Going indie means a lot of things. First, that I get to control everything. Which also means I have to handle everything. Sounds like the same thing, right? Well, having total creative control is wonderful. No one tells me what my next book has to be about. I can tell the stories I want to tell, in the way I want to tell them. But, it's up to me to make sure that the quality is professional, the cover and blurb are on point, and that somehow the wonderful world of paranormal romance readers realizes I exist. And all expenses come out of my pocket. There's no advance. But, that means the success I find is mine, and it's oh so gratifying.
There are a lot of great tools that I use to create my books from cover to cover, paperback and ebook alike. For the indie author on a tight budget, who also is artistically inclined, I definitely recommend checking out these amazing freebies. Just for the record, I'm not saying you should pass up buying a cover. If you use MS Paint and you can scroll down Amazon's search page and spot your cover because it looks like it doesn't belong with the rest, you definitely should buy a cover from a professional. If you don't, you're only hurting your chance of selling the novel you've put your blood, sweat, and tears into. That said, I love digital art and have found a lot of amazing tools for both covers and other graphics.
Here's a few favorites from my Author Toolbox:
I know. I know. Everyone says you need Photoshop. I have an old version of Photoshop that I've used a bit. Now, Adobe offers a pay per month subscription to use their tools. If it's within your budget, go for it. Personally, I've had a great experience with freeware. Gimp works a lot like Photoshop and is great for photo editing and putting together covers. If you check out my first batch of covers, I had not yet discovered the awesomeness of Gimp.
Inkscape is a vector program. So if you scale up an image, you don't get the pixely weirdness you would if you were working with a photograph. I like to draw freehand, with pen and paper, then scan in my sketch and make it smooth and perfected in Inkscape by drawing over the image with vectors. This allows me to play with sizes, symmetry, and color. I use Inkscape for my logos, and the kind of font work that gimp doesn't support.
There are a lot of great fonts out there. 1001 Fonts offers a wide variety. Some are free for commercial use. Some aren't. So be sure to read the terms that come along with each.