Author’s Photograph Essential In Marking A Book: A Book is Only as Good as the Writer’s Photo

Portrait of a Modern Novelist
Portrait of a Modern Novelist

Want to get your book published? Say ‘cheesy’!

“Author’s Photograph Essential In Marking A Book” a podcast from NPR

“Can you pose?”    Now followed by, “Can you Write?”    Gotta look good for the book jacket.

On NPR Morning Edition, Martha Woodroof reports for WMRA

This is a short podcast (under 4min.) on the somewhat appalling trend in book marketing based, in part, on an author’s photo.

I suppose though, as a photographer, that I should hail the use of photographic portraiture. After all, there aren’t many areas where a corporate design department must use a unique photograph, instead of just buying rights to generic stock photos. Unlike my use of the above photo! Hah!

Go to the NPR page “Author’s Photograph Essential In Marking A Book”

And, after all, appearances are an essential part of how individuals and groups filter the world. We must make decisions about threats, resources, entertainment time, etc. We judge everyone else based on aspects of appearance, gender, age, cultural styling, etc. Why not judge authors? What? Their exercise of intellect should give them a free pass on what everyone else must endure?

I say, “book ’em”, equalize the playing field and only use mugs shots for book jackets? Maybe passport photos? High school yearbook photos? (What about us HS dropouts then?)

Perhaps, instead of too revealing photographic portraits, we should have alabaster busts commissioned, and placed in the inner coffee sanctums of the Border’s cafe’.

And how do we deal with the dearly departed authors of our publishing desires? I’m thinking Willie the Shakes, or Homer (the early one), or any of the pre-camera obscura faint past scribblers. Maybe a generic avatar would suffice?

Again, as a photographer, I come down on the side of the photographer and her/his work is an essential part of our world. Good portraiture can be useful, and possibly even timeless.

Ken Storch

Updated 4-14-09: A newer related topic blog has been posted The Art Of The Headshot: Everyone’s A Real Estate Agent at the also dealing with portraits and image.

Author: P U

4 thoughts on “Author’s Photograph Essential In Marking A Book: A Book is Only as Good as the Writer’s Photo

  1. I heard this story on NPR, thanks for repeating it. I’m still deciding how to portray myself on the book jacket of the book I haven’t written yet.

    1. Well, as a professional, I’d recommend targeting your NPR lovin’ public by looking sexily intellectual and political, with a tang of sass and definite investment and snoot possibilities. You know, for the inevitable party invitations and round tables at the Algonquin.

  2. Based on the upturned collar and close shave, I would have taken the guy in the photo to be a postmodernist. Well as they say, “don’t judge a book by its author’s cover photo.”

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