Last week I received more than a hundred responses on a blog I wrote about publishers going a bit too far on editorial changes. And it started me thinking about other advice I've received over the years that were a bit... questionable.
My first book was published in 1984. But when I made the leap from non-fiction to suspense/thrillers in 2002, I found it was a whole new game. In addition to the publisher's marketing rep (who was fantastic and taught me quite a bit about the book industry) I also hired a publicist to help me navigate the new world of book promotion.
The publisher of Kickback requested a picture of me, but my new publicist was adamantly opposed. She thought that once readers knew what I looked like, they would not want to purchase my books. This came as quite an eye-opener. She strongly suggested that I never provide a picture for the book (the cover or internally) and never allow my picture to be printed or posted - on the Internet or elsewhere.
Friends thought I looked 20 years older. Fans were ambivalent (though I got many comments about how different I looked in person), the publisher was thrilled. My publicist was furious and thought it was the end of my career because I'd shown my face.
As a dutiful author, I started my book tour and found that it could be quite challenging to continue hiding my face. After all, I needed it to see where I was going.
What do you think? Does it help or hinder an author to show or hide their face? How do you think the author's appearance affects book sales?