Book Cover Design, copywriting, Models, Photography, stock images

What’s right and not with images.

One of the things that keep coming up when I sit down with an author to discuss book cover design and marketing, is copyright. Not of their book but of the images being used for marketing as well as for the cover of their books. It blows me away how many people do not understand how the law works with images they are “just grabbing from Google”.

Let me say that as a professional Graphic Designer I loathe that statement.
The only way to use an image free of license is under a free license, such as the GFDL and/or an acceptable creative commons license. Or release into the public domain, which removes all copyright and licensing restrictions. (Wikipedia)

With that said, please, please, please know and understand how you can use a photograph that is not yours.

I’ve gone on the most
commonly used stock images site (and there are many out there) to see what they say about licensing their images.
What license do you need?

When you download a file on iStock, you’re buying a standard license that lets you use the file for any personal, business or commercial purposes that aren’t otherwise restricted by the license (check out the full content license agreement).


That means you can use our content in advertising, marketing, apps, websites, social media, TV and film, presentations, newspapers, magazines and books, and product packaging, among hundreds of other uses. Adding an extended license lets you use our content in even more ways.
Otherwise, you need what they call “an extended license.” When do you need an extended license? I’m glad you asked.
· 500,000+ Printed Copies – and remember as an author if you’re selling this many copies call yourself blessed and pay for that extended license. It’s worth it.
· Sharing files – this means if multiple people are going to have access to the file you need an extended license, which is why I don’t release PSD (Photoshop) files. I only have a license for myself to handle that file.
· Physical Products – Want to make mugs, bookmarks, postcards, t-shirts, posters with the image? Then you need an extended license. When I offer an author the option to do social media graphics, bookmarks etc. I have either purchased a product for resale license or I own the image/photos.
· Digital templates for resale – on website templates, e-greeting cards, etc. if you’re going to use it on any kind of template online, get a product for resale license.
This is the core of their T&C, and they have more legal information you’re welcome to check out on their site.

Shutterstock images

On this site you pay a subscription and you have access to “millions of inspiring images” their words not mine. Here are several levels of subscriptions:
Standard License
Monthly Subscriptions: Daily access to millions of inspiring images.
Images On Demand: Small image packs. Download your images anytime for up to one year.
Enhanced License
Images On Demand: Extended licensing for use on products for sale and for unlimited print runs and viewers.
Corporate Accounts:
Custom Accounts allow extended, multiple-user licensing and account access for your whole team.
As you can see they are a bit more flexible with their licensing but not much. They also say the following:
Shutterstock images may not be used together with pornographic, defamatory, or otherwise unlawful or immoral content. Using images may also not be used in a way that infringes upon any third party’s trademark or intellectual property.
Images With Recognizable People:
There are additional restrictions if the image depicts a person who is recognizable:
· tobacco promotions
· ads for adult entertainment or similar clubs and escort or dating services
· political ads
· ads for healthcare or pharmaceutical services or products
· defamatory, unlawful, offensive or immoral content–for example implying that a model is a criminal or suffers from a physical or mental infirmity.
However, you may use images that do not depict a recognizable person.
Still basic restriction protecting the photographers and models they are using.


This is Adobe way of competing with other stock images sites. They make it easy for Creative Cloud (CC) users. As a CC user myself I have to confess they have become one of my favorite sites to use.
*Let me insert disclaimer: I usually only use stock images on pre-made book covers as part of a composition. Occasionally I will use a stock image for a background or an effect with one of my own image/photographs. But this happens very seldom.
Here is what you get from Adobe Stock:
Adobe Stock license information
An Adobe Stock license allows you to use your asset anywhere in the world, and the license never expires. You may use the asset in print, presentations, websites, and even on social media sites. However, you may not distribute the digital asset by posting it online or in any other way that would let other people use the asset without licensing it themselves.
There are a few additional restrictions based on the type of license you purchase. Here’s what you need to know:
Standard licenses
With a Standard license, you may not:
Create more than 500,000 copies of the image in print, digital documents, software, or by broadcasting to more than 500,000 viewers.
Create products for resale where the main value of the product is the image itself. For example, you can’t use the asset to create a poster, t-shirt, or coffee mug that someone would buy specifically because of the image printed on it.
Enhanced licenses
Enhanced licenses provide all the rights granted in a Standard license, and remove the 500,000 copy restriction. Adobe Stock videos and premium images have enhanced licenses by default.
Extended licenses
Extended licenses provide all the rights granted in an Enhanced license, remove the 500,000 copy restriction and allow you to create products for resale.
They also say that this is for individuals only, so if you have a team or multiple people might be using the files you have to reach out and see what they can offer your team.
All this to say, know what you’re getting. You never know if you’re going to be the next JK Rollins or EL James (I have high hope for you). Let’s avoid legal issues later.

