How can you expand the possibilities of book cover images with AI? What are some of the controversies and how can authors and designers work together with AI tools to create original design? Book cover designer Damon Freeman discusses his views.
There are lots of links in the show notes below to specific resources, but of course, the AI space moves fast, so always check the Terms and Conditions of any site you want to investigate further. I also mention the free webinar on AI Ads for Authors with Mark Dawson and James Blatch.
Today’s show is sponsored by my wonderful patrons who fund my brain so I have time to think about and discuss these futurist topics impacting authors. If you support the show, you also get the extra monthly patron-only Q&A audio — and my tutorial on how I use Midjourney. You can support the show at www.patreon.com/thecreativepenn
Damon Freeman is the founder and creative director of Damonza.com, creating custom book cover design and interior formatting for authors.
You can listen above or on your favorite podcast app or read the notes and links below. Here are the highlights and the full transcript is below.
- Using AI tools as part of the creative process
- How Midjourney works
- Discussion on copyright
- How AI tools are enabling the creation of unique cover images that have been almost impossible before
- If AI will be able to do everything, how will creatives make a living?
- Tips for working with your cover designer and incorporating AI
- Damon has some great articles on AI images in book covers here, and he also mentions James at GoOnWrite who has an article for self-published authors around AI and images here.
You can find Damon at Damonza.com.
Transcript of Interview with Damon Freeman
Joanna: Damon Freeman is the founder and creative director of Damonza.com, creating custom book cover design and interior formatting for authors. So welcome to the show, Damon.
Damon: Thank you, Joanna. Thanks for having me. I appreciate the opportunity to chat. I’m really looking forward to it.
Joanna: Oh, me too. So we’re going to talk specifically about AI images as part of the design process today. But first up—
Tell us a bit more about you, your design background, and how you’ve been working with authors for over a decade.
Damon: I trained as a graphic designer, and I was working in normal graphic design businesses.
I started my own company as a general kind of graphic designer many, many years ago. Over time—you know, it was going pretty well—but in around 2007, with the global financial crisis and all of those kinds of things, kind of everything just started falling apart, and it wasn’t going well. Out of desperation, I started looking at other potential opportunities.
I found a website, which maybe you’ve heard of or some of the authors, have called 99designs.com. I started pitching different kinds of design work on there to try and earn a bit of extra income. One of the kinds of work projects I was pitching on was obviously book covers, and I started getting quite a good rate on the covers.
So as you may know, they only pay the designers that they select they work for. So you might be doing graphic design work, and you put in all the effort, and then your cover doesn’t get picked, and that’s it. So I found I was getting quite a good win rate for book covers, so I just started doing a few more of them. Eventually, it just sort of took over.
I stopped my normal day job, and I just started focusing exclusively on book covers. That was in about 2010 or so. So in 2011, I started the website, Damonza.com. It was just me doing book covers, and I was fortunate in that because of the way I’d done things before, I had quite an extensive portfolio of book covers. So I put them up on a website, and for a while the website existed, but nothing happened. Just slowly, slowly, I started picking up work and picking up authors and picking up clients.
Eventually it grew quite a lot that I had to start looking at how I could service all of these clients. So I brought in somebody that used to work for me before as a graphic designer, and she started helping with the book covers, and it slowly grew from there. Now I oversee a team of designers, and we’ve got project managers, and the designers we work with are all over the world, but have been working with me, many of them, for seven or eight years now. We’re a happy team, work well together.
I still oversee all the work that goes out. Occasionally I’ll do some of the designs myself. If it’s a tricky one, then I might choose to do it myself. But generally, the designers that I’ve got working for me are amazing, often producing work that is much better than what I could do.
Joanna: That’s brilliant. Do you have any idea how many book covers would you have done since you started Damonza?
Damon: Well over 10,000.
Joanna: Right. That’s what I thought because I know you’ve been in the space for a long time, we’ve been connected for a long time, although we’ve never spoken before today, so this is quite cool.
Clearly, you’re really experienced, the team is experienced, and yet some would say like, why are you so interested in AI? I mean, you’ve got loads of skills.
