Should authors smile in their book jacket photos?

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Should authors smile in their book jacket photos?

Postby AnimaDictio » 31 Aug 2011, 09:36

I was playing around on Google Images and noticed that John Grisham doesn't smile in his publicity photos. Neither does James Patterson. David Baldacci is half and half. Nicholas Sparks is always smiling. Is this based on genre or audience at all?

John Locke isn't smiling in his publicity photo either.
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Re: Should authors smile in their book jacket photos?

Postby Collectonian » 31 Aug 2011, 11:41

I think it just depends on the author and maybe the genre. Almost all romance novelists seem to smile in theirs :-)
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Re: Should authors smile in their book jacket photos?

Postby dios4vida » 31 Aug 2011, 17:14

I think "feel good" book-authors always smile, whereas "gritty" book-authors don't. It's kinda like they want to convey the emotion they want their book to generate in their photos. Take a look at Nora Roberts v. J.D. Robb. Yup, that's the same woman - one in "respectable" clothing & jewelry with a nice smile, the other in jeans and leather looking almost bad-ass. It's all psychology.

Personally, I wouldn't want to see my romance author looking serious or brooding - what kind of romance is this?! Vice-versa, the happy-go-lucky murder mystery might make me wonder, too.
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Re: Should authors smile in their book jacket photos?

Postby sierramcconnell » 01 Sep 2011, 14:50

Begin random statement:

I'm not going to have a book jacket photo. I think it would kill the entire book to have to see some exhausted ugly mug before reading. DEAR GOD WHAT IS THAT.

/random
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Re: Should authors smile in their book jacket photos?

Postby Falls Apart » 02 Sep 2011, 06:34

IMO, it's about the personality the author is trying to convey to their audience. This usually fits with the genre, but not always. For instance, George R. R. Martin is smiling on his, and A Song of Ice and Fire is hardly a feel-good series. But, as stated above, there's no reason for the author of a romance novel to look angry and tough and mysterious; that would come off as pretentious at best, creepy at worst. As a general rule, though, the author will look, in the photo, however they/the publishing company wants them to be perceived by the audience.
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Re: Should authors smile in their book jacket photos?

Postby SciencyLo » 06 Sep 2011, 12:44

I write YA and one thing that seems odd to me is when YA authors have serious/angry face author photos. I'm in my thirties so it's not like I don't get that some writers are more serious people than others, and that some of the subject matter in YA is just as adult as anything in literary fiction, so it's not necessarily a judgement. But for some reason I always expect YA authors to look gentler and maybe a little more friendly. I am weird.
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Re: Should authors smile in their book jacket photos?

Postby Sean Cunningham » 22 Sep 2011, 15:30

Falls Apart wrote:For instance, George R. R. Martin is smiling on his, and A Song of Ice and Fire is hardly a feel-good series.


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Re: Should authors smile in their book jacket photos?

Postby Rachel Ventura » 06 Oct 2011, 05:30

I'm not going to have a photo either if I ever get published. I may just sign up for 2nd Life and create an avatar. ;) Thomas Pynchon doesn't have one except for the paper bag he wore on The Simpsons. Wonder if he doesn't mind sparing another for me.

Lol, I've never seen Mr. Martin's photo. I remember reading Janet Evanovich for the first time when I was like 17 and I seriously thought she was like 30 or late 20s or something! Stephanie Plum, I thought was Janet in disguise. She actually looks good for in her, what, 60s or something?

IDK, would people maybe not buy a book if the author doesn't look like George Clooney or Megan Fox? Lauren from The Hills wrote a novel, but she's, y'know, Lauren Conrad, so that's OK. Rob Lowe just wrote a memoir; so did Rick Springfield a little while back. Still hot in their 50s, btw. (Oh, and Charlie Sheen wrote a book of poetry in 1990. He's obnoxious but at least he's still kinda cute. And he was in '90 too.)

I mean, I've never actually paid much attention to the author's picture. (Like I said, I didn't even know Janet Evanovich was, like, my grandmother.) Stephen King's no Rob Lowe, obviously, but he maintains such a low profile anyway that the story is really what stands out. There aren't even any public pictures of Salinger besides that one on Wikipedia of him in his 40s/50s wearing a suit. I think we live in such an image conscious society that even wannabe authors need to go get a Hollywood makeover or at least look "stylish" if they're to project the right image. Janet smiles on all her books because, well, she's Janet. Grisham looks all professional because he was once a lawyer, and all his books are courtroom dramas. James Patterson usually looks gruff and wears a baseball cap or something. Neil Gaiman looks like he could be some British rock star. 8-) I look like something that crawled out of one of Gaiman's or King's nightmares. (At least that's what I think.)

