Thursday, July 02, 2015

How Do We Feel About Another Author's Photo Showing Up On Our Work?

 An Author Photo Mix-up

Several years ago (just a little over four, to be exact), I read Why Is Someone Else In My Book's Author Photo? by Caroline Leavitt at Salon. In it, Leavitt writes about finding out that the Chinese edition of her book, Girls in Trouble, carried another author's photograph. She found it "discomfiting" and said of herself, "I mourn."

Now, I have learned only a handful of things in my lifetime, but one of them is that I just can't predict how I will respond to any experience. Would I feel that "an author’s photo is the reader-writer connection...It’s a public acknowledgment that a real person — me! — spent four years agonizing and obsessing over the story"? Would I mourn?

My Own Author Photo Issue

Rosemary and Olive Oil, my short story that was published at Alimentum, does, indeed, include someone else's photograph with the author info. Oddly enough, she looks a little bit like Caroline Leavitt.

How upset am I about this?  I probably noticed it three or four months or so ago. I just got around last night to writing an e-mail to the Alimentum editor to see if the picture can be replaced with one of mine. I'm not going to send it for a few days so my OC readers can enjoy checking out the story and the mystery photo. So, no, it doesn't seem to be bothering me that much, and I'm happy to get a blog post out of the situation.

Why Am I Not In Despair Over This Misplaced Author Photo?

Rosemary and Olive Oil was my first published short story for adults, so it was a very big deal for me. To date, it is still my only published short story for adults, so it is still a very big deal for me.  I had to rework it a number of times. I've submitted many short stories over and over again, but Rosemary and Olive Oil went to the third publication I submitted it to. I put this down not to the splendor of the story but to having stumbled upon the perfect place for it. Alimentum is a journal of the literature of food, and Rosemary and Olive Oil is, indeed, a short story about food. Finding the perfect home for a piece of writing is difficult and, sometimes, as in this case, kind of magical.

I think this is running off my back for two reasons:
  1. It didn't happen at the time of publication. My recollection is that Alimentum had just shifted from a print to on-line format when Rosemary and Olive was published. I don't believe it was using author photos with the bios at that point. I most certainly would have felt differently if this had happened with my shiny new story.
  2. I'm a bit of an in-this-moment kind of writer. I tend to be involved with what I'm working on now and not that intent on what I did in the past. When speaking with reporters while promoting new books, I can recall them asking if I was excited about the publication we were discussing. I'd have to say, "Ah, I've pretty much moved on to the next book." Rosemary and Olive Oil was published more than two years ago. Yeah, this author photo thing is interesting and I'm going to address it, but I'm far more concerned with the nine chapters I'm revising of my work-in-progress so I can go on to Chapter Ten and, some day, an ending.
I'll be sending that e-mail to Alimentum's editor in a few days, and I'll let you know what happens. If I think of it. If I'm not tied up with something else.


Linda said...

Now you have me wondering how I would react. Interesting post!

Gail Gauthier said...

It's a little scary. I wondered how I'd react and then it happened to me so I found out. I'm afraid to wonder about other situations.