This last week I unveiled a new cover for Petals and Thorns, which was my very first erotic romance, first published back in 2010.
Her Facebook page still gets likes, however, which I find both boggling and instructive.
I liked the cover I self-published it with just fine. It got nominated for some best cover contests, which means it's a perfectly fine cover, but I never felt like it WORKED all that well. I'm not sure why.
Thus the reboot. Because a cover is important. Vitally so.
Yes, yes - we can all point to the adage to never judge a book by its cover, but the fact that it is cliché points to our very human tendency to do exactly that. We are visual creatures and are hardwired to make decisions based on what we see. We're also culturally trained to read in certain cues from images. Particularly as readers, we assimilate all sorts of cues about what a story will deliver from a cover.
Which leads me to the topic at hand, whether authors need a public persona.
Oh. My. God. YES.
And it amazes me just how many authors don't seem to get this.
What's key to remember is that, for an author, our brand is not our product. We write many books over the course of our careers (we hope!). Very likely we'll write in multiple genres. The one consistency is ourselves. The brand is us, who we are.
Thus our public persona is essentially our personal book cover.
It needs to be attractive, enticing, give hints about what kinds of stories it will deliver. And it needs to be not obnoxious.
In kind of a funny coincidence, I was chatting over email with a friend yesterday about a couple of authors we both know who have been abrasive on author loops. Spamming with promo on email loops with specific rules forbidding that. Complaining on forums about other professionals in the community. All with the combined effect of making us not like them very much - which means we're disinclined to help them when they ask for it.
What's that you say? That's not a public persona?
Think again. I'd argue that any time we step online, just as any time we leave our homes, our faces are exposed to the public eye. The internet has made the world small in both wonderful and scary ways. How we appear to be echoes out in endless ripples.
It pays to make sure that face is the one you want people to see.