I recently made an acquaintance through an online critique site. After the initial hello's were over, she invited me to check out her book at her website. When I clicked on the link, I realized that I'd been there before, because I recognized the cover of her book.
Now, to be honest, I didn't like the cover. In addition to this, I could tell several things right away from it.
• The author had self-published.
• The artist who had created her cover was not a professional artist.
The unfortunate result? I had no desire to open the book and find out what was inside, because I'm a visual person and the cover was an immediate turn-off.
I would suppose that this is one of the hazards of self-publishing. Almost no writers who self-publish are also professional artists. Also, if they are self-publishing, it's not likely they know any professional artists or illustrators who work in the publishing industry who can offer either help or advice when it comes to a cover. Because of this, self-publishing writers have to either create a cover themselves, get one from the vanity press/independent publisher they're working with (I don't like some of their covers, either), or rely on artistic friends who are willing to help out.
The truth is, even though the book might have been a great one, I wasn't likely to go past the cover in order to find out. Since the cover looked unprofessional, something in me wondered if the writing in the book was going to turn out that way too.
Today I read that 70 percent of books published don't earn back their advance. Wow. That's a lot of money that publishers, even with their marketers, distributors, editors, proofreaders, and professional designers, aren't getting much of a return on. Yikes. If you're self-publishing, you're competing against people like this. Can you afford to come up with a cover that doesn't give a potential purchaser any reason to pick up your book?
How about you? Do you judge a book by its cover?