Do Looks Matter?

Every month in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a question related to the writing life. Tell us your thoughts.
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Do Looks Matter?

Postby Brian » Wed Aug 16, 2006 5:41 am

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Do Looks Matter?

Postby Brian » Wed Aug 16, 2006 5:41 am

Every issue in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a thought-provoking question related to the writing life. In the October issue of WD, Ron Hogan explores whether an author's looks matter in the publishing world. Do you think good looks can influence an author's ability to get published and affect her book sales?

To be part of our monthly Conversation, e-mail your brief response (up to 50 words) to with "Do Looks Matter" as the subject line or post it here.

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RE: Do Looks Matter?

Postby vade mecum » Wed Aug 16, 2006 7:40 am

Our looks affect our self-image and outlook on life. People judge us, favorably or unfavorably, by outward appearances. An "attractive" person will be able to sell themselves and their books more easily than one who is less appealing, unless extraordinary talent or lack of physical visibility compensates.


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RE: Do Looks Matter?

Postby PaigeVonLiber » Wed Aug 16, 2006 8:28 am

We’re trained on a subconscious level from birth that pretty is good. (Ah see the pretty puppy, nice little puppy. No little Bobby that ugly dog will bite.)
It only stands to reason that a good looking writer is better for a publisher’s business and would be more likely published.

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RE: Do Looks Matter?

Postby j_joshi » Wed Aug 16, 2006 8:43 am

I hope looks don't matter. On the other hand, human nature is such...

Still, Salman Rushdie is massively successful and he's one of the ugliest men I've ever seen.

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RE: Do Looks Matter?

Postby riverstone » Wed Aug 16, 2006 8:49 am

Of course looks matter.  That's why I'm planning to hire a "ghost model" if I ever get a picture on the back jacket!

Your appearance is the only thing that matters in making a first impression.  Luckily, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and though there is classic beauty, an interesting look or a unique look, or a thoughtful look might be pleasing to many.

Men have far greater latitude in acceptable appearance than women.  If you don't believe me, look at the radio celebrity billboards in your town.  Even on the radio, men can look like King Kong, but a woman has to be young, perky, and sexy.  Go figure.  I guess those women are just equipped with the best radio voice!

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RE: Do Looks Matter?

Postby Administrator1 » Wed Aug 16, 2006 9:12 am

You know that picture of Kristin on her editor's note? Two words: Paid spokesmodel.

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RE: Do Looks Matter?

Postby KarenRankowitz » Wed Aug 16, 2006 9:14 am

I'm not sure how or how much it matters.  Here's my take...

Readers want to identify with, fantasize about or love to hate...

How often have you set aside a book and said, "Who wrote that?" Whether it was good or bad.  For instance, a man who writes a steamy romance - well ladies - wouldn't you just love to know what he looks like? Heaven forbid if that attractive writer happens to look like your father - this could be psychologically damaging.

Or a woman who writes a crime novel that includes a sexy love scene on highway 15 in a convertable with the top down - well guys - don't you want to know what this woman (who can write a scene like that) looks like? (Oh no, not gramma - yikes!)

Me, I prefer the mystery.

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RE: Do Looks Matter?

Postby Pat Pechon » Wed Aug 16, 2006 9:47 am

Theres some pretty hot Grandma's out there. Now, Stephen King not super cute, but he can sure burn up a page.

I would say women writers were locked in to certain genre's but I guess Mary Shelley would prove me wrong.

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RE: Do Looks Matter?

Postby abqwriter » Wed Aug 16, 2006 9:59 am

Do I think looks matter?  Louis L'Amour was not exactly a hottie, but he sure could write a western that sold like hot cakes.  I sold over fifty articles to an editor before meeting him; we worked exclusively by email and phone.  Good thing, since I never could find the hottie line before I was born.  I got stuck in the "but you have a great personality" line.


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