June 1, 2011 by David Gillaspie
YOU KNOW YOU ARE SOMEBODY
The next time someone complains about pictures of you, show them the Costco book table.
From one end to the other you see pictures like ones you pose for.
On the back of dust covers you find authors looking writerly, or writers looking authorly.
Like Charles and Fran, they are trying to look their best.
There’s David Baldacci holding up a wall in The Sixth Man wearing fresh pressed jeans and a shirt that looks right out of the package.
It’s a guy thing, because right next door John Sandford stands on the back of Buried Prey in the same professionally faded jeans.
Even closer-up, Dale Brown wears a Civil Air Patrol jumpsuit to sell A Time For Patriots. Maybe it’s time to get some faded jeans and stand around in the dark like the other guys.
Fern Michaels joins the fraternity with Southern Comfort and a big shot of her with two dogs on the back. One of the dogs perches on her shoulder. It looked stunned, but alive. The scene looked like a scratch and sniff ad for dogs with so many new fragrances.
If you write stories, then you get a big vanity picture on the back of your book to nail your brand.
If you’re a celebrity author, in other words a brand name, you still get the big vanity shot, but now it’s on the front. Tina Fey looks at you from the cover of Bossy Pants with a pair of man’s arms instead of her own. There is no relation to the man hands episode of Seinfeld, so just leave it alone.
The sexiest big-pic book cover? Chelsea Handler on Lies Chelsea Handler Told Me. Did someone tell her she looked good messed up? It wasn’t a lie.
Since it is Costco, you have to go big, even with the big-head book covers. There’s Shania Twain, Mark Twain, Stan Musial and Betty White all looking good. You always look good on the table.
There’s a line between looking good and looking too good on a book’s dust jacket. Mike Holmes crosses it on Make It Right. He’s on the front and the back. Out front he sports bib overalls. Okay? He’s wearing the same on the back, except now he’s got a strap undershirt on underneath.
How can you look at that and say, “make it right, Mike?”
Don’t be offended if, while you hold Mike’s book, someone starts whistling the YMCA song. It’s not about you; it’s the book.
Costco lets you dream the dream, whether it’s in the guise of thriller writers out on the town, a couple of dogs on their pink lady, or familiar faces goofing off. Don’t hurry to decide which one you want to be. Work through it like Mike when he changed clothes between his front and back cover.
Someone tell him he needs a moustache to join the band.