I suppose that might be obvious to some, but I only learned the lesson after I started looking at book covers which authors had had made and compared them to covers created for legacy publishers.
There's a not insignificant number of authors who have gotten their rights back from legacy publishers. Many of these authors have then turned around and re-released their books as ebooks. What's especially interesting about this is that these authors sometimes used the same cover designers that were hired by the legacy publishers.
But not all are using the same designers, which is another secret to a good book cover. There are many cover artists who do good work and can produce a basic cover image, one which can in fact be better than a cover produce for a legacy publisher.
Take the following book, for example. This book was originally published by Pocket Books and after the rights reverted the author then republished it. Two of the covers were paid for by the author and one of the covers is from Pocket. Take a moment to look at the images, and guess which is the original cover.
There is also another cover which shows the main character in leather pants, but the author isn't using it because that one detail screams paranormal romance.
This book is supernatural action set in the modern era with current tech. Which cover gives you the best hints about the genre?
I would go for the cover on the far right. Between the blue accent color, font, and gun I have a pretty good idea what this book is about. The middle cover wins out over the cover on the left because the font and sword at least points in the right direction.
The cover on the left is the one which was put on the book by Pocket. It does offer some of the same hints as the other covers, but it loses a point for the generic font and another point for the sword and shield which you can't quite make out as a thumbnail. And yes, in this day and age the thumbnail image is important; that's what we see first when shopping online (both paper and digital).
I have a couple other examples, but due to the length of this post I will draw a conclusion here rather than proving my point again and again.
One, Rarely will an author find a publisher who cares about the book and understands the book as much as the author. This give the author the advantage when designing important elements like the book cover.
Two, Mr. Nassise has told me that the covers he paid for did not cost an exorbitant sum. His costs were under a hundred dollars each, but he got a deal which you might not be able to match. The important detail is that he worked with each cover artist. He gave the artists specific feedback on rough draft of the covers and helped make them better.
Three, If you are looking for a cover artist, ask other authors (Twitter would be good for this) or you can get a list of specialists from Smashwords: [email protected].
The original cover is the one on the left. I don't know about you but I have no fricking clue what the book is supposed to be about.
Update: I goofed. It turns out that the newest cover is the one on the right. Both of the other 2 came from traditional publishers.
For these next books, the cover on the right was paid for by the author after the rights reverted. The other 2 covers are from the US and UK publishers.