Thursday, August 30, 2007

What else is new?

No real news in this article about pretty authors. The author-as-sex-symbol has been coming for a while now. When author photos are larger than the cover of the books in the ads, you know the cult of personality has arrived in the literary world. And no surprise, considering that the big publishing houses are owned by megacorps that also make movies and other entertainments. They're just doing what they know how to do.

And I have to say, I'm not too freaked out. You can't be over 40. You can't be black. You can't be ugly. Blah, blah, blah. This can't really be a surprise to anybody, can it? If I let thinking like this get to me, I'd crawl into the laundry basket next to my kitties and call it a day.

When I got the idea for my first book, I bought a book on writing a nonfiction proposal. It actually stated that if your target audience was black people or older people not to mention it because it would hurt your chances of getting published. Walk Tall ended up with 100,000 copies in print, and I'm self-publishing it with iUniverse with Lou Gossett Jr.'s blessings. (Mr. Gossett tracked me down through my former literary agency when he found out it went out of print.)

Publishing, like most fields, is sexist, ageist and racist. But don't let it stop you. Do your hair, put on a little make-up, wear comfy shoes and smile big for your author photo. Because if you can write and if want it bad enough, you will publish your book.


Lisa said...

Bah. I know this topic gets a lot of buzz and I try to ignore it. The truth be told, I probably have a reverse prejudice against authors who are too "book hot". Yes, I suppose it's wrong of me to assume that if an author photo is especially hot and provocative then the writer can't be all that serious or good -- maybe it's sour grapes :) In all seriousness though, since I'm over 40 I kind of believe that the "hotties" are marketed into a readership that doesn't include me anyway. Coming of age books, ennui and chicklit aren't my thing. I'm more likely to want to read about someone my own age or older. Of course I've always thought brains were sexier than looks anyway.

Heather said...

I thought it was definitely a "food for thought" type of piece and am always surprised by what limited views some people have of authors as a group...

Ms. Peri said...

Jeez Louise! Just read through your blog. I guess only pale, twenty-something, teeny-weeny pretty people who went to Vassar need hope to publish!

So, how's this? To play the game, people of color employ a reverse one-drop theory (you know, "one drop" of black blood makes you black. Well, one drop of white blood and...surprise!) People over 40 use the "real age" calculator to turn back the clock. And oh yes, anyone lacking an Ivy League diploma apply the James Frey approach to credentials.

Presto-change-o! Allow me to introduce myself: My name is Asia Vandersneezern. I'm 28. I have a tee shirt from Vassar. I'm fluent in all sorts of, like, languages and stuff. Oh, and I can write extensively on Paris Hilton, Nicole Ritchie, Lindsey Lohan, world events and whatever.

Perhaps you heard of my two-book, $2 million
deal with Henders (or is that Harpers?) My first book is a novel called "Running Without Panties" and it's, like, the captivating story of a blond, twenty-something singer on the comeback trail (so not Britney Spears!) who, after divorcing her ne'er do well, aspiring rapper husband, is photographed multiple times without underwear, has a mini-breakdown then falls in love with a former pimp turned paparazzo who has a heart of gold.

Oh yeah, and during my 60-city book tour, totally financed by my publisher, I'll talk about my $4 million movie deal, too!

iyan and egusi soup: said...

thank you dear carleen, for the reminder to keep going.

Carleen Brice said...

Lisa, Good attitude!

Heather, The stereotypes that people have of authors are very funny. Mighten some writers be sexy and some be the rest of the public?

Ms. Peri, you crack me up!

Olufunke, You're very welcome.