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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Is Beauty Worth The Money?

If you're young and attractive, go ahead and skip this post. Save it on your computer and look at it in twenty years. Only then will you understand what this is all about.

I've worked in an industry where beauty is synonymous with selling. There's a blog I follow that makes my point. The blogger mentioned running into Miss Snark and they gaze admiringly at her (potential) client. It's an old post, but one that still sticks in my craw.

For the full post go here. But the piece of conversation I want to point out is this:

"Wow," I said. "She's hot."

"Yeah, Chuck," Miss Snark said. "That's what we like to call platform."

I almost choked in grief. Not because I find it unfair, but because the majority of humanity lives on the veneer of vanity. We idolize beautiful people. We put them on tv and the internet--and sign them to book contracts.

This young woman, whoever she was, may very well be all that and a milk shake, but what about the thousands of other writers, the ones without a physical "platform"?

I'm not crying in my beer over this. This has been the way of things since the first monkey groomed the better looking monkey just so they could make little monkeys.

It just makes me irritable that we give more value to beauty than to real talent. Sure, we have our Susan Boyle's and Paul Potts's, but it's because the unlovely give such outstanding performances that the world is forced to recognize them for their superior accomplishments.

Please feel free to disagree with me if you want, but tell me: Have you ever bought a book because the author was beautiful? Even if some people do, exactly how many books does that sell?

Are beautiful authors worth more than less attractive authors? Are they more gifted, articulate or credible?

It is human nature I suppose to adulate the beautiful--to make celebrities out of people who happen to fit nicely into tight fitting jeans.

But beauty doesn't last forever. Today's god or goddess will be just like the rest of us before they even realize what's happened.

I often think that's God's little comeuppance for our arrogant youth. As for the publishers who pay that kind of money...that looks like yet another chink in publishing's armor.

There are so many other places that monetary premium could be used to revive sales rather than dump it all on one pony to win.

For some reason, Blogger is not posting my articles when I have them scheduled. I have one more scheduled for Independence Day (USA) and then I will be on the road for a while.

When I get back, I hope to have a special week of posts, so please come back and check on me.


Anonymous said...

I've never bought a book based on the author's looks (though I have on age, ie Paolini), but I'll bet pretty authors get more interviews and thus more publicity.

Maria Zannini said...

Having interviewed quite a few people, I can honestly say that I'm more concerned that the interviewee comes across as intelligent, articulate, or funny.

Unless s/he's naked I don't see how a pretty face will sway a reader to read the interview and subsequently buy the book.

Pretty people are a natural for tv and movies, but books...

Marianne Arkins said...

I've never bought a book based on good looks... nope.

But I agree that looks will get you farther than talent many times, and looks AND talent trumps mere talent every day.

It's really kind of sad.

Maria Zannini said...

I guess the only other alternative is to be controversial.

J.K. Coi said...

Happy 4th of July! :)

I think that beauty will always play some part of any person's career who happens to be in any kind of limelight.

HOWEVER, I actually believe that authors are probably the least likely to be judged on looks. Many times you don't even see the author's picture in the back of the book anymore, and if you do it's probably the last thing you look at--after you've already read the book and decided whether you'll buy the author again. With the internet these days, I think that is even more true. Less and less authors are out there doing hard core book tours and meeting their fans face to face. You get to "chat" online and develop your "persona" in that way, which can be a great help (and sometimes a hindrance).

Maria Zannini said...

Ref: ...develop your "persona" in that way, which can be a great help (and sometimes a hindrance).

True. There are a lot of online friends (like you!) who I would love to meet in person, but I'm not sure that's useful when it comes to fans or potential fans.

But this train of thought did give me something to think about for a future post. Thanks, JK!

PS Happy belated Canada Day.

Do you think our countries planned for holidays around the same time or was it just coincidence? LOL.

catie james said...

Nope - not once, nor will I ever, buy a book based on the author's looks. While I have a great deal of respect for Ms. Snark and quite enjoy(ed) her blog (now archives), that has to be one of the most asinine comments I've ever come across.

Maria Zannini said...

Hi Catie!

It's the way of things I suppose. Ms Snark is a salesperson first and it makes sense that if an attractive author makes it easier to make a sale she's going to use it their advantage.

Not the loftier road, just the practical one.