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    Bridge Ladies Sometimes I think a meteor could strike the earth and wipe out mankind with the exception of my mother’s Bridge club — Roz, Bea, Bette, Rhoda, and Jackie — five Jewish octogenarians who continue to gather for lunch and Bridge on Mondays as they have for over fifty years. When I set out to learn about the women behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, and most of all the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Faces Come Out of the Rain

On the other hand

Hello Betsy,

Thank you for making yourself available for questions. I’ve read conflicting opinions about the following:

Is it a good idea to include a photograph in the bio portion of the book proposal?

Thank you,

Name Withheld

Dear Name Withheld:

No, it is not. I’ve seen quite a few. Everything from 8 x 10 glossy head shots to a guy standing in a motor boat holding a big fish. I’ve seen bikini clad women, candid photos of friends at Hooters, college year book photos, at a lectern giving a speech, you name it. Unless you are a body builder writing about body building, please keep your pecs to yourself. For some reason author photos look amateurish and grasping when they arrive with proposals and manuscripts. How then can it be explained why we love having them inside book jackets?

Another publishing conundrum.

Thanks for writing. Betsy

21 Responses

  1. As a children’s book editor, I get the most AWESOME photos in the slush pile. I have photos of people in clown and mime getup, and one of a self-proclaimed “Queen of Peace” in a ballgown and tiara. And people cuddlng dogs and cats and snakes, sitting on unicycles, etc.

  2. But dude, I just had all that work done. Fuck it, I’m starting a streaming webcam on my blog.

  3. Pre-publication: Approach an agent or editor in a professional manner. Maintain this self-effacing, courteous, intelligent behavior throughout the process.

    Post-publication: Why the fuck aren’t you dressed in a tutu and tiara, and hawking your book at every VFW spaghetti dinner in the tri-state area? Do you even -want- your book to sell?

  4. Okay, Betsy; who is that guy? I’m sitting here at my computer sweating and feeling all, well, you know.
    Not fair! It’s too early in the morning for this kind of wiggle-waggle. One more cup of coffee and I’ll come back for another look!

    • Sebastian Junger. hhttp://tinyurl.com/32qfsth

    • a drink would be better, don’tchathink?

      dirty bastard
      1/2 oz. blackberry liquor
      1 oz. cranberry juice
      squeeze of lime
      1.5 oz. dirty vodka

      mix together with crushed ice and garnish with mint leaves

  5. Thanks, August. Going out to get the rest of his books.

  6. I hate people, but I love reading their resumes. I still remember a resume I got back in 1978 when I was a manager of a cool-for-the-suburbs clothing store in a mall in Montgomeryville, Pennsylvania (I was 22). A local college girl, aspiring to be my assistant manager, sent me her resume and under the Personal section she wrote: “I have traveled extensively on the Eastern seaboard.” (Meaning: she goes to the Jersey shore every weekend, maybe went to Daytona Beach once for Spring break.) All these years later I still remember that resume. The writer was Blanche Duboisesque at such a young age. ..check those photograhically enhanced book proposals for a Montgomeryville return address.

    Author photos are crucial: I insist on getting a good look at the author of any book I consider reading. Chances are if the guy has a beard or the lady-writer has frizzy hair, I won’t even bother.

    • The man mustn’t be bearded, nor the lady frizzy -haired, eh?
      Well, I won’t touch a book by an elderly woman with hair cascading down her back teenage-style.

    • Anton Chekov, Margaret Atwood, and I say phooey to your hair-bias.

  7. Do we love looking at author photos? I guess I’ll make a note of that because I always assumed it was a direct challenge to find everything weird or hilarious about the picture. Like, the fact that that guy looks like Mac Tonight.

  8. Walt Whitman, Proust, Washington Irving, Hemingway,
    Toni Morrison, Hal Duncan, Voltaire, Jesus, Andrea Barrett, Epictetus, Bukowski- at odd times (yes, there were always odd), St. Augustine (esp. the one where he’s holding the flaming heart!), Tennyson, Tolstoy, Marquis De Sade, (Imagine Gertrude Stein- the fab photo of here walking towards you), o so many more.

  9. Sometimes a pipe is just a pipe.

  10. Can we talk about color versus black and white author photos?

  11. Best author photo in color…..James Lee Burke

  12. I don’t have the chops to address this, found on another publishing blog: “When you get rejection letters, let them fill you with gratitude that you’ve learned something; at the very least, you’ve learned that this particular agent or publisher isn’t for you at this time.”

    • You have the chops you just don’t want to limbo that low

      • There is no broomstick so low that I will not try to crawl beneath it.

        Someone mentioned The Secret , and I remembered that the week after The Secret hit the NYT list, I emailed my agent asking if I could sell a take-off called “The Truth” or something, about how, actually, life is shit and you don’t get what you want.

        He sent me a polite reply (complete with subtext reading: “No, you douche.”). And that wasn’t even my lowest idea.

  13. Am I the only woman on the planet who thinks that Sebastian Junger looks like a big glans?

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