Author Website Design: Can I Incorporate Any Photos I Find on the Net?

Avoid copyright violation when it comes to author website designWhen it comes to author website design, copyright issues are a major concern. This is particular 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.

Cover Yourself by Knowing Your Cover Rights

Okay, so your publisher has commissioned a beautiful book cover, and you think the artwork is exactly right. It’s 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.

Typically, the publisher commissions the art or photography for a specific use: the book cover. Any further use may incur additional fees, and most publishers aren’t going to cough up the extra money, not so you can use it as a website design theme. (You might want to pay for the use, but you’re almost always better off developing a complementary design theme.)

How to Communicate Clearly with Your Author Website Team

2shutterstock_81154963A 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.

Enough Is Enough: What to Put on Your Author site

Back in the 90s when the Net was just becoming more than a fun curiosity, I worked with a startup that sought to distribute education information online and somehow turn a profit.  We had ongoing spirited debates about what web elements would eventually put the enterprise in the black or make it appealing to investors. Was it content? Community (pre-social media)? Ecommerce? Some next big thing no one had thought of yet (like social media)?

It’s Your Story; Tell It Well

“What makes for a good author website?” prospective clients often ask me.

There are the obvious elements: A good author website should be like a grand hotel room. The location of every amenity and necessity should be obvious and easy to find. It should be engaging for book buyers and media friendly–a one-stop go-to spot that can give reporters and producers all the information they need. Elegant design and a little razzle dazzle never hurts either.

But let’s go beyond the wrapper. What about the soul of a great site? That’s the real differentiator. And that’s a much more difficult element to articulate than design and information architecture.