I spent almost the entire weekend poking about the various stock photo websites and watching a few you tube tutorials on how to design a book cover. The process left me with an ache in my shoulder from bending over the laptop along a nervous apprehension that I probably can’t do this alone.

I have a little sketch of what I wanted on the cover. A sketch I drew myself, and which I will not share here. As I searched for a fitting photo to use on the cover, I realized that creating the image I envisioned would require a lot of photo manipulation knowledge. There wasn’t a single image that would fit my idea exactly; all would need to be altered.

This left me with a burning question. Should I still attempt to design a cover on my own, and only decide if it works or not once it is done?

After some deliberation I decided against it. Because I do not know a lot about designing covers and do not have time to learn it all if I wish to publish my fantasy novel Protector in early 2012.

Now, before I go any further, I would like to say that I know a lot of indie writers are designing their own covers, and I’ve seen some excellent examples. I’ve also seen some fails. So your mileage may vary on this. If you have the time to learn how to design book covers, and the eye to do it, then you should go this route. I don’t.

Or rather, I could likely learn the basic of cover design and photo altering. Probably learn it well enough to get a workable cover together. But that would take precious time away from my revision efforts, which I am doing a good job of avoiding as it is.

So I decided to hire a professional book cover artist/designer. Or, rather, an aspiring professional book cover artist/designer. The real pros tend to be expensive and I am only an indie writer. (A good place to search for an affordable designer is the Kindle boards on Amazon.com, the DeviantArt.com forum or Twitter.)

My reasoning behind this decision is twofold. The cover is the first thing a potential buyer sees and it largely influences their decision to buy the book, or not. So, I want this first impression my book will make to be as good and positive as possible.

The second reason is that if I were to design the cover myself, it would likely look amateurish. Because of this, any potential buyer would have the association that the book is also amateurish. With the stigma of poor quality that is already attached to indie, or self-published authors, it is not a very good idea to compound it with a poorly designed cover.