A local friend asked me about book covers, and this is what I said to her. (I wrote this in late August 2018.)
I’m putting my best book cover resource links here, online, in case anyone else might benefit from it. (I’m not sure if the original fonts – Lato and Playfair will show up, but I’m including them… just in case. And because I could cut-and-paste the text, and only had to add the hyperlinks. Yaayyy!)
First, see what competing book covers look like. Use Yasiv.com to see book styles, colors, cover images, fonts, etc. Just type in the genre/category, or a title of a book that’s kinda-sorta similar to what you plan to publish.
1) Make your own. (Free – or free-ish – software: Canva, Gimp, others. Paid: Photoshop, others.) I use Photoshop, but I’ve been working with graphics for decades. (If you make your own, I love the free cover size templates from Bookow.com – https://www.bookow.com/resources.php#createspace-cover-template-generator – I think they’re better than some of CreateSpace’s cover-size templates. Just remember to keep everything 300 dpi and export as a PDF.)
For romance cover photos, many of us use PeriodImages.com (https://www.periodimages.com/-/galleries ) Just keep in mind that they’ll sell the same photos, over & over again. So, it’s key to use lots of different elements on your covers, so the “oh, it’s him again” reaction isn’t a problem. Your books must look unique.
For the best fonts by genre, here’s the best resource: http://www.creativindie.com/tag/best-print-fonts/ And here’s one that’s more generic: http://inspiredcoverdesigns.com/the-best-fonts-to-use-on-a-book-cover-by-genre/ One of my favorite cheatsheets is: https://imgur.com/1CdzX60 , but you’ll find lots more online. Just search for something like “font combining.” There are Pinterest boards dedicated to that topic.
For book interiors, this can be a good cheatsheet: https://dotted-design.com/blog/2017/01/11/current-favorite-google-font-pairings . I love Google’s free fonts.
For free fonts you can use, legally, on your book covers, check out FontSquirrel.com
2) Use CreateSpace’s free cover design software. Pro: Easy to use. Con: Far too easy to turn out a boring cover and not realize it.
3) Hire someone at Fiverr to make a cover for you. I’ve hired “vikncharlie” and really like her work. Friends recommend “germancreative” and “oliviaprodesign.” You can get good covers for $5, but expect to pay around $25 for a really nice cover.
4) Get a premade cover. I’ve used https://thebookcoverdesigner.com/product-category/premade-book-covers/ and shopped in the $50-and-less range.
Depending on what you’re writing, lots of friends love: https://www.goonwrite.com/
For those with deep-ish pockets, Damonza gets great reviews – https://damonza.com/predesigned-ebook-covers/
Or, you can get really spendy (worth it, if you’re earning 5-figures/month from your books) with something like https://99designs.com/book-cover-design (At least two friends of mine swear by 99Designs. For now, they’re out of my budget.)
AuthorMarketingClub is another huge resource with a wide range of prices. Click through to see which you like. Some are far better than others.
Also, for inspiration (and to see critiques of recent covers), look for Joel Friedlander’s latest book cover reviews. Here’s one: https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2018/08/e-book-cover-design-awards-july-2018/