Drive is what you need to spend money on something. Quality is what sorts the bad from the good, and ultimately your readership when it comes to books.
Think hard about what you need for your book cover before you even begin to make your sketches. Consult any professional with ideas for a cover so they can tell you if you’re on the right track, genre-driven-wise (You don’t need characters on the cover smooching if the book’s sci-fi). Once confident in your knowledge of cover branding by genre, jump into your creative mind and pull out a few cover designs. Get them out on paper. Quality is not yet a factor.
Personal Tip: I’d take each of your ideas as far as revision. Each design has vast potential, and what that means is you shouldn’t sketch out harder lines and details on one design while leaving the others in their rough form. That’s biasing the other covers. If one’s generally colored, they all should be.
Take your ideas to an editor. If you’re the editor, you’ve skipped ahead. If not, finding an editor to do wonders with your drafts can be a very simple task. If signed up with a self-publishing agency already, you can buy a cover artist from them at their set price. I could say go to places like PeoplePerHour.com or another freelance site to shop, but I’d rather direct you to the place where artists live and breath: DeviantArt.
Here are the highlights about DeviantArt. There are all types of creators that come to this site, whether your looking for sculptures, air-brush, watercolors, makeup, photography, etcetera, they have them. Once you have an idea for your cover, let’s say dragons, type the keyword into the search bar and see what shows up. Maybe you wanted your cover as 3D as possible without looking too real. I bet you’ll find at least three styles close to what you desire. Click on the artists’ profiles and see their other artworks. If one specializes in dragons, you’ve found a winner. With your special design in mind, contact the artist with a goal price and maybe they could work something out with you. If you like one of the prints they have already, buy it from them and see if you may use it as your book cover. (I’m not completely sure how that works, but if it bothers you, you might ask that they make the print unavailable to anyone else, and pay a high price for it.)
Bottom line: DeviantArt equals easier access to exactly what you see in your head, but could be costly if they’re an experienced, well-known artist. (You’d be better off asking them for a new piece of work for a cheaper price than buying what they already have on their page.) Freelance sites only offer the artists they have and limit your style choices. (I see mainly a lot of kids’ books illustrators most of the time.)
Now that you’re ready to move on from your first draft to a final draft, whether through an artist, friend, or yourself, you’ll need computer programs. Nothing today can be completely done by hand. You’ll need a photo editor, which I use the line of Adobe Photoshop programs. They’re expensive, but do their job. (You’re artist probably has a trusted program on their computer.) You may either edit all of your designs or pick a favorite and run with it. Don’t root yourself on the spot; experiment. Change color and shadow angles as well as the contrast and sharpness levels on your designs. Don’t approve until it’s exactly what you want. Just remember, everyone has limitations, including your editor. You might have to make a compromise with them if they can not create exactly what you’re seeing.
Next step is to find the perfect text font, which is much easier than designing the graphics. Go through a free list of fonts using your software, and if you still can’t find what you want, you can buy new templates from the programs’ websites or from other sites. They can range from cents to dollars, but nothing that’s going to drain your pockets. It’s worth it, in my opinion, to spend a hand-full of dollar bills on a font that’ll put your book on the winning side. (Not saying it’ll become a best-seller from the best cover; that’s all luck.)
Just remember, shop around! Use your time wisely and trust people! We’re all in this together in the publishing industry!
Thanks for reading,
Where you can find my books: http://www.amazon.com/Brista-Drake/e/B00YZGC792/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/writingmime