Friday, January 26, 2007

Imagine putting a spin on this: Nope, that's not my author photo, but honest, I wrote it...

As a new author building a reputation, I pride myself in being a team player. I’m easy to get along with, I have a strong marketing background, and I welcome any editorial suggestions that will help increase the saleability of my work. So when I hear stories about high maintenance authors throwing diva-like tantrums, it makes me shake my head. Get over yourself, I want to say. Because no matter what you do, things can and will go wrong in this business when you least expect it...

Example: When my debut novel was in production in 2005 my publisher asked for a high resolution jpg of my author photo to include in the book. Weeks later, they asked for an actual photo for backup, just in case. A month after that, they phoned and said they’d lost both, could I courier them yet another copy of the photo?

Fast forward to October 2005 when the hard cover of my debut novel, The Tin Box, finally came out and ... there was no author photo in the book!

My publisher apologized and assured me that they would include it in the paperback. Fast forward one year later to October 2006 when the paperback version of The Tin Box came out, and again (you guessed it) there was no author photo in the book.

Today, I’m with a different publisher (although moving to a new house had nothing to do with this photo mix-up) and I couldn’t be happier with how NAL (a division of Penguin Putnam) has handled the publication of my 2nd novel, The Penny Tree.

I love the cover and my editor is a sweetheart. When author photos came up, she said it was my choice whether or not to include one, that they’d come to believe author photos don’t have any impact on whether or not a book sells well. Given this, I decided not to include one with The Penny Tree. My author photo is three years old anyhow and I hate having my picture taken, so I told her I'd include an updated photo with my 3rd novel, The Stone Compass.

Fast forward to August 2006 when I received advance reader copies of The Penny Tree. And what do you think I found on the last page of the book? My bio, of course. Oh, and an author photo. Only it wasn’t ME! It was some other author, although I didn’t recognize her face.

My editor was mortified, and for a few minutes I was speechless (a rarity all by itself). Then I laughed, and asked her to rip this stranger's picture out of as many copies of the ARCs she could get her hands on, and I'd do the same at my end. She couldn’t believe how good I was about it. "Oh, well,” I said. “They’re only ARCs being used for publicity. It’s not like it’s the final book getting shipped out to stores across the country, right?"

Fast Forward to now: The Penny Tree is due out in 67 days, and Holly's getting nervous. Last week I emailed my editor and told her I’d dreamt it was out in book stores everywhere with someone else’s face on the back. But she assured me it had been taken care of; that there was no author photo in the book.

And yet there's still a tiny piece of me that’s bracing for the worst. What if some stranger’s face is in my book taking credit for writing it simply by being there. (If you do see anyone else's mug on the back of the book, phone me, okay?!)

If it happens, I guess I could spin it into book sales, right? What do you think? Maybe I'd get invited onto Regis and Kelly, and I could sit on one of those extra tall stools they have holding a handful of Kleenex, looking dejected, bottom lip trembling while Regis says, "Can you imagine?" and Kelly shakes her head because she can't. "Holly Kennedy," he'll say, staring straight into the camera, "who grew up dirt poor, went from a long distance operator to international author and now this? Go buy her book, people! Do it! Do it now!"

Long, thoughtful pause...
Where's my head? I've only got 67 days until publication.
I wonder if I still have time to put that woman’s picture back in?!