Why did you want to explore AI when it has been—well, still is—pretty contentious in the art community and the author community?
Damon: Well, initially, what happened was that one of the designers on the team, she had noticed that on some of the stock image websites, we use Shutterstock, and she had noticed on Shutterstock that there were new kinds of images cropping up.
They all kind of had, I guess, they had a distinctive look to them, but they were really interesting. They were kind of unusual. They weren’t normal. They weren’t like a photograph, and they didn’t really look like a 3D rendering. They were kind of something in between.
She just told me, she’d found Midjourney, and she said, “Look at these images. This is the software. This is the program that’s being used to create these images.” I looked into it and she wanted to know now, can she use Midjourney to create images. So not really knowing how any of it worked, right, seeing that it was AI, but not really knowing how it worked.
I checked the terms and conditions, and I saw, alright, fine. If you pay, you get a commercial license, and you can use these images.
So I said sure, we’ll get the license and she can use them. Really, in the beginning, it was just backgrounds and landscapes and those kinds of things. I guess earlier on people and those kinds of images, they didn’t look very good. So it was kind of just small bits and pieces we started using, and that was it.
So at the time it wasn’t contentious, right? It was just another place to get images that we could license.
Joanna: But obviously, it went on from there because things have moved really fast. I mean, I also got on Midjourney. So we’re recording this August 2023, so important to timestamp these AI episodes.
But when I got on Midjourney about a year ago, as you said, there was the joke around fingers and photos having weird stuff, and where we are now, it’s like a completely different world in terms of how far it’s come.
Tell us what are the different ways that you’re using AI tools now as part of the creative process.
How have things changed, I guess, over the last year? How have things moved on?
Damon: Yeah. So I mean, I guess what happened was that we still weren’t using it that much, right, for quite a long time. It was really just the one designer, and you couldn’t really tell where she was using it. It wasn’t sort of obvious, it was always maybe a background or something like that. You couldn’t really tell.
What was happening was that it kind of became clear that it was getting better at what it was doing, and she was starting to question me more. Can she use it for this? Can she use it for that? And I started to kind of look into it more for a while, and they looked pretty good.
It was quite interesting, it was probably in the same week or two that I said, yeah, alright, we can start using this a bit more, that I received two emails in the same week from two authors who said, “Are you using AI images in our covers? And if you are, I don’t want you to.”
That’s how it happened. So we were barely using any AI images, and I hadn’t really thought about it. It had been in our terms and conditions from the beginning that we might use these AI images from Midjourney, but we hadn’t made it explicit that we were because we weren’t really.
So when that happened, I looked into it much more.
That’s when I also started doing a lot more research into generative AI and really trying to form my own opinions.
— on kind of, should we use it, what is it really, those kinds of things. I mean, that’s where I found a lot of your podcast, some of your articles. I found a great article, which I’ve referenced myself quite often, from James from GoOnWrite.com, really, really great. I thought it clarified things very, very well for me.
So that was the point where we immediately sent out something to all our authors, all the clients we work with, saying, “Look, we might be using this. We think we should use it. We like it. But if you don’t want to use it, we won’t.”
It was actually at that point that I then briefed in all the designers saying, look, this is how Midjourney works, and if it is suitable for a cover that you’re working on, then, you know, go for it.
These are the restrictions: Don’t mention a real person’s name, whether it’s an author or a named style.
So we don’t want to copy anyone or anything like that. But this could be a way to source images that are just not available as a stock photo.
The problem has always been that there are limited stock photos. Even though there are a lot of them, they are limited.
When you’re working on book covers, and certainly in particular genres, they start to get—I mean, we try not to reuse stock photos—but you start to see the same stock photos on many different covers, by different designers and different authors. So I kind of saw it as a way to differentiate a book cover.
We started to come up with designs that we never could have come up with before just because those stock images didn’t exist.
So we started to use it more and more, and we made it much more explicit on the website. So we had the order form where you can opt out of the images. We put why we think you shouldn’t opt out of potentially using AI imagery, just because it exists doesn’t mean you have to use it, and we’ve kind of just gone from there.
Joanna: Lots of things to unpack from that.
