Judging a Book By It's Cover
I was very fortunate to find Louis at Indigo Forest Designs. His process was straight forward, pricing very reasonable and the end product hit all the right marks. And I knew it would because of his portfolio. I found so much I liked in there that I downloaded one of the books!
Here's what I've learned from the Book Designer and other experts as well as noticing books I gravitate toward:
Less is more. With tiny thumbnails all we indie writers have to work with (someday I'm going to have that big giant poster at Barnes and Noble), your cover should be clean looking, with a great focal point.
Genres have a look. For good reason. It's funny how we are attracted to a certain look in our genre shopping. I get the bare chest in romance and soft core, but there's a whole lot more going on all over the genre map. Bright colors in chick lit. Shadows in mysteries. Big houses in historical southern pieces. As a reader in all these genres, I look for these visual cues to find what I think I'll like. You can break the pattern, but if you stray too far your work might not be recognizable to those fans.
Even if you can design stuff, you aren't a book designer. Book designing pros like Louis understand how type treatment works in a book. They weight your name versus your title. They know how to provide depth to an image without muddying it. I've done my share of design work, and even had a cover design for my book, Matchbook. But it looked and felt amatuer hour despite my best efforts. Now I have a cover that measures up to the work I've put into my novel.
Writers should write, designers should design. And we should all read.