Now it's all blown up in my face here because of this article: When selling books means getting the right look
It is worth reading a comment on Shipley's blog from Emma Barnes, the managing director of independent publisher Snowbooks. She explained why she's gone for a lighthearted "garden parties and designer clothes" approach for Sue Hepworth's Zuzu's Petals, despite this not really fitting with the tone of the book.
Her first attempt didn't work. The bookshops were absolutely uninterested in ordering stock, and she got just 19 orders after six months of trying to sell it in. "So at the very last minute, I redesigned the cover, and it was promptly selected for three-for-two or front-of-store promotion in two major retailers. We've sold several thousand copies so far," Barnes writes.
"A publisher's role is to get our authors' writing in front of readers," she says. "Cover design is one of the main ways to do that. By designing this cover, I've done my job by ensuring that several thousand people have the chance to read, assess and hopefully enjoy Sue's writing, compared to 19 people - and Snowbooks has stayed in business to bring even more writing to readers."
Emphasis added by me.
OK, now let me get to Zoe's comment in passing, in a post that is actually about retaining eBook rights and possible publication for the abominable Kindle:
One problem might be covers. I can see a publisher being unwilling to let an author use the cover for his/her own book to upload their own electronic file version of the book into Kindle because that’s taking potential money out of their pocket. They’re going to want to be able to maintain electronic rights especially for something as hands off and basically “free money” as the Kindle edition. So if that’s the case, one might have to worry about an ebook version cover. Still, it’s not prohibitively expensive to have an ebook cover designed that is in keeping with the original theme of the original cover but not the original cover and not infringing on the original cover copyright.
I’m not sure how much covers matter on a kindle. Maybe they matter a lot, but I’m not really sure if that’s the case or not.
Emphasis added by me.
I left a Comment, but because it had a few links, it's probably wallowing in her Akismet spamtrap.
Basically, I pointed her to this post, this post, and this post here at this blog.
I also made the point that the cover is what people will see first when they look at an eBook's Internet listing. That's the first impression they'll have.
A cover will attract or repel potential readers.
Look at this infamous one:
Would you ever think anything other than gay erotica?
Now look at this one for the same book:
That's pretty unambiguous, isn't it? (Still rather misleading, however; it makes it seem like a thriller potboiler; it's really one of the first -- if not the first -- alternate history novels: "What if America had lost World War II?")
So, yes, covers do matter. They can make or break a sale.
If you still disbelieve me, here are two different covers with the same "story" underneath:
Which one screams "superhero" to you as a potential car customer? (Underneath both wrappings is the same car!)