So I've been venturing into indie publishing, and spend plenty of time over at Kindleboards these days. I thought I'd write a few articles on book publishing for Suite 101, so here's today's article: How to Buy an eBook Cover for $50 or Less.
Will it be the best cover ever? Probably not. Keep your genre in mind, too. Romance covers need to have a man and a woman together in a romantic pose (man without a shirt or chest showing, ideally). Contemporary romance can be a bit different, with couples in bed or close-ups of kissing, or even cartoon covers for more of a "chick lit" feel. Fantasy (especially epic) can involve illustrated covers that cost upwards of $1,000 -- but you can get by with a less expensive cover at first, or with a skilled designer.
Horror and thrillers need to be dark, but if the cover's too dark it's hard to see on a screen -- reducing your sales. Research your genre's "rules" for covers and, for your first venture, stick to them.
Plenty of indie writers create their own eBook covers, make a little money, and then upgrade the cover. That worked a year ago, but as the indie market's been flooded with new books, and as traditional publishers are pouring more and more backlist titles into eBook markets, you may find youself in the 100K ranking doldrums.
Food for thought. Cheap eBook covers are out there, but as with any purchase, buyer beware.