My wife (Jessica Hildreth) designs my covers, and has designed covers for many NYT and USA Today Best Sellers. She has also made replacement covers for S&S, Hachette, and Random House for books that weren't; selling well.
She seems to have an eye for a great cover, and is a graphic design major.
Typically, she charges $100-150 for a custom cover on an Indie novel.
I used to struggle with Microsoft Publisher. I like it but it has its difficulties. When someone on the forum suggested canva.com, I checked it out. Wow. Piece a' cake. It has a template for kindle. That site is awesome. It's really cheap. And free if you upload your own photos. I have a little experience with graphics. Emphasis on little. And my hubby is brilliant and tutors me so I have that advantage.
Since we are on the topic of covers, I'd like to bring up another aspect. The first covers you make have a long life. All of the covers I designed throughout the years, are out there for all to see. Amazon does a fab job of displaying only the newest covers. But Goodreads insists on keeping them up. And I don't know why, but websites that pick up your book and sell it via an affiliate, just might have your old covers. I wish I knew how to insure that only the latest covers display. Goodreads says that the cover that was there at the time it was purchased, is the cover that stays. I see their point.
Alex Ryan wrote:
I do my own covers, using my own stock of photographs and MS Publisher.
They say a picture can say a thousand words. If you pick out one background photo that just says it all and has a lot of impact, and then perhaps overlay it with a semi-transparent image of something related, and do your text colors and placement right, you can get a lot of mileage.
Yep! I use Photoshop which is what the pros use that i started out buying from. Except for custom artwork, if a stock image is used I see no difference in any others. Its all a matter of color coordinating the fonts. Overlaying and transparencies are easy as well.
Look over on SelfPubBookCovers.com. They have thousands of pre made covers, mostly made by combining a couple of stock photos in interesting ways. They have a "tool" for putting on your title and author name, with a lot more flexibility (size, font, color, placement) than the Cover Creator gives you. They run maybe $75. I've gotten two of them and am pleased with them.
I don't know why this zombie reared up out of its grave, but I agree that Canva is a great resource, better than any of the cover wizards at Amazon or CreateSpace or Lulu etc etc. Does take a bit of learning, like everything else worthwhile. But I've made a couple of very acceptable covers with it.
(There's nothing like an actual graphic artist, however. Pity they have gotten so expensive. I used to get ebook covers for $40, wraparound paperback covers for $80. No longer, alas. The word is out that there is indeed money in self-publishing -- for the people who sell services to the self-pubbers! Which reminds me: buy my book!)
(Don't trust KDP to publish a print edition. Don't trust CreateSpace to publish an ebook.)
Regarding Goodreads keeping the old covers in place - I just updated covers on two of my books on KDP and noticed that the updated covers did not transfer to the Goodreads page when I searched my titles there. So I emailed Goodreads (firstname.lastname@example.org) and they updated to the new covers for me... They actually updated them on the same day I sent the email. They responded back saying that they researched my books on KDP and found that the books did indeed have new, updated covers - they asked me to confirm the updates and/or if there was anything else I needed changed. I found them to be very easy to work with and they provided excellent customer service to my inquiry.
You are correct that an already purchased copy did not update on Goodreads, but anyone new searching my titles on Goodreads were presented the new, updated covers.
I know there are those who say you should never use anything but a cover designed by a professional, but I think that's maybe more important in certain genres than in others. For instance, if I were publishing a "bodice ripper" (is that still a term?), I would think I'd need a cover that's at least as eye-popping as the romance covers you would see on a shelf at Barnes & Noble. But for non-fiction books -- or especially reference books of the kind I publish -- maybe not so much.
Personally, I have used the KDP Cover Creator, my own Photoshop skills, Canva, and the aforementioned Studio FX, as well as paid someone on fiverr (whose best work for me was on some erotica covers, but I'm not going to link to any of those here).
Perhaps some day I'll feel the need and have the resources to pay a high-end professional cover designer, but that day hasn't arrived yet.