Self publishing has a stigma of amateurism anyway, but you rob yourself of even a fighting chance when you send your baby into the world dressed in something like this:
As a writer, write your book. Let an artist do your cover.
However, I understand the downside of professionalism. I’m a mostly-broke college student, and paying a steep illustration fee means going without things like perishable foods or the ability to travel farther than my own feet can carry me. But it also grants at least the remote possibility of moving into the realms of non-ramen meals because people will be more likely to pay for my book.
deviantART offers a wide pool of professional, freelance illustrators. As an ex-art major, I stalk a lot of the galleries and was sort of dumbfounded/thrilled to learn one of my favorite artists had just opened for commissions.
Chandra Free’s darkish, abstract style fits my “nightmare” story beautifully:
Ahem. So, in addition to being a great artist, Chandra Free is a pretty rad human being who offered me a deal getting all four parts of the “Once Upon a Nightmare” series illustrated.