I'm linking to a video today about an author, Kathryn Finney, who has been dubbed "The Budget Fashionista" because she wrote a book titled, "The Budget Fashionista." I don't usually use words like "fashionista" because they make me nauseous, but I thought her story was interesting and I think it's an important post for all authors to read.
Allegedly, Ms. Finney's publisher had "issues" with her photo. In her own words, Ms. Finney stated, "The idea was that if you have a black woman on the cover of the book, particularly a book about fashion and lifestyle that people wouldn't want to buy it." She goes on to state that the book sold something like 30,000 copies and she'd already posted her photo on her blog and her readers were familiar with it. She's also no stranger to blogging and fashion.
You can view the video here.
Her story resonated with me because I've been in publishing for a long time and one of the topics that almost everyone in publishing agrees on is that author photos are not significant to the content of a book. I've read this on agent web sites/blogs, I've read this on editor web sites/blogs. I've read it in forums and I've heard publishing professionals talk about it in person. And they all agree that authors should get professional photos, but that it doesn't matter what you look like, what race you are, what sex you are, or how old you are. The only thing that matters is the content of the book. I also know that the majority of people in publishing tend to be more casual and open-minded, and less concerned about looks than most other industries.
So I don't know what kind of publishing professional would have given this advice to Ms. Finney, but, unfortunately for her, she must have found one of the few idiots in publishing spewing bad advice. It happens. I haven't heard a story like this before, but I've heard other bad advice stories. And Ms. Finney's story is a great example of how we all need to take some advice...even from our publishers...with that proverbial grain of salt.
At first I thought this might be a non-fiction thing. That maybe publishers think about author photos differently when it comes to publishing non-fiction as opposed to fiction and author photos matter more. But that didn't make sense because I've honestly never heard this before from a non-fiction author. But more than that, Ms. Finney looks and sounds like a bright, attractive young woman who knows what she's talking about and who has worked hard to get where she is. When you reach that point, and you've proven yourself like she has, photos matter even less. It's more about what you have to say that matters the most.
I'm glad Ms Finney shared this story with everyone. And I hope that other authors who get bad advice like she got listen closely to what she's saying. Just because you're getting bad advice doesn't mean you have to listen to it. Go with your instincts and what your heart tells you to do.