If you’re an amazing graphic designer or you honestly think you can be, then go ahead and design your own cover.
If not, then have someone do it for you.
It doesn’t have to be a massive undertaking. Pre-made covers can run about 40 bucks or so. The cover to my first book was a pre-made. I found an awesome one. Other people have good luck as well.
Here’s the thing – it doesn’t have to be the final cover you use for your book. If you’ve only got enough for a pre-made but can’t find the perfect one, get one that’s good enough or close enough. Later, when you’ve made some more money, you can have the perfect one made for you.
How much does a custom cover cost? Varies. I would say on the lower end you’re looking at a hundred bucks. My cover designer does photo manipulation covers for about 150 or so. That means for 150 we’ll find some stock photos, then she’ll put them together and make a fantastic cover. Something that looks like a real professional did it. She also does covers for other writers selling a lot more books and making a lot more money than me.
You can spend a lot more than that if you want. 400, 600 and up. If you’re getting custom artwork done, look to spend more. But you don’t have to.
Pre-mades work. They rock. And it’s the best option for a writer on a budget.