Sunday, May 4, 2014

How sexy do we have to be to sell our books?

Every morning I lie in bed listening to the birds, my eyes on the palm tree, waiting for the morning when the dangling frond will have succumbed to gravity and released its fragile grip on the tree. The frond proves to be tenacious and day after day, it clings to life while the younger fronds, tall and erect, reach eagerly for the sky. Below them fronds begin to bend, then droop and finally sag with age.
Every morning my granddaughter bounds into my room. “Hi grandma. Let’s play.” She’s like the new fronds at the top, eagerly reaching for the joys of the new day. And me? I’m somewhere in between—a middle aged frond, not yet drooping, but certainly not possessing the energy I once had.
We live in a society that worships youth. Perfect wrinkle free bodies populate ads and television and movies. A Hollywood agent told me that no self-respecting star would agree to play a mother—not before she was in her fifties at least. The same rule doesn’t seem to apply to men, but that’s a whole other topic.
Those of us who are older bemoan the emphasis on youth, the obsession with youth, the lack of respect and regard for age and wisdom, but watching the palm, I wonder if we have it wrong. Are the young, with their energy and enthusiasm more important? Certainly they are essential to the future of our society. It is they who will take care of us as we age and, like the dangling palm frond, eventually succumb to our fate.
With the great desire to have some decent sales of my books before I die, I ask: “From the authors’ perspective, how does our age affect our promotion and sales?”
Brian Feinblum says it best. In his blog, “Are authors sexy enough for the books they write?” He says, “‘They say not to “judge a book by its cover,’ but do consumers judge a book by the age (and looks) of its author?”
Good questions. Being a young attractive author should be an advantage for marketing books. We market through social media which lets readers into our lives, lets them see and hear us, and that may influence buying decisions. So, if we are older authors, do we hide away, or pretend to be younger, or do we flaunt our age?
Or do we ignore the question and get on with the job? Perhaps Mr. Feinblum has it right when he says, “what really counts is the seductive beauty of words.”

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