When it comes to author website design, copyright issues are a major concern. This is particularly true when it comes to choosing photos. Clients often ask if it’s fair game to snag a photo from the Internet and use it on their website or blog. I’m not an intellectual property lawyer, but I can tell you with confidence that if you violate someone’s copyright, there are likely to be consequences. Penalties can range from a takedown notice to a lawsuit seeking substantial damages. As a general rule, assume an image found online is subject to copyright and unavailable to use to promote your book without securing the appropriate permission.
The Rules for Sending Emails in Spammy Times
CAN-SPAM (“Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act”) is a law that the U.S. Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed into law in 2003. The Act is meant to help guide creators of email marketing campaigns and newsletters to be honest and upfront with their unsolicited commercial email messages. Although this is an American law, several countries have very similar laws. For example, Canada’s is called CASL (Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation) and came into effect in 2014.
The Camera Doesn’t Lie—But Photoshop Can
Some aspects of creating an author website are like doing a fandango in a minefield, and few elements are as touchy as the official author photo. All authors want to look their best, and they should. The website is likely to be their first point of contact with the outside world. The photo, along with the overall tone of the site, says a lot about the author’s brand. But “looking your best” is a tricky, subjective concept and can create diplomatic challenges for the web designer.
In the U.K., there’s a movement starting: Brits are converting abandoned post-industrial buildings to bookstores!
According to a 2014 post in Atlas Obscura, “By filling empty storefronts with used and antiquarian bookshops, and hosting literary festivals, the goal is to attract new visitors in the form of bibliophiles.”
The trend continues on this side of the pond; indie bookshops are staging a comeback as well, in spite of the rise of online bookselling.
What the Numbers Say:
- Sales at all book shops: up 2.5 percent in 2015
- Sales at independent books shops: up 10 percent in 2015
*Note: this post isn’t focused on writing great books. The focus is on marketing great books!
Every day I hear prickly, sometimes even angry authors, discussing the evils of book marketing:
“Blogging is a waste of time. I could be writing.”
“Social media doesn’t result in sales, so forget it. Not worth it.”
“Author platform is just a dumb term some bean dip in a suit made up. Next year they’ll call it something else.”
Oh, dear. Let’s deconstruct.
Why Photo Copyright is a Major Concern
When it comes to author website design, copyright issues are a major concern. This is particularly true when it comes to choosing photos; clients often ask if it’s fair game to snag a photo from the Internet and use it on their website or blog. I’m not an intellectual property lawyer, but I can tell you with 100 percent confidence that if you violate someone’s copyright and you’re caught, there may be consequences. Penalties can range from a takedown notice to a lawsuit seeking damages.
Okay, so your publisher has commissioned a beautiful book cover, and you think the artwork is exactly right. What a designer needs to get started on building your author website. You know that the cover art will look lovely on the homepage, and the designer can build the site around various elements based on the overall color, textures and theme. That’s fine, right?
Maybe. Or maybe not.
A very successful businessperson I met years ago told me, “Clarity is the bane of management consulting.” He should know, as he was a super successful management consultant himself.
Well, that may be true for his line of work, but the polar opposite holds true when it comes to dealing with your web team—clarity is the Holy Grail. While there are lots of things that author website design companies and clients can do to drive each other nuts (and we, at AuthorBytes, are certainly guilty of a number of them), lack of clarity is the root of many of the thornier problems.