There’s a reason why novelists don’t put their photos on the cover of their books the same way the latest hip-hop stars pose on theirs.
Let’s face it: novelists hide in dark quiet corners, hunched over a screen, tapping out nerdy words for hours on end. Novelists have disheveled hair, four-eyed faces, pale skin, rounded-waistlines and a host of other descriptions never seen on the cover of Vogue without spending hours in the Photoshop chop-shop. Novelists don’t spend a lot of time at the gym, but you might find them sitting for hours under a tree, looking at the pattern of ant columns while waiting for the perfect murder clue to make itself obvious so it can be plopped into the latest plot. (How can that ant carry that leaf on its back? Ah-ha! New superhero idea!) Novelists create words of grittiness and glamour, of fantastical realms and hard-truth real-life. They wipe away image and pretentiousness to delve into the heart of the matter–the uncovered motive, the sheer nakedness of belief which leads to any manner of sordid tales. Novelists eat too much, sleep too little, drink too much, exercise too little. (Unless you’re referring to exercising their brain. They would be Olympic champs if that was a sport.)
So is it any wonder that novelists don’t grace the cover of their books. How many people would buy a book with a pale, bespectacled visage sitting on a bench under a tree? (I’m sure we’d have a goofy smile on our face, too!)
Novelists are meant for small, blurry mug-shots on the back cover of their paperbacks. Nothing more.
Pop stars, however, were made for album covers. Literally. Photoshopped faces and slim bodies with parts hanging out all over are the requisite requirement of album covers. Image is king.
But isn’t image king for novels, too?
Absolutely! And that’s why authors don’t grace the cover!
Unless, that is, if it’s a non-fictional title and the personality, not the story, is driving the sales. That’s when the celebrity chefs and TV personalities plop their images on the cover of their books and ride to the top-sellers list based on their other profession.
But for the novelist, who would dare think that their coffee-fueled or hungover eyes would ever elicit a sale?
So keep looking for those stock images, authors. We’re destined for the back cover or the obscure blog post.
And you know what? That’s just fine with me.