IS THE WRITER’S APPEARANCE A DETRIMENT TO HER OWN WRITING SUCCESS?
When I was growing up, books had plain covers (no representative art), and the only means of interaction between reader and writer were the words on the page.
I usually skipped things like Forewords, and if I read the author’s bio, it was a quick pass, more destined to reinforce his name than anything else, so if I liked the work I could find more by him.
To this day, I have no idea what Robert Heinlein looked like, and only know what Asimov looked like because he was a bit of a media hound (and I had him confused with Einstein, which would have tickled his fancy. I think.).
There are statues of Marcus Aurelius, in stone or bronze, I assume – never even thought to look.
Modern digital life has changed all that
It is almost annoying when an author goes to a great deal of trouble not to let readers know what she looks like.
I prefer actual current photographs for avatars.
It is a problem for those with multiple pen names.
And I wonder just how much it influences the readers, especially in some genres.
Should Romance writers be pretty?
Humans who have sight are very visual creatures. It is estimated (somewhere) that 80% of our energy goes to dealing with visual input.
We react negatively to ugly things – after millenia of evolution that correlated ugly things with things that were often bad for us, such as rotted animals or toxic snakes.
Other things, such as the thickness of the ankles of young women in countries where sunlight was insufficient part of the year – which is an indication of ricketts, a disease which might also have affected her other bones, and make her more likely to have problems in childbirth, have gotten folded into our standards of beauty: thick ankles = not attractive.
I notice the way authors present themselves (check out Kristin Hannah’s Amazon author page) – and wonder how much that affects her sales (she’s gorgeous, and that’s a great photo). Wonder how any others can compete.
Do readers wonder if any of what’s in the stories is based on experience?
What about opinionated authors?
What do you think of authors whose claim to fame includes a very solid amount of in-your-face-ness? Are you more likely to read their books?
I loved Rudyard Kipling stories; reading about his attitudes has put a bit of a damper on reading his books, and would make me think hard about gifting them to a grandchild if I had one.
I make judgments about people based on their appearance
All the time.
I also immediately catch myself at it now, and look at those judgments dispassionately to see how much might be true. I have managed to change my own opinions quite a bit by a continued practice, and no longer automatically make some judgments which used to bother me a lot because they were so automatic, and couldn’t possibly be true.
But I’m wondering if, in the race for sales, those who look good have an unfair advantage. Again.
At least in getting started in the race.
Choose how you present yourself online
Not suggesting this should change, but I can’t quite stop making those automatic judgments about the photos that people choose to represent themselves with on their author page. Or avatar. Or book cover.
The good thing is that it is usually just at a few places, say Amazon, FB, your blog, and they don’t get to see what you look like first thing in the morning.
I need to work on that.