Let’s get superficial. At a party a few days ago, I ended up having conversation with Marion Ettlinger (who is, it turns out, a kick in the pants). While I idiotically pretended I knew very little about her work, she spoke about photographing authors as “a calling.” In other words, once she began doing it, she very quickly realized that she wanted to do nothing else. She liked taking pictures, she said, of people whose notoriety comes from something entirely other than the way they look.
I have a couple books coming out next year, and I’ve decided to put author photos on both of them–different photos, at least one of which is silly–but it strikes me as a pretty questionable decision. Why indeed put a photo of yourself on a book? Doesn’t it just distract people from your work? Shouldn’t an author be concerned that it will effect people’s judgment? We’ve all heard the rumors about how some young authors–even literary authors–are given a bigger advance if they’re attractive.
If you’ve had a book out, did you put an author photo on the cover? Whether or not you did, was it something you specifically decided, or did you just go along with the publisher’s expectations? If you haven’t had a book out yet, have you already decided what your author photo will be? How did you make the decision? Is it simply “looking your best?” Or is it looking your most literary. Or is it something else.