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  • Writer's pictureJohn Lim

MF 242 : Considerations for putting photos in your book

Updated: Jun 22, 2022

On this episode, we take a look at photos what you need to consider if you decide to put in your book. More at

Moving Forward is also available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Amazon Music.

Part 1: A communication conundrum

Communication has become a weird conundrum. We’re connected 24-7 by our mobile devices, which sit right in our hip pockets, giving us access to others through any number of messaging and social media apps. And yet, communication itself has become more sporadic. Not that long ago, communication took more effort and thus, was a very intentional and significant act. Today, however, it’s largely short-form: quick burst messages back and forth. We also have no attention spans when it comes to waiting for replies and that includes me.

In a way, doing this podcast allows me to maintain a form of long communication with you, the listener, despite the fact that each episode is now only 10 minutes or less. Funny, these days 10 minutes is considered is an eternity, relatively speaking.

One of my challenges is maintaining meaningful conversations, whether it’s with friends, a date, or colleague. The tech has made it easier to connect but our habits have made it harder to engage and sustain those meaningful conversations. How do you deal with the challenges of this odd balancing act between accessibility and substance?

Part 2: Considerations for putting photos in your book

[NOTE: the books mentioned in this episode are out of print. For more, check out episode 388.]

Today, we’re going to cover another question I’ve gotten recently, which has to do with photos in your book.

As you’re getting towards the end of your manuscript, you may be thinking about enhancing your story with photos.

Photos can serve several purposes. It can illustrate a point for a business book or how-to manual or it can provide context for a story. For this book, which is all about acting in a Star Trek fan film, the visuals of the environment and the people are a huge part of the story. Thus, it was a no brainer for to put in photos that not only proved this all happened but to put context to the story!

Here are a few important considerations for you, as the author, if you decide to put photos in your book.


Make sure you own the copyright or intellectual property to any photos you’re using. If you’re not the direct copyright holder, you will need to get permission from whoever that is; typically the person who took the photo or some other part that has ownership. For this book, we didn’t have a lot of photos of our own as we shot the episode just a year or two shy of the smartphone revolution. Further, as cast, we rarely had time to take photos – it wasn’t something we put a lot of thought into at the time. Fortunately, we kept in touch with a number of the behind-the-scenes crew who not only took a lot of photos but graciously provided us with many along with permission to use them in our book. If you are sourcing photos from another person, you will want to give them credit in your acknowledgments section and / or within the caption text underneath the photo itself.


Where you want to put your photos? The most common and simplest placement is somewhere in the middle of your book, lumped together as a collection of pages. Flip through any book with photos and you’ll often see this layout. For this book, that’s what we went with as it was quick and easy. However, you can get creative with your photo layout. For some of you, photos may be such an integral part of the story that you want to intersperse them throughout the manuscript such as at the beginning of chapters or as part of a section break. One important factor to consider with photo layout is your writing tool and its capabilities. Scrivener can do basic photos but it is not a layout or graphics program. It’s primary purpose is writing and publication. So if you’re using Scrivener, you’ll want to keep the photo placement simple. Word, however, has a lot of flexibility and allows you greater creativity with layout.

Color vs BW

If your photos are color, they will automatically appear that way in the Kindle or ebook version. However, consider whether you want color or BW photos for the paperback. Color photos will add significant print-on-demand costs, which will increase the overall price of your book so take that into consideration. If you go with color photos, use high-resolution files and a program like Canva to standardize the sizing and for basic adjustments.


Start thinking about whether photos will play a part in your book. If you need to get photos from a third-party copyright holder, start reaching out now – ask permission and get those conversations going to get prepared.

[NOTE: the books mentioned in this episode and in the book writing series are out of print. I am leaving these episodes mostly as is and strictly for informational and instructional purposes only. I have retracted my story from the book discussed in this episode and its sequel with full reservation of my copyright. For more, check out episode 388.]

Part 3: What I’m reading

We Don’t Need Roads: The Making of the Back to the Future Trilogy by Caseen Gains (****): An excellent, engaging, quick read about the making of the Back to the Future trilogy. Although, iconic today, it may surprise you to learn that writer and director, Bob Gale and Bob Zemeckis, had a difficult time pitching the first film. The book details how the script went through several studios and why each one passed before ending up at Universal. The book is chock full of stories and interviews with many of the cast, crew and the people involved in each of the films. Highly recommend.


Scrivener (available for Mac, Win, IOS) is a book writing program that auto formats for self-publishing on Amazon’s KDP and other platforms. It’s a great tool with rich features that allow co-writers to collaborate through Dropbox. Scrivener has a bit of a learning curve but I’ve been a fan since 2017 and have talked to many authors who use it as their go-to. If you’re interested in Scrivener, you can use the coupon code MOVINGFORWARD to get 20% off your purchase (for Mac or Win). It’s a one-time license fee and available for Mac, Win, IOS.

Note: this section contains affiliate links and coupon codes for which the author may receive some compensation.

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