The first thing I want to address is you said there are limited stock photos, particularly in some genres. I love that you mentioned this because it’s like these tools create things that don’t exist.
So I have a cover, which is a female combat photographer, and there were no pictures of female combat photographers, like it’s just a male-dominated field. I mean, there are some, but they’re not represented.
Of course, people of color, people with disabilities, there’s a whole load of different people, let alone settings, that are not represented. So what are some of the things that you find amazing? I guess—
What are some of the brilliant things that you’ve been able to do because of AI art?
Damon: Well, we used to have an additional fee on our design work that we really tried to discourage authors from going with because it was very, very difficult, and it normally didn’t work out that well.
It was if they wanted to create a very specific character, to use your example, let’s say a female combat photographer, which on its own, we could possibly make work, but when you had this character, and she had to be in a specific position, maybe she’s lying on the ground taking this photo, and she’s wearing particular clothing, and she has a certain type of camera, or whatever it might be, those kinds of things to create using stock photos are impossible.
So we tried to discourage authors from, I guess, being that specific on what they wanted on their covers, and we did that by adding a character creation fee.
But really, what that meant was that we would sort of try Dr. Frankenstein style to cobble together a person out of different images. It’d have different one woman’s arm, another woman’s head, another woman’s body, another person lying down.
Joanna: It’s very time-consuming.
Damon: It’s very, very time-consuming, very, very difficult, and often, it doesn’t really work.
Stock photos are limited, the light is coming from one direction on one photo and it might be coming from a different direction on another photo, or the camera angle is a little bit too high or too low on one of these images. So it was very, very difficult.
Now, with generative AI, suddenly that’s not a problem anymore.
We can just generate an image that might not be exactly right, but instead of cobbling together five or six different images, maybe we can generate one or two, put them together, and incorporate a stock photo of a particular kind of camera, whatever it might be. That becomes much easier, which means we can do more with the cover, right, those kinds of things, and we want to charge an extra fee for it. So that’s a good example.
Another one is when certain kinds of covers, let’s say, action-thriller covers, where we must have designed 200 covers of a man in a suit running down the road.
Joanna: Oh, that old one?!
Damon: Yeah, we still get many, many authors, that’s what they want, that’s what they like. That has got a lot of excellent genre signals for potential readers. I get it. It’s great. We love it.
But they’re not that many stock photos of that kind of image. Maybe there’s 20, and even if there are 20, that’s not enough.
With generative AI, we can generate 10,000 different versions of that that all look different, and that are all original and have never been seen before.
Joanna: Let’s explain because some people listening may not have used Midjourney or any of these tools, or may not have seen a tutorial. Obviously, this is a visual tool, so it’s quite hard to explain.
But you did mention that you learned how Midjourney works, and you became happy with it from a creator perspective and an IP perspective.
You also mentioned the restrictions, not using a person’s name, an artist name, or a named style. Like Disney, like I always say this to people too, don’t use other people’s names, don’t use IP brands, just use your words.
Can you explain how Midjourney works to people who’ve never seen it and how you can generate 10,000 images just like that?
Damon: Yeah, well, I’ll first tell you the reason why, when I kind of investigated, why I personally do not think there are any ethical or copyright concerns with the way that it’s trained.
It’s quite specific—well, maybe it’s not—but I think it’s quite specific to what we do with book covers. When an author is briefing us on what they want, they give us examples of book covers they like. They might send us a Pinterest board or email us images of covers and movie posters, or they’ll send us a picture of Matthew McConaughey and they’ll say the main character looks like him, whatever it might be.
Now, those are copyrighted images, or they haven’t purchased those images to send to us, or whatever it might be, but they’re effectively training us, the designers, on what they want so that we can create a cover that’s inspired by those, but not copying those.
When I looked into Midjourney, that’s pretty much what it’s doing, albeit with millions of images, but it’s effectively the same thing. If I could look at millions of images at the same time, and I feel like I’ve looked at millions of book covers, and learned from them on how to create book covers, it kind of fit in with the same thing that we were doing. That is why I’ve never had an issue with it.
In terms of the way that Midjourney would work is that, as an example, let’s say it’s a man running through the streets.
