Using Photographs as Character References vs. Portrayals

I’ve started to notice the glossy, steamy photographs that some authors use on their covers. While I am never personally drawn to these types of covers, I know that they can help sell books. To me they scream of falsehood and insincerity and a host of characters that will mostly likely be nothing more than cliched stereotypes. The characters that I write about are flawed and I don’t mean that in a bad way necessarily. I like my characters to remind the reader of someone they might know, which often means leaving most of their actual features up to the readers’ imaginations. That being said, I do have a fairly full mental picture of what they look like and when I go seeking an actual photograph that might portray them, I look to era-specific magazines. I have an entire box of Life magazines from the 1960’s & 1970’s (when “Red, White & Blues” takes place) and I look for the pictures of everyday people. Sometimes I will use a person from an ad (which would mean that they are most likely a model), but I generally prefer just a face in the crowd. Does a sexy cover draw you to pick up and then read (or download) a book? I suppose it might if you were looking for a romance novel or one that fit into the degrading “chick lit” genre. I may be posting some character pictures soon, so if you have read the book and are curious what I as the author envision the characters to look like, then stay tuned and feel free to let me know your thoughts…


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