"A picture is worth a thousand words." That saying may be ages old but its message is just as vital today as when it was first uttered. Simply put, a single image can often communicate what might take you one thousand words (more or less) to say or write.
You have already spent the time putting together an ebook or software package that you want to market on the Internet. You have chosen the right words for your title and any other text you might use on the book cover.
Now you have to carefully design your cover to best represent your book or software. You have to find the right graphic(s) that will support the title and enhance the perceived value of your ebook.
There are two common forms of graphics: clip art and stock photos. Take some time exploring sites providing stock photos and clip art. It can be a lot of fun. First of all, what is clip art? There are many differing opinions out there. Some call it "ready-made art" because sometimes clip art can include photos, pictures, or complete illustrations. But, for the sake of this article, we are defining clip art to mean: All ready-made pieces of digital art, such as illustrations, borders and line drawings that are used as graphic elements in a document. They can be either raster images (jpeg, tiff, bmp, gif) or vector images (eps, wmf, ai). They can be black and white, or color.
Regardless of what you call it, clip art should be used sparingly in quality ebook covers or software boxes. The fact is, clip art can range in quality from rough drawings to refined images. But, clip art is never mistaken for high quality paintings or photos. It is not intended to be the only or the primary image in a larger work (like an ebook cover).
Perhaps the best rule of thumb is: If you are not sure if you should use a piece of clip art in your document (ebook cover, box cover), don't use it. If you are not careful, the wrong choice of clip art can imply a lack of quality.
The above statements notwithstanding, clip art can, if used properly, be an effective element in a quality ebook cover. Where do you find graphics? Without a doubt, there are many sites where you can get images and photos you can use. There are literally hundreds of Web sites where you can find clip art of all types and quality. Just search online for "free clip art", "free images", or "free graphics." Some may require that you sign up for a free membership.
When using an image for your ebook cover, make sure it is okay to use in a commercial situation, and check to see if you have to pay for that use, or if there are other requirements like giving the author/photographer credit for the image. You can also purchase large collections of clip art on CD sets in computer stores or on the Internet.
Good luck in your search for the right images. Finding the right picture will make your efforts worthwhile. It will increase sales of your ebook or software. If you find yourself a little lost trying to find the right images and design of your cover, then perhaps you should consider hiring an experienced graphic designer to produce the cover for you.