Originally Posted by gmw
On the subject of professional cover designs: not all of them are so great. I see quite a lot come out that are so obviously cobbled together from clipart and seem to offer little in the way of making a book look appealing. This is true even (especially?) on books by big names published by big publishers.
I am not certain that there is anything anyone can do to make a book reliably stand out from a page full of small thumbnails - especially when matched up against books of the same genre
Thanks GMW. I too have seen some bad cover designers out there; I'm not even sure I would use the word "professional" to describe their work. There are also the designers who work with very formulaic templates (Harlequin romances, etc.). It's not my cup of tea, but on the other hand it may be what their readers expect, and the designers don't have much flexibility to do something original or bold.
For those designers who do have good-looking covers, I've always wondered about their processes -- are they working from templates? How much back and forth takes place with the author? My designer came from the magazine world, which has a certain way of working with clients (lots of design comps, iterative process, etc.) but that may not be normal.
As for your thumbnail point, I think it really depends on the genre. For mystery novels, I think it will be hard to stand out because authors are using the similar fonts, themes, colors, etc. For my genres (software/education/reference) there is a lot of variation, and a lot of poorly done covers, which makes it easier to stand out if you have something bold or striking.
Someone asked me why I didn't use the blue cover in the second set of designs (Dropbox is blue, and it looks more aesthetically pleasing). My answer: When I shrunk it to thumb size and superimposed it over the Amazon search for "Dropbox book" it didn't really stand out. The orange cover does (you can try this yourself, save the image from my blog and then crop it to the different colors, and superimpose it over the same search terms).