International Standard Book Number

Options for ISBN

I’ve had several brand new authors ask me if I can provide them with an ISBN number. This shows me they know very little about publishing a book. So I’m going to give a quick recap on or what is an ISBN number? and what are the options out there for a self-publish authors.

What is an ISBN? ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. This number is used when publishing a print book, it used to be, you only had two option. You either got one assigned by the publisher and/or printer, or you use your own. Now with CreateSpace, you have a few more options.

CreateSpace can assign you an ISBN, which is FREE. The good thing about this option is:

  • Of course, it’s free
  • Your book is eligible for expanded distribution (which is now free)
  • Amazon adds your book into a database where libraries and schools or other online retailers can order it

With that last one you have to remember your book is on a list, not a store. That mean if someone wants to buy your book it can only be purchased through one of these online retailers or Amazon. The other thing to consider is that Amazon is now listed as the publisher of your book.

Until recently there was the option to get a custom ISBN number from Amazon for $10, this option has since been discontinued, but it’s worth mentioning because it was out there at one point and many authors used it.

You can get a Universal ISBN for $99 from CreateSpace.  This can works if:

  • You want to be listed as the publisher,
  • Rarely publish a book,
  • Are not planning to market to libraries and schools

Another attractive aspect of this option is you can use it with any POD publisher. That means you can leave CreateSpace and go to another printer.

And last but not least you can purchase you own ISBN going on The cost varies from $125 up to $1000 for 1000 numbers. This can work for you if:

  • You want to register yourself as publisher
  • You can move from one publisher to another
  • And you have to remember you will not be listed in the libraries and school

Lets not forget your eBooks

You CANNOT reuse your ISBN number for your eBook. Let me also say an e-ISBN is a myth.
It’s nor required to have an ISBN number for your eBook but it’s highly recommended and each format has to have it’s own number, meaning if you have a .mobi (for KDP), an ePub (for B&N, Apple, Kobo, etc), and audio you need one for each format.
If you make major changes to the book (not including typos and grammar mistakes) you need a new ISBN.

Bottom line, it’s up to the eBook distributor who’s selling your book whether or not you need a number. A good example of this is iTunes doesn’t require a number if you use their iTune connect, but if you’re using Smashwords they do require it if you go with their services to sell the book on iTunes/iBook.

If you do choose to get a number for both your paperback and ebook, remember to list them both on your copyright page. Just make sure you identify them separately.

There are many things to be considered when getting an ISBN number for your book or books, but what I think is most important is that you think long term to make sure you protect your intellectual property.


About me, Imagination

Get your book cover re-done for FREE… you heard it right for FREE – 2nd week in January

So far the year has started on the right foot, I’m working on a few custom book covers, as well as growing the pre-made book cover inventory.
One of the things I want to offer this year is re-doing a FREE book cover a month. Why? I’ve had a chance to talk to several authors and I’ve heard things like ‘if I would have known of the resource out there when I published my first book”, ‘I think my 2nd book would have sold better if it had a different cover”, “I would love to give my book a facelift…’ so on and so forth. With all the being said what come after is… “I just didn’t know”, or “I don’t have the financial resource right now”, “I’m in the middle of finishing another book and I can only afford one book at a time right now” So I’ve decided to do 1 FREE re-do cover a month, this is to help authors that are starting out, I know what that’s like.
Book cover design by Nydia PastorizaHere is a book the author decided to re-do the cover. The black cover is the original cover and although is not a bad cover, after reading the book (which I highly recommend) I can tell you the new cover suits the book better. I’m getting info on the author on how the book is doing with the new cover and I’ll be sure to share in a future post.


