In my mind, covers are just as important as the beginning of your book. Just as important as craft, story, and dialogue. Just as important as anything you do with your book.
Covers are what draw people to your books. They aren’t even going to read the title if the picture doesn’t draw. Guaranteed they won’t pick it up to read the back, much less to peek at the first few pages.
When I was hunting for a publisher for The Last Griffin, I had three interested. They were all on a par with readership, they all had a decent marketing program, and they all paid close to the same royalty. The deciding factor was the cover art.
Every time I put out a table of all my books, I always get remarks on how beautiful they are. And I admit, they strike a lovely picture.