Thursday, August 09, 2007

Sex, Personality and Book Sales

As with most things, it’s all Kevin Wignall’s fault. Or perhaps I should call him Kuddly Kev, as he’s been labeled elsewhere… (Not by me! And not by Alex Barclay either, from what I hear.)

I may live to regret this, because anyone astute, with too much time on their hands and a pressing desire to find my assessments of some male crime fiction writers could eventually find a bit of running commentary from me on the subject of World’s Sexiest Writer 2007. (No, not on that thread.) But since I can’t talk about the only other thing on my mind this morning, sexy writers it is.

Vincent has not only started the topic of World’s Sexiest Writer over on Crimespace, where Daniel will be setting up a poll soon, Vincent is also assessing the merits of his photos on a dating site.

And proving that I occasionally not only have tact but employ it, I’m saying nothing on that one.

I’m proving myself a Gemini on this one, because I am completely of two minds when it comes to discussing sexy writers. I think Vincent’s post is hilarious and can’t wait to see how the poll shapes up. But I think it’s terribly shallow that people would be influenced to by a book based on what an author looks like, unless they’re selling a book on beauty tips or bodybuilding.

I think one of the very best lines at Bouchercon last year was when Oline Cogdil said she’d praised raging assholes and panned very nice people. And such is your lot when you’re a reviewer. As an individual, I’m far more swayed by personality. That will entice me to try a book. If I think a person is an idiot I’m not likely to want to read what they write, because I expect the writing to reflect that. And if I think a person is sharp, intelligent, witty, then I want to check out their work. That connection makes sense to me.

But even authors who are jerks can write great books. And yes, authors who are very nice people sometimes write stinkers.

Why is it I feel like I’m digging myself into a hole here? And now, everyone will wonder who I think is an idiot, or a jerk….

Truth is, it doesn’t matter. There are exceptionally few authors I have issues with on any level, in the grand scheme of things. Sometimes, it seems like a lot when I’m sorting spam for Spinetingler, or dealing with what happened over our last issue that prompted us to remove a story after the author started swearing at me in emails. We paid him and took the story down. At the time I was extremely pissed off, but the percentage of problem people is pretty low, though, all things considered.

While it’s definitely true that if someone is rude to my face they will not entice me to pick up their book at that moment (and in some cases when people have been ignorant I’ve moved their review copies to the bottom of the pile so that I can get the bad taste out of my mouth and be objective when I do get there) whether or not I like someone or agree with them has precious little to do with my endorsements either. Of course, I always like it when I discover an author I admire is a really good person – bonus. And I’m one of those people who doesn’t need to agree with someone about everything to like them.

But that’s me. I realize it isn’t the same for everyone else. I once had this naïve notion, that you’d just write stories and work from home and be an author and not have to worry about your appearance and all of that stuff. Of course, things have changed since I first thought about being an author when I was a kid.

So, part of me hates the idea of ranking authors based on their appearance. But the other side of me is curious to see who’ll make the list… and whether or not it will generate any interest in their books.

And I’ll confess this much. Brown eyes. My favourite feature on a person. Evil Kev and I both have hazel eyes – mine of the blue/green variety, his of the brown/green variety.

Anyone else going to confess who they’ll put on the sexiest writer list, or why? (You know, this is a stellar topic today. I won’t get any comments at all.)

21 comments:

Pepper Smith said...

LOL! Guess I'll have to pay a visit to that thread over on Crimespace. I have no one to contribute to it, though. I generally tend not to look very long, or sometimes not at all, at the author photos on book covers.

Vincent said...

I'm intrigued to see whether it goes along the lines of men making their choices based on the author photo and women making their decision based on the sexiness of the writing.

Of course, perhaps I'm being unfair and the women will turn out just as shallow as the men.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Pepper, I think we should rank the crimespace members. The photos there could get very interesting!

And Vincent, here's the honest truth: some women are every bit as shallow as some men. I think I'll have to go with being shallow here, because I'm not sure what sexy writing looks like. And since I don't like reading sex scenes I can't even grade those.

