I'm Michael, not Michelangelo. I won't call myself an artist.
I went to art school on Saturday mornings for two years when I was in grade school. I was good with still lifes, vehicles and architecture, but lousy with people pictures. Our teacher told us that an adult human male should be 6.5 heads tall. No one in my family looked like that.
Over the years I won prizes in art classes in school, and enjoyed working with art directors when I was an "award-winning Madison Avenue advertising copywriter." Without any art directors to partner with I've designed packaging, posters, brochures, websites, ads, logos and book covers.
When I started Silver Sands Books back in 2008 I initially planned to publish one book and I found a convenient, talented and reasonably priced artist to work with.
Later on I started doing most of the cover designs myself. I won't say that they're better than what Carina Ruotolo produced, but they're good enough and I get what I want with unlimited variations and no charge for revisions.
[above] Then I decided to make a true rectangular design, rather than the previous square-within-a-rectangle. I stupidly forgot that it's nearly impossible to properly plan for borders around a cover in a print-on-demand book.
[above] The text on the printed covers was a bit blurry because of my enlargement from ebook-size. I did not have Carina's original work so I re-did the text with Microsoft Word.
I also added a contrasting black bar and some hellish flames at the bottom to provide a bit of drama.
[above] I next decided to change the top brag-line from black to yellow, to mimic the color of the flames at the bottom. I also decided to have that line flush-left rather than centered like the rest of the cover. Sadly, some nincompoop at CreateSpace unilaterally decided to center that line by moving the entire cover image to the right. Aaaarrrgghh!
[above] In the next version, I centered the brag line but put it against a block of black, to mimic the bottom of the book.
[above] In what I think will be the final version I abandoned the hellish red in favor of deadly black. The red and yellow text pick up coloring from the flames. I like this design a lot and may re-do the ebook cover like this.
It's possible that a professional artist could have produced a perfect cover without all of the intermediate experimentation I went through. It might have been finished faster, but would be more costly and not much fun. I'd rather do than watch.