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What makes a good book cover?

Front cover Who to BlameFirst and foremost, the cover is a sales tool.  In a flash, it must convey enough information to grab potential readers.  An appealing cover communicates the book’s genre as well as the age and gender of its readership.  Is it a laugh-out-loud coming-of-age story?  Or a dark cyberpunk fantasy?  The artwork must be harmonious with the type font and size and needs to be unique but not out in left field.  A well-designed cover conveys a broad concept rather than fine details.  It must be legible even when viewed as an Amazon thumbnail. 

My publisher supplied me with several options.  I quickly learned that asking the opinions of friends merely complicated the issue.  Their opinions were scattered all over the map.

 Ultimately, the two covers below didn’t make the cut.                                                                               

 4 covers 6.16.16 1 4 covers 6.16.16 2