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?!

18 comments:

Therese Fowler said...

I'll be at my nearest B&N when the doors open that day, photos (stolen from inside new photo frames--who ARE those people?) and paste in hand...

Then on to the next store I'll go, and the next, and the next (there are a LOT of bookstores around here, this could work!) and then while I'M doing that, YOU make an anonymous call to the Regis and Kelly producers...

Brilliant idea, Holly, brilliant! And no one but us need ever know.

Zany Mom said...

LOL Therese, I had the same thought!

Katie said...

I can totally see why you're concerned.

You could offer a downloadable image on your website, as well as a link to an office supply store where people can buy sticky paper.

Instead of signing bookplates, you could have little sticky photos made of yourself and sign those.

Brenda Oig said...

That's crazy, Holly! I can't imagine having another author's face showing up in my book. :) It's true not only with writing, but anything in life; you have to roll with the punches and laugh at yourself. Otherwise you'll cry. :) Can't wait to get the book!

Holly Kennedy said...

Thanks, Therese! I'll buy a few boxes of glue sticks to ship across the country to all my friends.

Kate, I'm sure this was a fluke, and I trust my editor that it's been removed.

And if it were there I'd just leave it and make a big publicity play by doing my own version of a reality show where I hunt down the nameless face on my book -- picture me and a camera crew crawling through hedges to knock on some unsuspecting door! Man, that'd help book sales, wouldn't it?!

Holly Kennedy said...

Hey Brenda, we must've posted at the same time! Thanks for popping by and leaving a comment.

Steve G said...

Holly, thanks for stopping by. The Mercedes is built in Stuttgart. When my brother visited in the early 90's he was amazed at how many were used as Taxis. I need to come back an also go through your web site.

ORION said...

I'd love this to happen with my photo...only like use a picture of some gorgeous 20 something.
Then everybody could say,"Doesn't Patricia Wood look great for 50?"
"I wonder how she does it?"
And then like my next book could be all about my beauty secrets...
That would be so cool.
NOT.

Kimber An said...

Okay, I'm laughing here! I thought it would be bad enough to get stuck with a bimbo-morons-mating cover, but having a photo of a different author on my novel? Oy. I wish I could say I've heard it all now, but experience tells me that's bloomin' unlikely. Ah, the value of a good sense of humor.

Heidi the Hick said...

Regis: Buy it now!

That's awesome. You know, I kind of like the snapshot. I see a bookshelf behind you and what I believe is a penguin's beak beside you!

(Sorry to disappoint you today but I promise I'll post my earliest memory for you next Tuesday and I'll make it totally worth your time!)

anna said...

Holly -- laughing! Better to laugh than cry I guess. I hope the imposter author wasn't a toad.
Now I am going lickety split and buy your books! Can't wait!

hope this post doesn't show up twice or maybe worse. damn blogger

Anissa said...

Wow. Just wow. What are the odds of one person having so many issues with the author photo?

What a shock that must have been when the ARCs arrived. Yikes.

A sense of humor is a beautiful thing.

Cassandra Tiensivu said...

That is absolutely crazy!

Well there is something else I wasn't aware of about this process. Authors have to provide their own pictures! I suppose this is actually a good thing. I know how much I hate going to have my photo taken because often times, they make me look horrible. I know how I look best on camera. At least if you're responsible for getting your photo, you can have it redone as many times as you want until you like it.

Anonymous said...

Hot damn, this is both hilarious and really-not-funny stuff, but I luv your kewl attitude about it...

Can't wait to read your books now, too. I ordered TIN BOX today.

Cassandra Tiensivu said...

P.S. I see a penguin!

adrienne said...

Awesome Holly. I can TOTALLY understand those nerves! Though if they do put on another author's face in there, use it. Let us not forget about the author Christina Dodd who discovered that the heroine on the cover of her book had three arms. But she used it to her advantage, and became quite famous for it. Check out her writing about it here (the picture is a bit faint but if you look where she tells you, you'll see it): http://www.christinadodd.com/castles.php

spyscribbler said...

Oh man! You're kidding! Wow. Hmmm ... maybe, if I get NY-published, they'll accidentally put in Jennifer Garner's photo. Now that would definitely get one on Regis and Kelly!

Jenn on the Island said...

Oh, gawd!

As if you need one more thing to worry about!