How to Prepare Files for Licensing
High resolution JPEG is typically what I will send my clients, unless they ask for something else. A lot of people, shockingly, when they license images don't know a lot about file types. And they don't know why I would send them a .TIF, or how they can use a .TIF. So it's just really good to have a standard file type and size that you will send to your clients. If they ask for something else, give it or don't give it. I've had people ask for the original PSD files with all the layers, in which case I'm gonna want to know exactly why they need that because they should not need that. There was one interesting case for a book cover that I think I have here, where the publishers had asked if I had the layered file for this because they wanted to add her hand over top of the lettering here. And they thought, well, if she's on a separate layer then they can do that really easily. And I wrote and said she's not because she was really there in that space. But they just thought if she was comp...
osited in, that would be nice and easy to just plop the letters underneath her hand. That did not end up working out. And I have many more stories to tell about this as well, but not until later. As for sizing goes for what you're going to send your clients, I will typically just send the standard size that it's in. If my pixel count across the longways is 5616 pixel, then that's usually what I'll send them. Unless, I will say, unless it's only for digital use. I tend to think that if you have, let's say you're selling an album on iTunes and you want a graphic for your iTunes album cover, maybe to put as a graphic somewhere. There's really no need why you're going to have to have a 25-inch photo for that, there's just no need for it. So I'll usually size those images down for those clients who are only selling digitally, depending on the use. Sometimes, I sell images for backgrounds for websites for certain launches. And in that case, I'll size it bigger to fit the scale of the website, so then there's nothing weird, grainy, stretched, pixelated, anything like that. But I try to limit my size for digital use because I trust nobody, I trust nobody. I have had some bad experiences where I've sold images to a magazine, and I think that it's gonna be in print. And whoops I forgot to ask, it turns out it's only online and I've sent them these giant files. And then, there they all are to be downloaded by anybody who clicks on that magazine. So it's really kind of rough out there in the digital world when you're selling your images digitally. Just something to keep in mind, I will often send two files to my clients if they're doing print and digital. I'll send them one full-sized JPEG for print, and then another one that I'll say, "Please only use this for digital use." And this is something that you might want to put in a contract because if you don't, then they really don't have to do anything that you say, which is not good. So here is the expectation of your client when you're selling a digital file. They're either going to receive a high resolution file. So if they're not, for whatever reason, you need to be very upfront about that. And I have had files before where I make the deal, I say, "Great, I'm gonna send you this file." And then I realize that I don't even have a high resolution file of that image for whatever reason. Because of the great computer crash of 2009 or because of whatever reason I just don't have it. So you always want to be really upfront, and know exactly what you have to offer before you move forward with any deals. Then they're going to want to know that they can use that image in connection with promotional materials. And this is something that often we as the person selling the image might not think about. You know, you might think, okay, we've got a book cover, and I'm gonna sell this image for this book cover, and that's the only place it's gonna go. But if you think about it they need to sell this book, so they're gonna need to put this work out there in many different places, not just the book cover. So it's really good that they know that you know that they can use that image for promotional materials and things like that. And if you're uncomfortable with that, well, this is on your terms. You don't have to send that image. So you change the terms based on your expectation as well. We're gonna talk about exclusivity, and this gets really complicated, as we've already sort of dived into. Exclusivity is based on, in my opinion, these three things more often than anything else. Region, so are you selling to somebody with exclusivity in a certain region of the world. Sometimes it's really small, like just a city. Sometimes it's really big, like an entire continent. Just depends on what they want. How long they get that exclusive license for. One year, two years, three years, infinity, however long. And the medium, so is this going to be on an album cover? Is this going to be on a book, a movie poster, a ballet poster, whatever it might be? Make sure that you know those three things. All right, so if you're selling a digital only image. An image that you are selling to somebody who's not going to put it in print for any reason, this is typically what I'll do. I'll make sure that the pricing is lower because they're probably not going to have a wide distribution. If you think about a music artist who has a big label, and they're gonna put their album out to everywhere, in Target or whatever it is, then yeah, they're probably going to have a really big budget to be able to buy that image. If a band comes to me and they say, and this is always the starting line. "Love your work, but I don't have any budget." Which is key for like, okay, this is probably gonna be a digital run. Then, they're not gonna probably be able to afford a really high-priced image. So generally speaking, pricing is lower for digital only distributions. The resolution is limited, for me. You might choose otherwise, maybe you don't care if you have high resolution files out there. And I know many people who don't care about that. But if you do, I tend to send a 1200-pixel out there to them. I still keep it at 300 DPI, and that's about a 4-inch print. So if somebody were to download that image, they couldn't really print it that big. So it's probably a more manageable fraud situation [laughs] than something else which, oh, the bigger it is the worse it is in my opinion. So that's typically what I do for digital only releases. And then for print only, the pricing will often be higher because they have a budget to print that work in whatever medium it is. And the resolution is unlimited, so I'll send them the highest file size that I can, and that's usually pretty good. I've actually had people email me and say, "I don't know how to use Dropbox, "just send whatever file will fit through email." And I'm like, "Oh boy, where is this going." [Laughs] But aside from that, it's good to send that unlimited size.