So we might go into Midjourney or Discord, and we might say, “Imagine a cinematic film still of a man in a suit running down the street backlit in the streets of New York,” whatever it might be, and we’ll get four options of that that have never been seen before.
We might choose this one and make a few changes to it, we might make variations of that, or anything like that. So then we’ll get the output that we want.
Then we’ll have a man running down the streets, and we’ll put him on our cover, but there’ll be other elements to the novel that we will use stock photos for still, just because it’s more convenient, really, to find some kinds of images, an image of a street scene, for example, then to create an image of a street scene that takes a few seconds or a minute or two, but might not be right, and we have to keep doing until we get the right one. Sometimes it’s just easier to search for a stock photo.
We’re combining the generative AI images, the images created with Midjourney, with stock photos, and then incorporating text and whatever effects we might have, until ultimately we get a cover that we’re happy to present to the author.
Joanna: Yes, and like you mentioned, I think the ‘film still’ or ‘movie still,’ I use that for quite a lot of my prompts that I’m doing for ads, for example, because they’re really thriller movie still, two people running with the Vatican in the background.
Although I’ve tried things like the Vatican or St. Peter’s dome blowing up, and it doesn’t like that! So there are definitely some restrictions.
As you say, it’s a collaborative process, in that this is what I also do with my designer, Jane Dixon Smith. I used to send her, like you said, pictures of other people’s covers, and say, these are the things that I think resonate with the book.
[Here’s an example from my horror novella, Catacomb. I made the 2 images in Midjourney, and my designer Jane used them in the final cover on the right.]
But now I use Midjourney, and I generate maybe 50 images of all different kinds, backgrounds, because I love using Midjourney! I find it so much fun. I find it like a really creative, fun process.
Then I say, this is my mood board, the mood board I created. Then what she’s doing is, as you said, using elements of those images, using some other things from stock, and also doing fonts. So it feels to me like a really collaborative process.
Can you just comment on the copyright of the output of the finished book cover compared to the copyright of a stock photo?
Damon: Right, so in the US, which is really where most of the authors are that we work with, you cannot copyright a book cover that’s been created with a stock photo because the photographer owns the copyright of those stock photos.
Those stock photos are being used by multiple people who are paying the license to use those images, so you can’t copyright a cover that’s been made with it. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve changed them, you’ve used that other person’s stock photos, in the US, and you can’t copyright it.
The same way, if you are using licensed fonts, those fonts belong to somebody else. You didn’t create those fonts, you can’t copyright the cover with those fonts and those images.
With generative AI images, it’s a little bit more of a gray area because, I believe, if you’ve made enough changes to it, then perhaps you can.
But we have never copyrighted any one of the 10,000 covers that we’ve designed, and we’ve never had to provide anything for any of our authors for them to do it. It’s just never come up.
At the end of the day, the readers are not buying the book cover. They’re buying the book. The cover is just an ad for the book. It’s just an advertisement for the book. So in my mind, it’s never been necessary to copyright a book cover. The product isn’t the cover, the product is the book, and the book is what can be, and should be, copyrighted.
Joanna: Well, I think there’s the license to use as a book cover is what we should say the authors have.
So when you, as a designer, when you license a stock image from Shutterstock, you have a commercial license to use that in a book cover, for example. So then you grant the author the right to use that as part of the payment for work. That’s basically how it has been working.
Then with Midjourney, as you said, if you pay for Midjourney, like $10 a month, whatever it is, $20 a month, you get the commercial license. [Check the Midjourney Terms and Conditions.]
Again, I think of it in the same way, which is, I don’t—even know some people say you do—I don’t think you have a copyright on that image, but just as you don’t have a copyright on the image from Shutterstock. You then combine those images into a composite, and that becomes the image that you use.
I think the difficulty for authors is that we don’t have legal training, and you’re not a lawyer either, right? Yeah, so these are difficult terms.
I feel like with the AI side, the word ‘copyright’ has become quite inflamed, and a lot of people don’t understand what lies behind it.
So I’m just going to point people to a couple of the interviews I’ve done before, including one with an intellectual property lawyer.
So we are not lawyers, we’re not commenting officially on this.
