Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Something about Appearances

Not long ago, a friend and I were discussing what it takes to “make it” in the publishing industry. This friend argued that getting accepted isn’t always just about the quality of writing, but sometimes about “a pretty face.”

I responded by asking him why, if that were the case, do I know so many beautiful people who are seriously good writers without agents or publishers?

And we went back and forth a bit over that. Him insisting that appearances can make a difference, and me insisting that it’s all about the writing. The conversation stayed with me for several days, as I contemplated his words, until I found the middle ground that my friend and I had somehow missed.

I still don’t think authors are accepted because of how they look. But I do think that those who take care to look professional, and for that matter, act professionally, probably have a better shot at landing that agent or publisher (or both). It’s kind of like when you interview for a job. If two people who are equally qualified show up, the guy wearing jeans and a T-shirt will find himself at a disadvantage to the one wearing a suit and tie. The same kind of thinking goes for social networking and blog posts. And especially for jacket cover photos.

So maybe my friend and I were both a little right. It is about the writing. It’s absolutely crucial to have good writing with all the necessary story elements. But being an author is also about appearances. Especially when it comes to self promotional efforts. (And just to clarify, by appearances I mean showing up clean, groomed, with combed hair and well-fitting appropriate attire.)

What have you done to make yourself appear more professional?

6 comments:

Sarah P. said...

I just wanted to throw out that it's also so subjective. Sometimes, I imagine that my manuscript was rejected by Agent X because my main character has the same name as the roommate they had, and hated, in college. You never know.

But, as for your actual question, to make my online presence professional, I had a photographer do my author photos. I try not to post personal information on my blog, unless it directly pertains to writing. Same for my social media accounts. I always address agents and editors as Mr. or Ms. in my communication with them. Finally, I keep in my mind that writing is a very personal and emotional process. Querying and publishing is a business transaction.

Thanks for the interesting blog post.

David J. West said...

To appear more professional, I rarely appear.

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Publishing is absolutely about being professional, and that includes how you present yourself online and offline, in pictures, and in your words. I've made some mistakes, but I've learned from them. I've definitely learned that it's important to remain professional, but also personable.

L.T. Elliot said...

I'm with you. I think talent and professional appearance make big differences. I like to hope that professional appearance means more than just physical appearance but also the way one carries oneself, speaks, and acts. Regardless, I believe the combination of talent and professionalism make a person stand out.

Carolyn V said...

This makes me think that I need to clean up my blog a little. Hum...

Angie said...

David, you're funny. I agree, Nichole. I haven't worn makeup for twenty years, but I realized when my book came out that if I was going to go teach, speak, sign and what-not, I'd better do it. So, I still don't wear makeup every day, but when I want to appear professional, I do. And I actually like it!