I am not saying that you can’t do it, maybe you are part of that percentage. But if you took a step back and looked at that drawing you did for your cover, thinking it was someone else’s, what would your honest thoughts be?
In my case, my thoughts are somewhere along the lines of “I would never buy that book”. But that is because I know my artistic hand is not necessarily up to par for what I picture in my head and I am willing to admit that to myself. If you do this, be sure to really be truthful to yourself. If there is anything that sticks out as “could be better” then get someone else’s opinion-or better yet, just don’t waste the time in the first place and get yourself an illustrator.
What I did for my first book, Danny Calloway and the Puzzle House, was I went onto DeviantArt.com and I typed in a key word for my book like “old house”. I would then scroll through hundreds of pieces of art looking for the ones that stood out to me. When I would find a style I liked I would contact the artist to see what their rate was.
In order to give a good idea of what I wanted the cover to incorporate, I would find random images around the web and photoshop together my ideal look. Here is my first colage of images from around the internet I used to describe what I was looking for to the illustrators:
I used the above image, which again is a composite of random images around the web, to communicate the idea I was going for (if you notice, the guy with the lantern is the groundskeeper from Disneyland’s Haunted Manson).
By doing this, I was able to get a better idea of what the price would be and what the different artists could bring to the book.
When I finally found the illustrator I liked, I worked closely with her to make sure what she was doing was what I was looking for. And after many revisions we ended up with the great cover below.
And that’s just the ebook cover, the print version looks even better.
So, take your time to find a great illustrator and work closely with them to get exactly what you want. You are putting out a product you want people to buy, might as well make it a good product.