Selling photos for book covers

I always asked myself how other photographers are selling photos for book covers.I already sell my images on many stock photography agencies. I never found my images printed on a book, only on ebooks covers. Also the rates  getting for selling on most stock photo agencies are very low for photographers.

When I started doing my research about this, I found out that most of the images on book covers come from photo stock agencies.Mostly Getty Images and others like Shutterstock, Fotolia. I just got to the local book store and looked through all the books, to see the supplier of the cover art. But there is more. There are a few agencies that have their focus of supplying high quality images for book covers. The one that I have signed a contract with is Arcangel Images  . I was surprised to see that a lot of cover art on book covers comes from Arcangel Images. A  small agency compared with the big ones like Getty Images or Shutterstock. Arcangel has over 300.000 images in their collection. Compare this number with 91 million images that Shutterstock have for instance. Then ask yourself this question: Where my work has better chance to be seen? on an agency that have 91 million images or 300.000 images ?


When I started to look into Arcangel Images I notice that a lot of creative photographers, small and big are selling their work there. There are not many photographers contributing on Arcangel compared with other agencies where they have hundreds of thousands of contributors. They offer 50% of all sales made to the photographer. I’m contributing there for more than two months and my portfolio is growing bit by bit . I didn’t make any sales there yet but I know that day will come as my portfolio is growing. Arcangel is trying to secure the best fees possible and as they are stating  ” …we don’t sell images at bargain basement prices ”. I’m looking forward to see how it will go for me on Arcangel. Images are sold on exclusively but you can also sell royalty free. I have 5 royalty free images out of 96 total images that I have currently on Arcangel.

Selling photos for book covers can be a little tricky. Specially as a new beginner in this kind of market. Another agency that I came across is Trevillion. Is similar to Arcangel. As most of my images are already on other stock photo agencies, it will take a while to grow a portfolio since the images must be exclusive.  That means you can’t sell those images on other agencies or license them yourself. The images are highly curated so don’t expect to get all of your images accepted. Also when your images get rejected you will not get a notification telling you the reason. That is kind of frustrating sometimes. It will take you a while to understand what kind of images they are after. Even though that can be understandable from the images they already have. The good thing about this agencies is that they pay more compared with the traditional stock agencies that most of the photographers know. Also their clients are mostly composed of known book publishing houses. They are more focused on this kind of market. Not like the rest, where anything goes. Where you sell your images for a few cents. If that is what your after, selling photos for book covers, then you should apply with this agencies. As I understood, Arcangel accepts amateur photographers and professionals. As they state on their page, you don’t need to be a photographer to have a professional attitude.

If you have any questions, post a comment bellow.


If you want to join Arcangel you can do that here. 

As a photographer, my goal is to create beautiful imagery. I discovered that I can’t stop learning. It’s always something new that you can learn in photography. In my journey, I hope that I can teach others a few little things about photography and photo editing. I’m the author and the creator of this website.

6 comments On Selling photos for book covers

  • Wow! Very interesting article! Thank you Tudor! So what about your relations with Arcangel and Trevillion? Are you happy enough? 🙂

    • Your welcome! On Arcangel I am still building my portfolio. Hope all turns out good. Ill be more happy when im going to sell images there 🙂 . Thanks for the comment!

  • Just coming across this a few years later, I’m curious to know if you’ve made some decent sales with Arcangel by now and how large your portfolio is with them? I’ve just joined early this year and am plugging away at submitting images, and always curious to hear how its going for others!

    • Hello! unfortunately I did not sell anything for 2 years…i have 300 images there. They are rejecting a lot so i stopped submitting. Is hard to create a portfolio there since the images need to be exclussive. Hope you get lucky… I wasn’t.

    • As I can see from your portfolio you might have a big chance to succeed there. The thing is that you need to grow your portfolio there by uploading regularly. You have that kind of style of images that they are actually searching for. I wish you good luck!

  • Hey there, thanks a bunch! I’ve made a single sale within the first year. I’ve slowed down this year on submitting and am considering/exploring other ways to do licensing where i’m not giving away exclusive rights to just one company. But for now, I’m sticking with them until i get my next plan together. Thanks for the encouragement!

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