Me, I'm going to wear that Anonymous mask from V for Vendetta that the 4chan sites are so fond of. ;) Either that or I'll honor the late Mr. Jobs and superimpose the Mac Face over my own. But I tend to be a goofy person anyway, and a lot of what I write is comedic or otherwise satirical, so maybe I'll just give in and smile in my picture. Putting the Pushcart before the Four Horsemen, though, 'cause I haven't even written much of anything yet. :)
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Re: Should authors smile in their book jacket photos?

Postby dios4vida » 06 Oct 2011, 08:17

Rachel Ventura wrote:IDK, would people maybe not buy a book if the author doesn't look like George Clooney or Megan Fox?
... I think we live in such an image conscious society that even wannabe authors need to go get a Hollywood makeover or at least look "stylish" if they're to project the right image.


I don't necessarily think that's true. Sure, stylish-like, but I don't think bibliophiles care about looks like the rest of the world. After all, my favorite authors - Jim Butcher, R.A. Salvatore, Dennis L. McKiernan - none of them are models. Jim Butcher's a goofball with frizzy hair (at least he was until his latest author photo), Salvatore looks like the ubiquitous favorite uncle, and McKiernan's in his mid-70's. Women have a harder time, granted, just because of the societal pressures of being female, but still - Ilona Andrews isn't a supermodel but her books (written with her husband) are amazing.

I think that a decent hair-do, some make-up (I shudder!), and a nice outfit would be enough for any author photo. Hardcore readers don't care what the author looks like, it's the story that counts.
Brenda :)

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Re: Should authors smile in their book jacket photos?

Postby Mira » 07 Oct 2011, 13:24

I think it may be a gender thing.

Men don't smile on covers. Or if they do, it's a half-smile, to look mysterious, a tiny bit seductive or raised eyebrow sardonic, or something like that. This makes them appear confident, strong and cool for writing a book.

Women always smile on book covers. This makes them look like they are nice, kind people who wrote a book to communicate with their potential friends.
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Re: Should authors smile in their book jacket photos?

Postby Rachel Ventura » 07 Oct 2011, 22:23

Mira wrote:Men don't smile on covers. Or if they do, it's a half-smile, to look mysterious, a tiny bit seductive or raised eyebrow sardonic

Image

All three, check. :D
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Re: Should authors smile in their book jacket photos?

Postby sierramcconnell » 08 Oct 2011, 08:23

I respectfully disagree, but only because he's trying to sucker you:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/every-d ... l%2bosteen

Actually, if you look at every single one with him in it, he's smiling stupidly, and it involves his hands in some way. Clasped, at his face, or clapping. It's used to disarm you. I'm a good guy, he's saying. I'm here to help you.

NOT TO ROB YOU. Oh, no. XD
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Re: Should authors smile in their book jacket photos?

Postby Rachel Ventura » 13 Oct 2011, 21:37

sierramcconnell wrote:I respectfully disagree, but only because he's trying to sucker you:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/every-d ... l%2bosteen

Actually, if you look at every single one with him in it, he's smiling stupidly, and it involves his hands in some way. Clasped, at his face, or clapping. It's used to disarm you. I'm a good guy, he's saying. I'm here to help you.

NOT TO ROB YOU. Oh, no. XD


Lol, Pastor Joel must've taken a lesson from the King of Kings! :lol:

Image

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:twisted:
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Re: Should authors smile in their book jacket photos?

Postby Mira » 17 Oct 2011, 13:49

Lol, Rachel - I missed that. The PERFECT cover - for a guy.
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Re: Should authors smile in their book jacket photos?

Postby JohnDurvin » 10 Jan 2012, 23:09

It's entirely to do with the tone of the book. Christopher Moore's picture for "Lamb": he's up to his nose in a playground ball-pit, wearing a cap and a startled expression. Alan Moore always looks like some sort of ancient bearded hermit, but I get the impression that that's entirely accurate. I saw the back of some manly spy-thriller, and the guy was not only scowling as he stared out to the horizon, he was even puffing on a big fat cigar--probably had a highball of brandy in the hand that was cropped out of the picture. It's all about tone.

My favorite author photos of all time, though, are from a dictionary from the 1940's that I got from a thrift shop--yes, they have photos of all hundred-some contributors, most of them bearded white men in mortar-boards, frowning authoritatively, occasionally intermittent with older women looking bemusedly demure. But there's one that really stands out: the Chinese guy they consulted for a few Asian words appears wearing the whole traditional Chinese outfit, down to the queue and tiny hat. I have to wonder if he showed up for the photo like that, or if they made him dress that way.
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