It has recently come to my attention that choosing a cover artist is a difficult decision. Most don't know where to start. Others aren't sure if they should base their cover artist on price or style.
Here's my two cents: (actually, let's make that three cents)
The single most important thing you can do when it comes to choosing a cover artist is to look at their style. Ignore price at this point. Compare all the artist's designs. Each artist has a unique style that may or may not work with your vision. For instance, I never fade images. All my images are bold. I don't use floating heads as I think that is unprofessional and creepy.
Once you have chosen a style or a look from a cover artist, then compare turnaround time. I have known authors to wait months for their covers. To me, that's ridiculous. A great artist can create a fantastic cover in a few weeks.
Having narrowed down your artists by style and turnaround time, it's now time to choose an artist based on price. Never pay more than $200.00 for a cover if you are an Indie author. Prices range from $50.00 to $200.00. My covers have a cost of $75.00 or $125.00 for the back, front, and spine. Please don't choose cheap. There are artists, and then there are "artists". I have seen some really horrid covers that people have actually paid for. The cover was unprofessional and sloppy. Please don't choose an artist based on price. I understand that price is an issue but a professional cover will pay off in the end.
If you're nervous about working with a cover artist, check out the following sites: romancenovelcovers.com and deviantart.com
Romancenovelcovers.com offers pre-made covers for $45.00. They are professionally made so you know you have quality work. The only downside is that other authors might have your cover. At romancenovelcenter.com, you can actually browse artists works.
Deviantart.com is a collection of artists, crafters, photographs--you name it. This place is great for browsing, finding photos/models, and for inspiration.
If you choose the wrong cover artist--such as based on price--you will only be disappointed. Make sure your artist is the right fit for you. Don't try to mold the artist to suit your needs.
Here are some pointers for interacting with the artist:
--Never assume you know more than the artist. It's insulting. If you knew more, then you should create the cover yourself.
--Always start off on a positive note even if you hate the mockup cover. The artist took a great deal of time to create this for you. You know how it feels to get a bad review after you have worked your tail off on a book. The artist puts blood, sweat, and tears into a cover. Show some respect.
--When it comes to revising the cover, list the changes. Be nice.
--Whatever you do, DON'T COMPARE ARTISTS! I dropped a client because of this. She kept mentioning her other artist. Well then, use the other artist. It is very rude to mention another artist as if you don't have to be with your current one. As if your current artist is a charity case.
--Artists have feelings. Treat them as human beings not as your personal servants. They have other clients that take up their time as well.
In summation, do your research. The artist will be creating a face for your "baby". Choose wisely. Above all, be professional and friendly. :-)