It’s also really different by country because here in the UK, we do have a copyright law that says works generated by machines, basically, are the copyright of the person who created them.
[ “In the case of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work which is computer-generated, the author shall be taken to be the person by whom the arrangements necessary for the creation of the work are undertaken. — UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 ]
So have you looked into this in New Zealand?
Damon: No, I haven’t. At the end of the day, we look at the terms and conditions of the stock photo sites we use and Midjourney.
Midjourney retains the right to use the images you create themselves. So it’s kind of difficult for the creator to have a copyright on it because they’re just taking the right to use the images. So although they could do it, people are generating millions and millions and millions of images a day, I don’t see that as an issue.
For us, and for anybody who has a paid Pro license, they really should be generating the images on a private server where nobody else can see them and no one else can use them. So the copyright itself, I mean, it’s kind of, in a sense, it’s worthless because what is anybody going to do with it.
Once you can start creating any image you want, why would you need to copy somebody else’s?
Joanna: That’s how I think about it.
I’ve been very open about my use of AI for images, and I’ve done blog posts about it and all of that. And why would you copy my image, why would you take my image, when you can generate your own, basically? I mean, that’s what’s so crazy.
I think that we have to separate the two things.
The training of the models is something that will be fought in various jurisdictions, but what I think will happen is there will be some kind of payout eventually to somebody, but we’ll all carry on, and then each jurisdiction has these different rules, but as long as we are open and honest about it.
That’s why I really wanted to talk to you is because you put these blog posts out on AI usage in book covers, you’re being very open, because to me, we’re proud of this. This is great fun, it’s really creative, it’s super creative.
It’s expanding the potential of what we can do, so why would we hide it?
Damon: Yeah, absolutely.
I mean, yeah, I put it out there because it was becoming a thing, right? It was certainly becoming something that people were talking about, and it was something that affected us. I needed to just be open and honest with how we are going to be approaching this. I knew at the time, putting them out, that lots of people may disagree.
I kind of thought at the time, and still now, that people are still forming their opinions. They’re not sure kind of which way to go. I wanted to put it out there that —
Cover designers are still artists, and as artists, we agree with it. We think it’s a great thing.
This allows us to do much, much more. I think it’s a great thing. I’m very positive about it and I hope it carries on.
Joanna: Yes, and it’s only going to get better.
Well, on that you’ve mentioned Midjourney. You also mentioned that Shutterstock has its own AI image category, and many of the stock sites are doing this now.
What’s so funny about Getty’s legal case against Stable Diffusion—I think it is, I’ll put it in the show notes—but at the same time they’re doing that, they’re rolling out their own AI image, obviously based on their own images.
Adobe Photoshop has also said that they will support any legal cases that come up around any AI images generated by its own engine, and they have Firefly. So I mean, what other developments do you see?
I think within six months to a year, there won’t be a design tool that doesn’t have AI in it.
How can a designer avoid this if it’s going to be in every single tool?
Damon: Yeah, I mean, look, they can’t. They can’t, but I do think there are different ways that it’s being used which are really interesting.
I mean, so there is, I guess the normal Midjourney style generative AI that is part of the new Photoshop beta, but we never use it. It exists, but it’s not anywhere near as good, for now, as Midjourney, and we don’t use it.
However, for things like filling in the gaps, right, or a really good example is if you need to turn a normal eBook cover into an audiobook cover, Adobe Photoshop new generative AI tool is amazing because it can just seamlessly make your background, whatever it is, fill out the space that is needed for the audio book cover, and things like that.
This is a form of generative AI, it’s not as flashy and interesting, I guess, as the really creative outputs that you might get, but it’s amazing.
We’ve actually for quite a long time, and it is a form of AI which we also don’t really think about, We use AI to just remove the backgrounds from images that we might use and want to put into a book cover.
Whereas in the past, it took 10 or 15 minutes of painstakingly cutting out the image from the background. Now AI can do it in 10 seconds, and it’s done, and you can use that image.
AI has already been a part of these design tools for a while.
And yeah, absolutely, it’s going to just become so much a part of it that you don’t even know that it’s AI anymore.
