So far so good. But despite the fact that it was designed by a professional designer, the cover didn't appeal to one bookseller. The person in question has been incredibly supportive in the past, so I really was naturally disappointed by her lack of enthusiasm. That disappointment was compounded by the fact that the book in question was one of my own. She'd no idea why, the cover just didn't do it for her. However she kindly promised to take it home and read it.
Today I popped back in to see her. I'd had favourable responses from other bookstores and hoped she'd changed her mind.
But again I was disappointed. She still couldn't quite tell what she didn't like about the book, although now she added that she'd found an awful lot of typos in it – saying she's never noticed typos before in books. (The book was actually proofread in hard copy by three different people.) I've just checked it again and found just one – the one she mentioned herself.
All first editions have the odd typo or print error, although readers mostly miss them because they're engrossed in the story. However I felt that this bookseller had set her mind against the book – purely on the basis of a cover she didn't like – and was looking to justify that gut feeling. It's happened before, by a different bookseller, to one of our other author's books. Without opening the book at all, the bookseller was set on proving that it was poorly written.
It's human nature, really. When we have a gut feeling but we're not sure why, we all look for other random justifications for that instinct. We can't change that, nor should anyone try. But it does demonstrate how important a cover is to a book, and that even using a professional designer (at no small cost) is no guarantee of success.
(First published on LinkedIn)