Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Author's Face

Does the author's face sell a book?

This question was posed during one of my recent meetings, and I am soliciting opinions.

Some authors want their photographs on the cover of their book. A cover is like expensive real estate so when we take up space with their faces, we'd like to know that those faces will help to sell the book. If the faces don't sell the book, then what is the purpose of having them posted there?

Other authors are good with having their photographs inside the book, usually accompanied by "About the Author" which follows their story. But is it really necessary to have their faces in front of the public? Or is reading about their qualifications sufficient?

I have to admit, when I think of F. Scott Fitzgerald, I can't picture him. Neither can I picture Harper Lee, Margaret Mitchell, William Faulkner or Tennessee Williams. I know I can Google their images, but did their faces help sell their books to me? Obviously not.

Some authors are opposed to having their faces on their books, and they avoid them on their websites. This could be due to a wide variety of reasons. Sometimes, they write under a pen name and they wish to keep their private lives and their public writing completely separated. Sometimes they have issues with the way they look - maybe they think they're overweight or they have a physical handicap or they don't think they take good pictures.

At Drake Valley Press, we solicit the author's opinion regarding using their likeness, and we try to accommodate them - whether it means their picture will appear on the cover, inside the book or not at all.

But I'm wondering: when you are considering purchasing a book, how much does the author's photograph sway you one way or the other?

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