Pepper Smith said...

Yeah, I have no idea what sexy writing looks like.

I'm almost afraid to see what would happen to the member photos on Crimespace if we ranked them. Many of them that are up there now are neat because they show a lot of personality. Of course, if the guys started putting up photos of themselves that they thought were sexy, we could sit there and giggle at them. Men and women don't necessarily see the same things as sexy.

Graham Powell said...

As far as "raging assholes" go, I read a report from Cannes by Roger Ebert several years ago. He was in the buffet line when someone cut in front of him, and was rude about it to boot.

When he found out it was a director whose work he admired, he was secretly pleased. There are only so many nice people in the world, so if assholes can make good movies (or books), so much the better.

Brian said...

Not to sure how I missed that thread over there.

Screw anonymity. I just posted my list over there.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Pepper, good point about men and women. Still could be interesting.

Graham, I like that story. And it's true. While a lot of people in the crime fiction community truly are wonderful, the touted stat that 99.9% of the people are fantastic is just a way of setting yourself up for a rude shock. I had one of the most ignorant experiences of my life at Bouchercon last year, and that's saying something, because I've known a lot of assholes over the years. Plus people are people, warts and all. I don't want to be around perfect people all the time. They make me insecure.

Brian, I was just reading your list. I'm actually stunned nobody's named Barry Eisler yet. In the 'easy on the eyes' category, he definitely ranks. Simon Kernick too. In both cases, I very much like the person, and that just adds to the appeal. If someone is good looking but a jerk, they become far less attractive for me. Sean Chercover is also a handsome guy, and again, a great person.

As for hot women... Considerably tougher for me to assess. I think Laura Lippman is very pretty. I'd probably do better if you asked me to name who I feel most insecure around instead of who's sexiest. Maybe Laura, Megan Abbott... I don't know. If I start this list I could be here all day!

Russel said...

Sandra

That's not Sean Chercover you're thinking of... its Mel Gibson...

(I'm never ever going to let that one go)

pattinase (abbott) said...

Call Me Shallow. In response to Vince, I've never read a word Barry Eisler has written and I vote for him.

Teri said...

Nice Blog :)

Christa M. Miller said...

Shallow here too. I think Sebastian Junger is damn hot.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Russel, you're coming to clean up my computer screen, aren't you? LOL! (And I was on the phone with Mr. C when you posted that!)

Patti, finally! A vote for Eisler.

Teri, thanks, and thanks for dropping by.

Christa, I'll have to go in search of a photo now...

Sean Chercover said...

Russel, ya bastard.

Why, I oughtta...

Anonymous said...

Interesting..
I'm a chicken. Out of fear i could never tell!
chelbel

Sandra Ruttan said...

Sean and Russel, you two get a room in Baltimore, okay?

Chelbel, I might be able to guess at some of them!

Vincent said...

The main page on crimespace has a proper poll now up and running, though it's not as much fun when you don't get to see the explanations for people's choices. You include the poll on your own page or blog too, so I've added it to mine.

I remain in a quandary over who to vote for. I was trying to go for a deeper reasoning than simple looks, but then I came here and everyone seems to be going for unashamedly shallow, so I'll probably do the same.

Anonymous said...

I think Alex Barcley will do well, are we taking bets?
chel

norby said...

I've got a guess about one of chelbel's anyway.

I can't exactly explain what it is I find sexy about certain writers, but it isn't necessarily their appearance, it often has to do with the way they write. Guess I truly am a word junkie.

Trace said...

Ooooh Robert Crais. Wowza. *Low whiste*

Sandra Ruttan said...

I think Alex Barclay will do well...

And Trace, Robert Crais is on the poll. I've looked at the results so far, but haven't voted, but I see that Daniel Hatadi is also on the poll!

Daniel Hatadi said...

Yeah, who the hell put me there? I've considered removing myself because I'm running the poll, but hey, it's all in good fun.