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Does an Author’s Looks Affect Sales?

It seems like recently my Facebook feed has been flooded with personality quizzes. The trouble is…they are very addicting. What character are you from this book or that movie? What is your undiscovered talent? What job should you have? I have tried to limit myself to only one every few days, but I can’t help spending time answering silly questions. What is even crazier is that these questions pop out a description that is pretty close to my personality. 

I started wondering how much of my personality affected what genre I decided to write. Looking at writer photos I determined it probably had more to do with the decision than I had originally thought. YA paranormal writers tend to be women with long, straight hair. Adult mystery, sometimes suspense, writers who are women tend to be older with short cuts. Men in this genre are typically clean cut and pose with their arms crossed. Then, jump over to fantasy and things really get funny.  Both male and female authors have long, bushy hair. 

Coincidence? I met a fantasy writer when he was first starting out. He had a typical clean-cut hair style with a very short beard. I saw him at a book festival a few years later. His hair hung loose down to his shoulders. At that same festival, we noticed a huge line starting to form around someone we didn’t recognize. He had the long hair along with a long beard and his book looked like it could double as a doorstop. I proclaimed he had to be a fantasy author…which he was. 

When I began writing, I wanted to write suspense. I read mainly suspense and mystery and had basically skipped the YA genre completely. When I wrote The Curse of Atlantis, it kind of jumped out of nowhere proclaiming to the world that I was a fantasy writer. Now I love both that and the paranormal genre and many say it fits nicely as YA as well. I tended to be pretty geeky (I’m putting that past tense for self-preservation but those who know me would probably question it). I used to have straight hair but have been trying desperately to make it shorter and curlier. I wonder if I “fit in” to the stereotypical writer in either of these genres. I think my problem is that I have always proclaimed myself to be a nerd and yet tried to avoid “looking” like one.

But, does the look of an author help determine success. In other words, do readers judge the book based on whether the author looks the part? I know it’s weird to consider. Most don’t know who authors are unless they do a ton of interviews. But they do go to a lot of places where their readers hang out. Maybe, on some level, they are trying to look the part to buy more credibility when selling books. So maybe I should grow my hair out and let it hang all fuzzy. That would certainly save time in the morning.