Continuing the advice topic of book cover design, let's hear from Matt Gilbert, author of the Eye of the Lion Saga...
a video game programmer, I have a lot of contact with artists. I was
able to locate someone by consulting with colleagues, but if you don't
have that option, deviantart.com
is a great place to look. There are forums where you can post looking
for artists to commission, and they have examples of their work online.
huge thing to consider up front is to make sure your artist is the sort
of artist you want. Yes, that's right, there are lots of different
kinds, and they are better at some things than others. One guy may be a
whiz at 3d modeling, another may be jam up at painting and 2d, etc. It
pays to understand that. If you are not sure, find a book cover you want
yours to resemble and ask your artist if that's his thing. A pro will
tell you if it's outside his skillset and recommend you to someone else,
or be able to show you a portfolio that backs up his claims.
you have a vision you want to see realized, words are good, but
pictures are better. To get the right look for my Xanthians and
Nihlosians, I did a lot of description, a lot of 'this is how they
feel', snippets of description from the books. I also did a lot of
google image search to say, "Like this guy in this movie, only sort of
like this other guy in this other movie."
A good artist will work with you to compose the scene, and get you roughs to approve before real work begins.
at least a few hundred for a good cover. You can keep that low if you
allow the artist to use the cover in his portfolio, rather than
demanding it be totally exclusive. Also, a lot of artists support indy
art (including writing) in general, and will work with you on the price
if they know you're an indy, so don't be shy about it.