Writing is one of the few hobbies that cost virtually nothing to enjoy. These days, you can even self publish without having to fork out for bulk order of your own book thanks to indie-friendly, print-on-demand services. So why then should you have to put your hand in your pocket when it comes to the cover? Here's some common arguments that could hold you back.
"I wrote the book so I should design the cover too!"
I get it - you've just written a 120,000 word book on the economic history of Nepal. Surely there's nothing you can't do!
Just because you've decided to go down the self-publishing route, doesn't mean that you automatically qualify to design a cover the same way that sewing random pieces of fabric together wouldn't qualify me as a tailor. Cover design should be outsourced the same way professional editing is or formatting usually is. You obviously care immensely for your book, so give it the best cover it can get!
"It's a waste of money!"
You'd be forgiven for asking yourself "How many books will I need to sell to cover my design costs?" but actually that's a negative way to think. Remember that professional cover design is an investment because of the enormous value it'll add to your book for many years. Not only will an eye catching cover help your sales but it'll be something you can be proud to show off.
"I can do it much quicker than a designer!"
If it takes a designer with years of experience, a full range of skills and industry standard tools days or weeks to create a great looking cover, how long do you think it would it take a non-designer to create a cover to the same standard? If you can design it quicker than a designer to the same standard or higher then either you are in the wrong job or your designer is!
"I've got image editing software for FREE!"
So you've got a copy of Gimp or even Photoshop? Well I've got a nice set of shiny Snap-On spanners but that doesn't mean I'm going to try and repair the gearbox of my car. Just because you have the tools, doesn't mean they'll do the all the work for you. Knowing how to write text on images does not maketh a professional cover.
The most common misconception about graphic design is that it's easy and most of the work is done by computers after a few button clicks. Graphic design is only easy to graphic designers i.e. people who understand the principles of art & design, have extensive software knowledge and years of experience. Even with all that, designing a cover is still a sizable challenge to get right. And believe me, you'll want to get it right!
As an added bonus, don't forget that your cover will feature on the designers website indefinitely or their social media channel and could potentially be seen by thousands of other writers or publishers.