I knew I wanted an old-world feel. I browsed "harem" pictures until I came across this one:
The painting is 'The Slave Market' by Jean-Leon Gerome, painted in the late 1800s. After one hundred years, no copyright applies.
I wanted to isolate the woman on the left, so I edited the photo in GIMP.
(download GIMP here http://www.gimp.org/)
GIMP is an open-source photo editing software similar to Adobe Photoshop, but of course free.
I downloaded some open source fonts from Open Font Library.com and used them as a title. Then I added a middle-eastern style watermark to the background and a black border. Changed the brushes and added some red stamps around the border, some more shadow, and some highlights to the font. Viola, a new ebook cover.
Though I do enjoy hiring a cover artist here or there to create a custom cover, creating my own at absolutely no charge is just as satisfying. Photo editing isn't as difficult as it seems. I suggest playing around with the software on photos that you don't intend to use. Watch tutorials on how to add layers and mask unwanted aspects of a picture. Then find open-source graphics and fonts. Have fun creating :)
Videos that were helpful to me:
HOW TO ADD FONTS TO GIMP
HOW TO ADD TRANSPARENCY TO AN IMAGE IN GIMP
The basics to GIMP: Adding layers, the clone tool, filters, and brushes.
INTRODUCTION TO LAYERS IN GIMP
CLONE TOOL TUTORIAL
BEGINNER TUTORIAL FOR BRUSHES