Very few first time authors have much say in the cover design (unless they are already famous for something else). I appreciate your irritation (I was able to demand my publishers amend the cover of my book as they had ^spelt my fucking name wrong^). But Novelist is right - you might find it easier to reinvent yourself with a new pseudonym. Good luck.
Did you have no say in the cover design etc, Jack? And is the second novel committed to the first publisher or not? How would you describe what you do - is it literary fiction and you feel you're being genre-ified?
I think the most freeing publishing discovery for me was learning that I could change my name at any point, take a pseudonym and reinvent myself as an author (the first time this happened it was forced upon me by a publisher, mind you, but I'm glad it was in retrospect). I honestly think the key is to write a lot and write a lot of the one type of ms that publishers might actually want. It is a business, after all. Soul-destroying, isn't it?!
My first book is due out soon - mid-sized independent publisher. Fcking delighted as I am to be published, I hate the packaging. All girly and female looking winsomely into middle-distance. My second novel has a male protagonist, some swords and literary pretensions, and my agent is recommending dumbing it down and publishing it under a male name.
If your protagonist is a young woman, you're chick-litted and pinkified. If your protagonist is a man, and living in a violent era, you're undermined in a different swords 'n sandals way.
What do you need to do to be taken seriously, besides abandon plot and readability....
Sorry, this is a bit grumpy. I am lucky to have an agent and a book deal. But. But. But.