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Take your book design at face value. A professional designer is worth every penny. The next time you're in the bookstore, take the time to examine the book cover designs—ninety-nine out of every hundred of those book covers were likely professionally designed. If your book doesn't look good on the outside people will be a lot less likely to look at the inside. Normally, the first thing you notice about a person is his or her face. The cover is your book's face.
*If you are only planning on publishing a minimal number of books (for friends and family) paying for professional design is a waste of money.