Thursday, December 26, 2013

Are Authors Sexy Enough For The Books They Write?

One would think being a good-looking author would be an advantage for the promotion of a book. But what happens when an asset becomes a burden?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; but let’s face it – some people are better-looking than others, by most objective standards.  Though there may not be a single way to measure beauty, most people would agree about things such as body size, height/weight proportion, skin quality, hygiene, hair, a smile, etc. So when an author seems to meet the criteria of being attractive, perhaps even sexy, what role does this play in a book publicity campaign?

Certainly, the more visual one is, the more likely he or she is drawn to doing things that promote his or her good looks. Such a person is drawn to TV, online video, and photos. The cover of the book may be draped with the author’s image. The Web site might be image-focused and less content-oriented. The press release may highlight images over words. The key is to balance the physical beauty with the inner beauty, to come across as a beautiful being, not just being beautiful. Style and substance must blend together – and never should style dominate so obviously.

For certain genres or books, the subject matter warrants a visual connection or a highlighting of something worth staring at.

Coffee table books, books on fashion, exercise, travel, photography, home design and nature lend themselves to showcasing images of beauty, and it doesn’t hurt if the author is equally as attractive as his or her subject matter.

But books on home repair, dog training, and taxes don’t seem to need a pretty face to sell them. Yet, romance books, wedding planning manuals, and books about relationships seem to lure a reader’s expectation into thinking that the author has to be attractive and having a sexually active life.

They say not to “judge a book by its cover,” but do consumers judge a book by the looks of its author?

With the use of social media, one’s looks are becoming more important. You now hear an author’s voice, see their face and body, and read their words. You feel like you live with them, following 24/7 updates on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, blogs, and media postings. Most people are drawn to a book – its content – first and foremost. Whether an author is ugly or hot, most won’t buy a book unless they feel they will find it useful or enjoyable. But no doubt, an author’s credentials, looks, media exposure, and past writings can influence buying decisions.

So what does one do if they want to exploit their looks? This is usually when things get out of hand, when authors lead with muscles and breasts, and not their minds or character. Authors sometimes become imbalanced, highlighting their looks, while letting their ideas, research, words, and creativity get lost in the process. But good-looking authors should not shy away from opportunities to reasonably showcase their beauty.

So what’s reasonable?

Don’t wear gaudy jewelry or use hair products excessively.
Don’t wear skimpy, tight clothing.
Don’t comport yourself in a flirty, almost drunk manner.

Keep the attention more on your face – as well as your heart, head, and soul. Don’t let your looks become a distraction. Make sure that you act as if you were the least attractive person in the room, and feel obligated to go out of your way to impress people with your ideas, level of vocabulary, and your compassion. Be beautiful without announcing that you are.

Opposite of the problem of how to contain one’s overflow of sex appeal and raw beauty is the issue of what to do if you are merely ordinary in the looks department, or even tipping the scale towards being unattractive.

The short answer is: Who cares!?

Looks shouldn’t play a role in whether someone buys your book. But they can, in some cases, so if there’s a way to minimize or maximize one’s looks, there’s no reason not to try. There are many simple solutions available.

First solution: Cover up a shortcoming with clothes, make-up or body posture.

Second: Make a change, if possible, such as losing weight, going with a new hairstyle, making cosmetic changes to your teeth or body, or taking vitamins/drugs to help with a condition.

Third: Distract people from focusing on what is perceived as a drawback, and get them to focus on your asset.

Fourth: Ignore all of this and play up any type of perceived weakness or shortcoming, and seek to make fun of it, or somehow turn it into a plus.

Fifth: Do nothing to hide a shortcoming, and hope other consumers with a similar setback will identify with, and even support you because of it.

We know looks play a role in the facets of life, so one’s appearance certainly plays a role in the success of an author’s book publicity campaign. We’d be na├»ve to think otherwise. Assess your appearance, and determine what should be played up or downplayed, and strive to find the right balance so that consumers can go beyond appearances, and get to what really counts: the seductive beauty of words. 


Here is my 2014 Book Marketing & Publicity Toolkit: Based on 20+ years in publishing --

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2013

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