And lots of people do.
My second book, Journey to Altmortis, is better than the first, Bane of Souls. The writing’s tighter, pace is quicker and it’s got a better rating on both Amazon and Goodreads.
But Bane of Souls has sold quite a bit more. Which confounded me, but I think one of the reasons is the cover.
Now, I want to make clear that I chose what I wanted for both of them, and I really like the artwork that was produced by Tiramizsu, my excellent cover artist. The problem isn’t the art, it’s the choice I made.
The cover, and title, of Bane of Souls has been specifically mentioned as a reason for giving it a go. I’ve read elsewhere that covers with a single individual on the front often go down well. Sometimes a symbol/crest can work (perhaps if you don’t have a clear protagonist).
It’s also important to consider a cover that works both in real life and as a thumbnail. You need to get technical stuff like having the title and author name clearly visible right (NB if you’re a big time author like George RR Martin your name will be relatively larger. Otherwise, the title should probably be bigger than the author name).
Then there’s the title. I generally find picking titles difficult (I only chose Bane of Souls very late on. The book has many named characters die, and the plot’s twisty which meant I didn’t want to give anything away). Because of my own difficulty, it’s hard to offer much advice here. I’d just suggest ensuring it fits the genre and sounds fairly interesting.
It’s a little odd to think that years of writing might have less impact on whether a sale is made than the three words in a title or the cover, but I strongly believe that’s the case. So, don’t neglect the title and cover. It’s the first thing a potential reader will see of your book, and might also be the last.