Should You Use AI Generated Images for Book Covers?

by | Artificial Intelligence, Self Publishing

Hello, Writers!


Since the creation of the various artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT, MidJourney, and the like, people have responded in two ways. The first is “I’ll never use this”, and the second is the excited response by those first adopters who rush into using everything new with a natural curiosity.


Should you use AI-generated images for book covers?


Before you embrace the newfound world of AI-generated images and create your first or next book covers, there is an important thing you need to consider.


And that is copyright.


It’s a very important topic that you need to consider. So, let’s talk about it.


Disclaimer: I am not a Lawyer and thus, this is not legal advice. In a similar vein, I am not a software engineer training in AI, but I’m married to someone who has a PhD in computer science. Over the months he and I have had many passionate but nonetheless civilised debates over these topics.

How AI Works

Before AI models like ChatGPT, Bard, MidJourney, and the like are made open to the public, they are written, then fed information and tested. Contrary to popular belief, an AI generator does not create images that are a mismatch of other images found on the web; it is difficult to know how the data feed to the AI is found, purchased, etc.


The Problem

And this is where the problem lies.


AI Images are created by machine learning from other images, but the creators of the tech do not disclose how this data was acquired and whether it’s obtained ethically, and they have not taken shortcuts by scrapping images from Google image search and other engines.


Technically, we are in the Wild West of the creation of AI-generated tools, before the time when best practices are created and laws are set in place to protect consumers and artists. Due to the lack of disclosure among these tech companies, the potential for copying is great.


And copying is where copyright and infringing on artists’ rights come into play. It’s the copying of an image that could get you into serious trouble.


The Elephant in the Room

So, say if you’re confident that the data used to train an AI was ethically sourced, and everything is all above board. I know that’s a loaded phrase, but hear me out. And you create an AI-generated image for your Book Cover.


Who owns that image?


Technically, you did not create the image; you wrote out the necessary detailed prompts, and the AI made the image. Does that mean the AI owns the copyright? Or does it belong to the engineers who created the product? Is it considered public domain? Or do you own the copyright?


Generally, you might own the copyright as stated by the creators of the tool. But that’s today; at present, there are no laws that state who actually owns these AI-generated images, so as the laws are created and changed over time, so too will your ownership over the art.


Mimicking Style

Now, this bothers me just as much as the other points I have made before. We’ve all seen those portraits created in the style of other illustrators. This is highly unethical and may open you up to issues surrounding copyright infringement. I understand that book covers can be expensive, but asking an AI to generate an image in the style of your favourite or dream cover designer is going to land you in hot water.


Please do not do this; it’s not worth the risk.


What About Me?

By now, there’s probably a question floating around your mind. Do I use AI-Generated images? The short answer is no. So, why is that? I will not be using AI-generated images in my designs until these issues with data not being ethically sourced or companies are forced to explain how they are teaching these tools and laws are created around the copyright pertaining to the AI images.


I guess you probably saw that one coming.


Concluding Thoughts

So, what is my advice for you? Tread carefully when it comes to using these AI tools, avoid copying styles, and leave a disclosure statement on the copyright page that the cover images were created using an AI tool. But most importantly, spend time learning how to use these tools effectively because the more information you give these tools in the form of prompts, the better the final product will be.


Or, alternatively, wait, and save up money to use your favourite designer because readers do judge a book by its cover.


With Love,



Written by Amelia

Hi, I’m Amelia Levillain! My last name is French and isn’t pronounced the way it sounds. It’s pronounced “Le-vi-lla.” I’m a London-based book cover designer specialising in affordable book covers within the cozy mystery, romantic comedy, and thriller genres. For new designs, deals, and coupon codes, sign up for my newsletter. It’s the best way to make sure you never miss out on new designs and specials.

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