The publishing business is weird. That’s a given for those of us who toil within its ranks. It’s also unpredictable, quixotic, and often baffling. One of the things that never ceases to amaze me is the phenomenon of serious author turned “rock star.” Joshua Ferris, according to Jason Pinter, is the latest Jay McInerney, J.D. Salinger, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Lord Byron, etc., and no disrespect to Mr. Ferris, whose first book I thoroughly enjoyed and strongly recommended, but what is it about him that people find so, well, sexy? And, should that be a reason to rush out and buy his sophomore novel?
Over the years, I’ve come across many very attractive authors, many not so attractive but highly charismatic authors, and some who, attractive or not, were so shy or self-conscious or socially inept that it made perfect sense to me that they’d chosen to become writers – traditionally a solitary and vaguely misanthropic pursuit. Except, of course, nowadays even the most retiring of authors has to glam it up for the cameras, both physically and personality-wise in order to get attention for his or her work. We at DGLM have always been aware that this is a reality of the media-driven age we live in but still cringe at the thought of having to advise authors to “maximize their assets” by working with a p.r. coach on finding ways to become more telegenic, for instance. Personally, I prefer my writers to be reclusive, eccentric and odd-looking and more interested in crafting beautiful sentences than looking beautiful on Oprah, but in the tabloid era that type seems to be a dying breed.
Does an author’s looks or celebrity status influence your decision to buy his/her books?