Get book Following Evan by Elida May



Here is how it works:

Fill out the form on here as best as possible, when I make a decision on the book of the month I’ll reach out to the author and we’ll get working together on a cover that will help them sell lots of books. I’m also happy to work with authors on marketing to get the word out. If you or someone you know can benefit from this service please share the link or have them email me at

Thank you for reading.
best writing is done in bed
About me, First Post, Inspire

New Years Resolution – Here it goes!

So here is my first blog post and I’m pretty excited. I don’t consider myself a writer by any stretch of the imagination, but I try to learn something new every year or get better at something I already do, which is the case with writing. My New Year’s resolution is to write a blog and maybe a short story. The hard part of this task is not necessarily the writing part, but the staying consistent part. The first step is to start the blog, so here you have it. Second, I took a workshop/class to “write your first book.” It was an awesome class and I learned a lot. Am I writing a book??? Not today or this week or even next month, but I’m going to try and make a habit of writing and maybe someday I’ll write a book. If I don’t it’s ok, at least I’m hoping to learn something about good writing and also maybe understand writers better. Since I design covers for books, it can only help, right?

I’m going to introduce myself and give an overview of what I do and what things can be expected. Of course, if you’re reading this blog you know I’m a graphic and web designer, but I’m also a wife and a mom of two. My kids are 21 and 8 (I know that’s a big gap), my oldest is a Sazzy-girl herself that loves make up and fashion and is planning on becoming a paralegal. My 8-year-old is an exuberant boy that loves, loves, loves dinosaurs, NASCAR and, against his dad’s hopes, is a huge Carolina Panthers fan. I’ve been married for 22 years to a geat guy who happens to be a Dallas Cowboys fan, which is why it kills him that his only son is a Panthers fan.  I think that’s the basics on the personal side.

On my career side, I’ve been a designer for roughly 9 years and I love it. I’ve worked for small businesses and larger corporations and I’ve done my fair share of freelance. Another thing about me is that I love to read– I always have. While working as a designer for several different companies, I’ve had the opportunity to design multiple book covers and was introduce to formatting e-pubs, but mainly for cookbooks and training manuals or educational textbooks.  I’m gonna be honest, I read just about anything with words, self-help books, fiction (romance, horror, paranormal, etc.), non-fiction, biographies, and autobiographies–these are my favorite. I’m fascinated by a person that can document their life and look back and bring to life their memories to share with the world.

At the beginning of this year, I was encouraged to merge my love for reading with my skills for design and I feel its one of the best decisions I’ve made. I’ve had the chance to meet all kinds of interesting people from all over the world, and some of the authors I’ve worked with are based in England as well as other parts of the world. Don’t’ get me wrong I’ve only met them via email, social media and such, but otherwise, I would have never made contact with these wonderful people.

So what are some of the services I offer? Pre-made book covers, custom book covers, I convert books to epub for digital distribution (so you can read them on your nifty e-reader), and layout book for print through CreateSpace and others. I also offer animated graphics for marketing as well as social media graphics to help promote books, authors, events and more.

One of the things I want to do this year is to help self-published authors who are just starting out. I’m offering to re-do the cover of one of their books FREE (maybe their first one) in order to help with sales. I want to help get the word out on an upcoming book with interesting graphics and social media strategy. So if you know someone that can benefit from these opportunities, send them my way. Stay tuned…I’ll be posting more about it here on my blog.

