Is the author’s picture on her book jacket worth more than 1000 words? An interesting piece in Sunday’s NYTimes (6/7), suggests that women writers may be taken more seriously if they look “Stern, severe,strict”–in other words as the title suggests “How to Pose like A Man.” The author posits that male writers receive more reviews from reputable sources than females (a verifiable fact) and that their demeanor might account for some of the disparity.
FIDDLESTICKS! I suspect that part of the problem has to do with genre and sub-genres. Female writers are far more likely to write romances, a category frequently deplored by SERIOUS reviewers even though it attracts the largest number of readers. Even among mystery writers, “Cozies” are essentially a female preserve and less likely to command the attention of publications such as the NYTImes. (Tell that to Agatha Christie with her 500 million books sold!!} Take a gander at book covers, an essential sales tool for attracting new readers. SERIOUS covers, which may indeed be “stern, severe, and strict” are commonly seen on thrillers, police procedurals, adventure novels and literary fiction. Papa Hemingway would never countenance a “sissy cover” on his tomes, and as for James Joyce or Norman Mailer–enough said.
Personally I don’t want to “pose like a man.” I want the best, most airbrushed image of me that I can possibly find. After all, I write FICTION and illusion is everything. Take my writing seriously if you will but leave my photo intact!!