from manuscript to bookstore -- the publishing process

Photo session
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So in the Comments (which, btw, you read by clicking on them and not on the entry they go with), Sarah asks, "Will you be Ettlingered?"

If you didn't read the NY Times Arts and Leisure two Sundays ago you won't get the reference. Marion Ettlinger is a very hot author photographer with a style so distinctive that writers she shoots are spoken of as having been Ettlingered.

And yes, ladies and gentlemen, I was!

Before this I've used photos taken by friends, some of them very good photographers, but all amateurs. Because ABSENT FRIENDS is a different kind of book, for a new publisher, and because that publisher (Bantam) wants to move me to another level with it, nothing would do but an Ettlinger photograph. Having seen her photos of Peter Robinson, Jonathan Santlofer, and Laura Lippman, I was thrilled at the idea.

I got to her studio at 11 am. We had a cup of tea and she studied me, asking whether I'd be willing to take my glasses off and whether I insisted on wearing my hair behind my ears. Since neither my glasses nor my ears are so spectacular that I think the whole world needs to see them, I agreed to both. That was the extent of her modifying my look -- no hairdresser, no makeup, no wardrobe person.

Before you go for your appointment you send her the photos you've used previously, and the book she's photographing for. She actually reads your book to get a sense of who you are -- I've had publicists who haven't read my books! (Nor has my brother.) Then when you get there she's got a board set up with images on it -- photos, paintings, drawings -- of people who project the image she wants to give you. On my board she had Katherine Hepburn, Jane Fonda, Eleanora Duse, Isadora Duncan, and Calamity Jane, among others. The Calamity Jane one made me wish I'd brought a gun.

I spent 5 hours in her studio posing on a wide variety of furniture under natural light. I had such a good time! We nibbled on fruit and nuts, drank tea, talked and talked. She's very focussed and I love to watch experts do what they do.

Anyway, 5 hours and a dozen roles of film later, she thought she'd gotten some good stuff. She'll be sending me what she considers the best ones, and I'll make the final choice. I can't wait to see them.

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