Quality ebook cover art is hard to come by for less than $150-$400. But it can be done, consistently, if you do what I do. I hire freelance artists/graphic-designers, at the price I'm willing to pay, to make a cover based on my own design concepts. See the first post on adventures in cover artistry: http://thenightlifeseries.blogspot.com/2012/08/adventures-in-ebook-cover-artistry.html
Initially, I found a buttload of talented artists working in illustration and graphics design when I posted my ebook cover art job. Fifty different artists applied for the job. It was difficult to choose just one. After going through this process several times, hiring artists and working through multiple mockups-proofs, I settled on the "prove you're the one" method.
The problem with artists is they usually have a day job. They do this graphic design stuff on the side. Finding time to do what I want at the price I'm willing to pay is an issue.
Sure, if I wished to throw hundreds of dollars at an artist, they'd drop everything and have my work done in two days. But I'm kinda cheap. That's what my wife says.
I sorted through many an artist who took a week or more getting back to me by email in order to find those who respond immediately and get the work done in days rather than weeks. Its no surprise that the artists who run full a time graphic design business are the most prompt and professional. Its their bread and butter to do this stuff.
Lisa Strong is the latest graphic designer I hired. She's awesome on timeliness, professionalism, and she does as many modifications and proofs as necessary to reach a finished product you're happy with:
Here's the cover for "The Nightlife Las Vegas" she finished in five days. Two of those days I wasted in not getting back to her on my opinion of the initial proof work.
The trick to a good cover is the K.I.S.S. principle, Keep It Simple Stupid. Everything on your cover must be recognizable from a thumbnail image. Most ebook shoppers will never see more than a thumbnail image of your ebook until they click on it. Your ebook better be one cool-ass lookin' thumbnail, especially if you're an unknown Indie author. Us Indies are always judged by our covers, initially.
This cover by Lisa Strong, has a wonderful thumbnail appeal. Everyone can see the elegant bright white fonts and the blood splattered Las Vegas sign. Simple. Colorful. Grabs the eye. The concepts embodied in this cover are effectively communicated at both thumbnail and full size.
Give Lisa a shot. If you're not getting what you want on an ebook cover design, perhaps you need to provide better tools and references for what you want. I scoured the web for imagery and tools to give to Lisa. I provided her with a set of Photoshop blood splatter tools for use on my covers, along with the sign image.
Make your cover artist's job easy, and you will get what you want.
Stay tuned for my next blog post detailing the various stages of development working through several artists on "The Nightlife Las Vegas" cover.