This is worth reading: Mandy Roth's process Cover art in the smaller presses.
The bigger publishers--it's a whole different story.
But since I deal with the little guys, lately....I have a strong new opinion and my attitude has changed. A lot. As in I now believe my opinion shouldn't matter at all.
Seriously, dudes, what I like isn't relevant and, these days, when I see that form asking me for my preferences, I wonder why do they ask me?
My name might be on the cover, but this is a project involving specialists in all sorts of fields. Do they think I know what sells or doesn't sell? I know the sort of covers I prefer, but I'm too close to the story plus--and this is more important-- my tastes might not match other readers, the people who'll actually buy my book.
At that point, once the publisher has acquired my story and used my input to turn the book into something polished [sidenote: BUT HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, NOT JUST MY INPUT PLEASE. Thank you.]Anyway . . . . once I'm done with the text, my preferences shouldn't matter because I'm not the expert.
I do know about art, thank you SMFA, but I haven't taken marketing classes. I haven't surveyed the readers to find out what they like to see on their books.
I hope someone at the publisher has done just those things. If they haven't, then I'm in a lot more trouble than if they put up a red curly title instead of blue san serif one.
Obviously I know certain things: Bad photoshopping is icky. Having a blonde heroine and a brunette on the cover annoys a lot of readers.
But that's basic stuff and the art department knows that, too, right? I hope? And I hope they give a damn about that stuff, too. IF they don't seem to know or care about production quality, then yeah, my opinion suddenly is relevant again--to me, anyway.
Otherwise, it shouldn't make the slightest bit of difference if I loathe those cut off head torsos or those peculiar montages or I feel nausea at the sight of pumped-up mantitty. If the readers like them, and the art department does the style right, I'll shut the fuck up. Mostly.
But sometimes I can't and then I hold a contest to make sure everyone sees the awesomeness that is a cover. (It's old, but still a classic.)