I recently read to book called something like “The Land of Starbeams and Moonlight” (not actual title btw). The flowery title was accompanied by a dark cover of a woman lying on the ground in a Pretty Dress. At this point the Pretty Dress cover is familiar to anyone who reads YA, and, intrigued, I bought it.
Turns out the title had nothing to do with the book or its story. The lady in the pretty dress didn’t at all resemble the protagonist, who, as a citizen of authoritarian dystopia with problems supporting its population, would unlikely find herself lounging about in evening wear. As such, I instantly forgot the name of the book and when I went to google it midway through reading it, I had to go and look up the title. I had literally no idea what it was called. Seeing the cover again, I was again surprised – it was basically like seeing it for the first time I recognized it so little.
Obviously, these are bad things. You want the title and cover to grab your readers but you also want them to remember them once they buy the book. I picked up this book expecting one thing and getting another – in my case, I was mostly ok with it, but in another who knows. It shook my confidence in the book, and I read the rest of it feeling more like an editor or reviewer rather than someone just reading for pleasure.