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 actual art directors when I was an "award-winning Madison Avenue advertising copywriter." Later, without any art directors to partner with, I 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 previously, but they're good enough—and I get what I want with unlimited variations and there's no charge for revisions.
My newest book is now on sale. I won't claim that the cover is perfect or prize-worthy, but I like it a lot and so do some people who are not my relatives. I think the book will attract readers because of the photo, title and subject. You can read more about it here.
It has had three major design variations and about a hundred minor tweaks. Below are a few of the variations I experimented with and rejected.
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 (or maybe not), but would be more costly and not much fun. I'd rather do than watch.