Joanna: Yes, and it feels like people are only calling things AI when they haven’t gone into the mainstream.
So for example, Canva, many authors have been using for many years now. Canva is amazing. It has so many options. And that thing you just said, and obviously it uses a lot of AI and it now has a generative AI tool, but it also has a one click remove background.
So I don’t know why people don’t understand that this stuff is AI-powered in some way, but that seems to be the point.
It almost feels like in a year’s time, it’ll just be “book design,” and you just use the tools. People haven’t been questioning your use of Photoshop in the past or whatever, have they? Or any of these things. So I don’t know, how about you? What do you think?
Where will we be in a year’s time? I mean, I guess the other thing to say is that the speed at which Midjourney and other tools are getting better—
How do you see things being different in a year’s time?
Damon: You know, I wish I could predict that. It’s so unpredictable because it is moving so quickly.
I think maybe in a year’s time, but I hope not, maybe in a year’s time, you might use generative AI to just stick your book synopsis into some sort of AI and it will just create the best possible book cover in a few seconds, and it’s done, right. There’s your book.
This was your novel input, here’s your output, this is the book cover. That could happen. In fact, that probably will happen, but it might not be in a year’s time. It might be in three or four years’ time, but that probably is what will happen in one way or another, where you just put in the least amount of input and you get the best output.
Joanna: I mean, I would say a year’s time for sure. I mean, sorry to tell you this, but at the moment, okay, so you can feed in a whole book to something like Claude, Claude 100K, and output a book’s description. (Through www.Poe.com]
You can also then say to it, “Please create me 15 prompts for book cover images that I could use here,” and then you can use those. I mean, some of these models now can generate really good prompts for Midjourney, and then you can go use that. There’s still a question of font, and this is something that is the missing piece I feel.
Regardless, and this is the important point, regardless, because this is the same for authors, can you generate a book with one click? You almost pretty much can at this point. I mean, with nested stuff or Code Interpreter and all this kind of thing, there are ways to generate books very, very quickly. So this is the big question.
If — when — AI can do all of this stuff, are we worried about our living as creators?
Or are you worried about your business as a cover designer? And should authors be worried? Or how are you thinking about this future?
Damon: Look, we can only work with where we are now, right? So we’re adapting as we’re going. I mean, we can’t predict what’s going to be in the future.
You’re quite right in that it’s, for now, for right now, that those AI engines, you probably could find a way to add text to the cover in a kind of way, but it none of it works very well. The amount of time and effort that it would take to create a really good and effective book cover using only AI inputs, I mean, it might be possible, but it’s not very easy.
For now, it’s still easier to just get a book cover designer to put your book cover together for you.
Even now, you, anybody, right, for however long, anybody could learn Photoshop. Any author could learn how to use Photoshop, could learn how to design book covers, and could create their own book cover.
That has happened, that will continue to happen, but that doesn’t mean that that’s what every author is going to do. And I guess it’s the same now.
It might become much, much easier to design a book cover, or to write a book, whatever it might be. However, for many, many people, that’s not what they’re interested in.
An author very often wants to write the book, writes a great book, but doesn’t really want to go into the nitty-gritty of figuring out how to put together the best cover for the book.
I guess it’s the same as how it’s possible now to put together your whole interior house design, but there are still interior designers around that are really good at what they do and get lots of business. I kind of feel it’ll be the same this.
It will be easier to design your own book cover, it will be easier to put together a book, but there will still be a place for professional cover designers, and there will still be a difference between the people that are writing a book using AI and the people that are actually writing a book with the help of AI, but really putting in their time and effort to write the book.
Just as, you know —
We’re graphic designers, and although we’re using AI to help us put together a cover design, we’re still not using AI to just put together the whole book cover.
For now, that’s a little bit of a way away.
Joanna: And even if you did, this is how I see it, is even if you were using AI tools for a whole load more stuff, like generate a new custom font for every single cover, which I’m sure will be possible at some point, it may be possible already, I don’t know, but it’s not about that.
It’s like you said, it’s about being the human involved in the process. There’s this kind of meme going around, I’m sure you’ve seen it, is that “your job will not be taken by AI, your job will be taken by a human using AI,” because the tools enable us to do far more than what we can do alone.
