I had the same problem... dry, cracking, bumpy, puckering fondant, downright UGLY!
So, about a year ago, I decided to buy a DVD. I'm one of those people that IF I can see something demonstrated, I can usually do it much better than if I just read instructions.
I have been covering cakes with fondant for about 3 years, and up until the time that I bought a DVD that teaches the art of covering a cake with fondant .... it was always a crap shoot when I covered a cake in fondant, I never knew if the cake would turn out really well, or really bad... but I ALWAYS planned lots of decorations so that I could hide all of the flaws, especially at the base of the cake where my fondant AWAYS puckered!!
the DVD is by Jennifer Dontz and it's called "the easy & tasty way to perfect fondant". the DVD cost @ 29 dollars. Since I bought that DVD, I feel like I can cover a cake in fondant without having a panic attack or losing sleep... my last cake even had one tier with any decorations! It's the best thing that I've ever bought that helped me improve my skills as a cake decorator!
I'm sure there are other DVD's on the market that demonstrate the same technique, I think Sharon Zambito may have one on the market... but IF you can get your hands on some sort of demonstrational DVD, I highly recommend it!
Here is a link for the DVD that I bought: