The Right Stuff
Did you happen to read the Essay in the back of the NYT's book review today?http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/26/books/review. It's all about the pressures put on authors today to be marketable entities. It's not enough to just write a book anymore; now you have to become the face that launched a thousand shippings. The competition for space in bookstores (there were some 150,000 books published last year) has created a frenzy among publishers who are desperate to get their authors noticed. Sexy book jacket pix, an insouciant TV style, the ability to articulate the odd alchemy that goes into making fiction -- it's all required ingredients in the complete promotional package. Writers aren't expected to just SELL their products; they are increasingly expected to BE the products. Most my writer friends hate this idea, yet they grumble and groan and play the game, in varying degrees. Some of them are naturals at this promotional thing. But pity the poor girl whose words make you weep but who never got over thinking that Janis Ian's "Seventeen" was her personal sound track. Or pity the poor guy who spins gold on paper but can't speak in public without breaking out in flop-sweat. Wanna be the next Author du Jour? Forget about learning the craft. Just go get those teeth Starbrited, bunky. I know I am naive and maybe a tad bitter, but do people who love books really care what the author looks like?