481_99649363valentinebytnineketinI’m in the process of figuring out how I’m going to deal with the various aspects of self-publishing. I’ve found a venue (Smashwords, with a possibility of limited print editions through CreateSpace). I’ve found an editor. Now I’m trying to figure out cover art, and I’ve hit a snag. Not a wall, but a significant snag that’s been gnawing at my mind for a while.

Most stock photo sites, credit and free, have a no-obscenity or no-pornography clause in their Terms of Service. Do other people usually care about this? Not really, because I’m probably one of five people who reads TOSs because I’ve learned to be paranoid.

Now, with stock photos a complicated matter, and having no Illustrator skills of my own, that leaves me with a few options, none of them ideal.

1) Create the covers entirely on my own through my own photography and props, plus my mad Photoshop skillz (not really, but I’m no bad shakes at it). Hello, minimalism and symbolism, which I wanted anyway. It’s a possibility, limited by my photography and Photoshop skills, but I think it’s doable. Bonus: The only cost would be the props, which as long as they don’t have logos are mine to use as I please.

2) Contact the stock photo artists for permission to use their images in a work of explicit, erotic fiction, providing a blurb if they require. Now, I doubt many of them would mind or see erotica as obscene or pornography, and based on the e-mail trail I could create from that, they probably wouldn’t have legal standing to tell me that I used their art in a certain way and for certain content without their permission.

I have a minimalist cover idea I could make myself that would go great with some of the images I’ve found there. This could help me set the stage for a minimalistic style for my DIY book covers, one that’s really good for e-books.

3) Contact non-stock artists such as those on Deviant Art and Etsy for use (paid, of course, for a flat fee, with an option of a secondary payment if I go to print) of their photography or artwork for a work of explicit, erotica fiction, either as part of the cover or as the cover in its entirety (for me to add the title later).

Deviant Artists probably would mind less than Etsy artists. At the same time, we bring to the table the problem of distribution of another person’s image and whether I would need that person’s permission or whether the artist has the written consent to distribute the image as they see fit. I have several awesome cover ideas for this option, but some of them have a person’s image in them.

Like option 2, this could help me set a certain style for Aurelia T. Evans’s self-published covers, one that I believe would have greater versatility than option 2 and would be absolutely gorgeous, but would be more complicated as e-book thumbnails. That would take some additional effort to work out. Plus, support for indie artists.

Now, the biggest issue with option 2 and 3 is my intense reluctance to contact people I don’t know and the fear of rejection and being shamed or ridiculed for writing erotica. I’m probably making mountains out of molehills here, but just the thought of sending out the convos makes my stomach twist. Regardless, it’s important for me to remember two things: 1) I have options and 2) I have a support system of friends.