Here's an interesting vid with much food for thought. Designing Book Covers 101 sorta
So, yes, I agree with everything on the surface. There are always exceptions and this is of course his opinion.
But let's talk about the whole font thing.
I think that's one of the most problematic elements of designing a cover and over the past 19 months I've tried numerous fonts and passed on most because I didn't think they worked. I'm not sure I agree that a font like Times New Roman or Arial screams homemade but I am sure that weird fonts do. Something like Curlz which is cute is just too cute PLUS it's very difficult to read in thumbnail size. Arial is easy to read in thumbnail. So score one for Arial.
One of my favorite--love it!--fonts is the very elegant cursive font I use to watermark my photos. It doesn't work on a cover. I tried it with Fling. It doesn't work. And I'm willing to go so far as to say cursive does not work in 99% of the attempts. The scrollier something is, the more curls, the more bends or angles, the harder to read. That's reality.
When I was looking to do housekeeping on my hard drive I realized I had way too many fonts stored for any rational non graphic designer. There are a couple I use and go back to them every time after trying 25 others.
What fonts? A couple are marking pen types like I used for Summer Horse. I want to fall in love with a san serif font but I haven't yet. I used Trajan Pro for Flash and used it again for Flash 2 (yes, the cover is done). I tried a couple others but with the lighting effect, they weren't substantial enough.
Finding the right font is an investment in time. I can't imagine how many hours I've spent looking at fonts--it's that important.
As for the vid's point #1 that the author's name should be large. It depends. I've said before I don't like text cluttering up the design. For me, as a photographer, I generally don't like to see text on the image so I don't do it. Should your name be bigger? Maybe your name should be as big as your ego. I don't know.
I invite you to scroll through the cover images on the right. The ones on top are my design. When you get to the Gingerbread thing, the Wish You Were Here books, the Idiot book--those are all Big Six books. Can you see my name on any of them?
What offends my sense of design more than how large an author's name is, is how crappy the color choices are.
Blue or black text on a yellow background doesn't work for me. Outlining the text in black with the idea that it will stand out more effectively doesn't work for me. Amateurish artwork on the cover is really bad and there's no excuse when you can get a stock photo or vector graphic for $3.
So for me the simpler the font the better. Make it readable. What I do is get up from the computer and walk a couple steps away from the computer to see what the design looks like from a distance. If I can read it and understand it, I'm fine. If not, I make it more readable.
The less confident in your abilities as a designer--and you know I want you to do your own covers--the simpler they should be. Look at covers on Amazon . Learn from them. Mimic the techniques. You can do it.