About me, Inspire, Models, Photography

Excited about our growing team!!! #sazzyteam

As you already know, I’m a graphic designer. While in design school, I took some photography classes for the purpose of understating the media I used the most throughout design, but I really didn’t have to much interest in photography as a profession. With time and throughout my career, the skills I learned in photography class have come in handy for keeping costs down for my clients. I’ve even invested in a good DSLR camera.

As a freelance publishing designer, the camera and my photography class have been a huge help. I still use some stock images, but I’ve started taking my own photography for the book covers I’m working on. This helps with several things: copyright, cost and exclusivity. Some of these are things that I plan to discuss further in future blogs, but today I wanted to share the following:

1) Some of my photography –  I promised myself I would get out and try to take pictures every week; not just when I schedule photos shoots with my team. Practice makes perfect, right? So I wanted to share some of the photos here and get some feedback.


Community in Lake Park
Photography by Nydia Pastoriza

2) I’m slowly building a team of models to photograph for book covers I design. So far, the models we have hired include a professional dancer and an aspiring model. I’m hoping to to help them  build their portfolios and get them on their way in their careers. Here are two of the our female models:

SkyeA beautiful and smart girl that’s been modeling and dancing for several years as part of the FOXES official dance team for The Charlotte Hounds Major League Lacrosse team. She just joined our team this year and we’re looking forward seeing her beautiful face on more of our covers.

Model for Sazzyreader
Skye – Model for Sazzyreader

Skye's Instagram

AlexThis young lady is our 1st official Sazzyreader model. She’s been working with us for about a year now and is already on several of our covers (to see more, visit pre-made book covers). 

Alex - Model for
Alex – Model for

Alex's Instagram

Again, thank you for reading and stay tuned for more additions to our awesome team!




Book editing, Inspire, Photography

What is your book cover trying to say?!

Before I was designing books cover, or even before I was a graphic designer, I was a book lover. My love for reading comes from my parents. My dad lived in NYC when I was a young child and he took the subway to and from work every day. Because he spent so much time on the train he always had a book with him. He normally read western and cowboy novels in Spanish (born and raise in Puerto Rico his first language is Spanish).

I remember always looking at the covers and trying to guess what the book was about. If I got it right my dad would give a reward in the form of some kind of candy. As I got older and started reading for pleasure I always checked out books at the school’s library and often would try the same game on my own. I can’t tell you how many time the covers was way off the subject or in some case it tried to tell the whole story on the cover.

In marketing and design I’ve learned that if you give ALL the information on your business and what you do, you’re not giving the potential customer a reason to call, reach out or stop by. I feel the same applies to book covers. Here are some things to keep in mind whether you’re getting a pre-made cover, working with a designer on a custom cover or doing it yourself.

  • Make it relevant. Too often I see book covers that are beautiful but have little to do with the story and I’m not sure what genre the book is.


  • Don’t tell the whole story on the cover. Just give enough to entice the reader to pick up the book and turn it around to read the synopsis or in today’s digital world, to click and see what the book is about. Loading the cover with lots of graphics or with a busy image can become overwhelming. Remember less is better.

Like everything, there are exceptions to the rule. I got this cool book  “Heavy Sketches” by Red Rohl for my eight-year-old son a few weeks and he loves it. It was the busy cover that got my attention.  In this case, the busy cover works really well for the book.


Heavy Sketches
Heavy Sketches – Book cover By Red Rohl

Here are a few of my favorite covers, and no I didn’t design any of these.


This is one of my favorite cover of Kelly Elliott’s books. I’ve read 95% of her book and the other 5% are on my “To Read List”. You can check out her books on her website

Holding You by Kelly Elliott
Holding You by Kelly Elliott, Cover Design by Lisa Jay Studio and the photographer is Glass Jar Photography.

Another one of my favorite authors is Sawyer Bennett. When I first read this book it had a different cover which I liked too, but I love the new cover. Check out Sawyer’s books at

Off Side by Sawyer Bennett
Off Side by Sawyer Bennett, Book Cover by Sarah Hansen of Okay Creations


If you have any questions on book cover design or book formatting feel free to contact me at