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Does Our Author Appearance Matter?

Ever noticed how certain children’s authors use the same photo on the back of their jacket for years? I always think, “Hey, who are you fooling? That hat is straight out of the 80s. Update it! Proudly display your aged face!” But then I think—“Huh. That could be me. Would I want to do that?” Now, I must admit that I’ve expressed a strong refusal to put any photo on the back of any of my books. The reason? I don’t take good pictures and I’m vain. If I can't look like American's Next Top Super Model then I don't want to look like anything. There you have it. But perhaps I should before I get too old!

Meghan is excited to give away a free copy of her book to a random commenter. Comment within one week;
winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you've won before.

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Guest column by Meghan McCarthy, author of
11 books—most recently Pop! The Invention of
Bubble Gum, which got a starred review from
Library Journal. See more about her fun books
for kids on her website.

Last weekend I heard the Violent Femmes play in good old Brooklyn. Who are the Violent Femmes, you ask? Well, I’d hope you would all know but for those who don’t—Does "Blister in the Sun" ring a bell? I first knew about them when I was a young grunge/alternative fan—back when alternative meant something. Now it’s “indie,” which is also losing its meaning. Boo-hoo. Yes, I digress.

Here are the Femmes yesteryear ... and today.

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The show was great. Lots of energy. An enthusiastic, screaming crowd. Great fun. But as I was leaving, a friend of mine said what I was thinking. She said, “They’re old, huh? Kind of depressing.” Yes! It was! “No one was under 25. We’re getting old.” This is particularly relevant since it’s my birthday in several weeks. I am already depressed. I am already becoming a Violent Femme. As their song says—Gone daddy gone, the love is gone.

Yes, dear reader, I do have a point. I like to trick you into thinking that I’m going to ramble on about nothing, which admittedly, I sometimes do.

MY QUESTION: DOES OUR APPEARANCE MATTER?

Do children’s book authors age like fine wine or do they prune up and give their past beloved fans the bad taste of their own mortality?

Example: Ever noticed how certain children’s authors use the same photo on the back of their jacket for years? I always think, “Hey, who are you fooling? That hat is straight out of the 80s. Update it! Proudly display your aged face!” But then I think—“Huh. That could be me. Would I want to do that?” Now, I must admit that I’ve expressed a strong refusal to put any photo on the back of any of my books. The reason? I don’t take good pictures and I’m vain. If I can't look like American's Next Top Super Model then I don't want to look like anything. There you have it. But perhaps I should before I get too old!

And now, dear readers, I will delve deeper. Does an author’s appearance matter to the publisher? Will they give more marketing and encourage the author to appear more in public if they’re attractive? Does the poor slob with warts all over his or her face get stuffed into a closet? Will that young mom gravitate to the hot guy who just penned his first book? Does the reader care? Perhaps he or she does. Perhaps after seeing this wart-infested author who frighteningly resembles the witch portrayed in their very picture book, the young child will run screaming in horror. After all, Disney has already set the stage for children everywhere to believe that attractive people are good and the unattractive are bad.

I'm not sure what the answer is. All I'm saying is: Think about it.

Meghan is excited to give away a free copy of her book to a random commenter. Comment within one week;
winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you've won before.

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The 2011 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market
offers more than 650 listings for publishers,
magazines, agents, art reps and more.

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