That’s how I see it —
It’s like this incredible booster of our own creativity.
I love Midjourney, and I’m probably on Midjourney far more than the average author. I mean, one of my little guilty pleasures in the morning is I’ll pop on X, I use X for a lot of these images, AI stuff, and I’ll find someone’s prompt, like a new prompt that I’ve never seen before with a really cool image.
And I’ll go put it in Midjourney and see what it is, and I just have a little reroll of it and just enjoy the process of creating something new. Do you know what I mean?
Damon: Yeah, I mean, for us that’s work. For me, I’m never on Midjourney unless I have to be Midjourney. I’m never on Midjourney unless we can’t quite get something right with stock photos, or it would be just better if we could create a particular kind of image using Midjourney. That’s the only time I’m on Midjourney, which I mean, that shows you.
Joanna: But in terms of creativity, it’s the human, and it’s still our imagination. And also you as a designer, it’s your taste. I did want to mention taste because I can generate loads of images, but I still send them to Jane, and Jane makes better covers because I don’t have the — not just taste — but the experience. Like you said, you’ve looked at so many thousands of covers, tens of thousands of covers, and you know, the market.
Again, it’s the same with authors. Like we know our readers, we know about what we want to achieve with our creative vision.
I just want people listening to feel that it’s okay, even if the tool can do it all, we’re not worried.
Before we finish, because we’re almost out of time, if an author wants to work with their designer, so a lot of authors already have other designers.
I mean, obviously, if they come to you, they can choose not to use AI, you have that option, or they can use that as part of the process.
But if an author has a designer, and that designer is like, ah, I don’t know—
What are some ways that an author might encourage their designer to play with this? Like, should it just be to come over and read your blog posts?!
Damon: Maybe, maybe. I mean, I kind of feel not every cover needs AI.
So if you trust your designer, and your designer is able to produce a really effective book cover for you. I mean, what if the cover only is a text-only cover, or it would work best with a hand illustration, or the perfect photo already exists, then AI isn’t required, right? It might just not be the best option. As I see it —
AI is just another tool that we can use to create book covers that we can use as part of our toolbox.
So I feel like, if you trust your cover designer, and if they don’t need to use AI, and you still really happy with the result, then that’s fine, right?
But if you’re not happy with the result, or if you’re looking at other sort of options, and if they’re open to it, I would absolutely recommend that they look at your podcast, and they look at James from Go On Write, and sure, look at the blog posts that I’ve put out, but whatever it might be, just to kind of get different viewpoints and different opinions.
I think often, like on X, everyone’s kind of in their own echo chambers, and you might find that you just happen to be in the echo chamber with AI being terrible and it’s going to take over everything.
And maybe it’s time to just step out of the echo chamber and look at other viewpoints and opinions
— and see that there are other things out there. It’s like I often think that sometimes you might see something on Twitter—sorry, on X—where there’s been some sort of outcry over how AI was used on a particular cover. And you might see the sort of feedback loop of, “How could that publisher have done that? Or that author have done that? That’s terrible.”
At the end of the day, 99% of readers don’t care where the image came from that’s on that cover.
It’s really like the last time you bought something, and maybe you saw an advertisement for it and you bought something, did you think, on this ad that I’m looking at now, where did they source the image for this ad?
Because the end of the day, the book cover is just an ad for the book. So I think don’t worry too much. Look at other viewpoints, look at other opinions, really consider the bigger picture of what the job is of the cover.
If the author really wants the designer to look into that, you know, give the designer their own opinion about what they think of it, and let the designer form their own opinion. If they still don’t want to do that, then either trust them to come up with something great that doesn’t require AI, or look for another designer.
Where can people find you and everything you do online?
Damon: The easiest way is just the website, Damonza.com. That’s where everything is happening.
Joanna: Brilliant. Well, thanks so much for your time, Damon. That was great.
Damon: Thanks, Joanna. Appreciate it. It was great to chat to you.
The post Using AI Images In Your Book Cover Design Process With Damon Freeman first appeared on The Creative Penn.
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Author: Joanna Penn