Face values - Karen Bush

Does my bum look big on this? And do you really care?

How much information do you really need - or want - about an author?

When I was much younger, if I'd just finished a really good book, all I really wanted to know was whether the author had written any more, so a list of titles was all I wanted. Sometimes though, reluctant to put the book down, I'd read the bit of bumph about the author found at the front of the book in paperbacks, and on the dustjacket if it was a hardback still in possession of one.
Occasionally it offered tantalising little snippets of information: my Narnia books informed me that the young Clive had lived in Belfast (where I was living at the time, instantly making me feel there was a special bond between us) and had decided to write the sort of books which he would have liked to read when he was young. I learned that Gillian Baxter, who wrote some brilliant pony stories, had written - and got published - her first novel when she was fifteen; there's an inspirational act to follow. In later years I enjoyed the constantly evolving humorous mini-biogs of Terry Pratchett, and loved Anne McCaffrey's description of herself - "My eyes are green, my hair is silver and I freckle; the rest is subject to change without notice."
But set against this was the terrible disillusionment of author photos. So often they were not how I'd imagined them to look: as a child I remember the bitter disappointment of discovering that TH White didn't look like Merlin and Tolkien didn't resemble either Gandalf or a hobbit. Yes, very shallow of me, but hey, I was a kid. I found that I much preferred my authors to preserve a little bit of mystery and magic and stay firmly out of my eyesight. And as a childish adult, I've retained the same feeling.

So how much - and what - information should you include when writing up your author blurb? Personally, I'm all for keeping it minimal. I like my privacy and I'd hate to disappoint my readers by not coming up to the mark appearance-wise. And if a reader really wants to find out more, everyone seems to have a website and/or blog these days (even my whippets have one) and the internet makes it easy to research writers.

So how do you prefer your favourite authors? Lots of info available about them, or remaining shrouded in mystery, living an imagined exotic and out-of-the-ordinary life ...

The Great Rosette Robbery and other stories

available on Kindle with truthful but exciting author blurb included and absolutely no author picture!

Find out more about whippets who blog at


Lee said…
The only thing I want to know is what else they've written - and whether I can find it online.
Susan Price said…
No Karen, your bum doesn't look big on that - you look magnificent!
Completely agree about author photographs. One reason I became an author was that nobody would see me! And when I found a publisher, almost the first thing they wanted was a photo of me! Oh, the disappointments of life.
Sorry to see Angel got hurt - hope she's feeling better.
Jan Needle said…
when i wrote some thrillers under a different name a few years ago i indulged myself with a new persona. it was brilliant - i was even able to claim i'd once made my living washing dishes on a liberty ship, like all my lying heroes. i sometimes wonder if shakespeare used to wash pots before he found a woman to finance him. and when i've had pictures of me on the back cover, complete with beard, people still think i'm female. what's in a name?
madwippitt said…
Thank you for your kindly comment Sue - and yes, Angel is doing nicely thank you - hope you're feeling better too.
And Jan - so you're not a bearded lady then? :-)
Karen that is one dashing photo. I used your books extensively when I was a new - and gobsmacked - horse owner, so it's great to be sharing blogspace with you!
I definitely favour the humorous and human biog and love your Anne McCaffrey example. I'm afraid I do like to see an author photo too - but that's because I've got used to books always having them. Funnily enough, though, the authors usually look nothing like I imagine them from their writing voice.

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