Thursday, May 26, 2011

What Is That Woman's Face Doing on My Book Jacket?

Caroline Leavitt
Think about it, fellow book bloggers and book lovers.

I have to believe that almost every one of us has dreamed, to one degree or another (realistically, or not), how cool it would be to see the our name on the cover of one of those books we have on our shelves.  What is not to like about being a published author, after all?  Well, one published author with eight books under her belt wants you to know that it feels much better when the publisher does not put someone else's picture on the back flap instead of yours.

As Caroline Leavitt says over at, the fun started when she received a few copies of the Chinese version of her latest novel.  She loved everything about the book, even wishing she could read the Chinese translation, until her husband alerted her to the "author picture" on the book's back flap.
Not Caroline Leavitt
There, on my book, over my name in English, is a big color photograph of a complete and absolute stranger. The woman in the photograph is beautiful. She has straight, shortish hair where mine is curly and long, She wears glasses where I do not. She's beaming where I always try to look mysterious in my photos. The only thing we have in common is we're both women and both white.
...the mystery is solved. I know it could have been worse. What if the edition had been in America, where I know people and they know me? No one in China will ever know it's a mistake. And I tell myself an author photo is just window dressing. What matters is my novel, my writing -- that's what's important, isn't it?
To find out who the mysterious stranger is, how her picture ended up on the book jacket, and how her identity was discovered, please read the whole Salon article.  You'll get a kick out of the "other woman's" reaction.


  1. Whoa! I've read about and seen all kinds of errors in books. At my library, we watch out for books with pages bound upside down and backwards, books where the wrong pages have been bound into a book (I seem to remember one with a bunch of pages of menstruation, in a book that had nothing to do with the subject - even the font on those pages was completely different), books where some of the pages have been left out, etc. Sometimes books will come with errata sheets that I'll need to make sure our processing staff glue into the book. I've never heard of the wrong author photo being included, though. I kind of thought it was going to turn out that it was some random person on the publishing staff, whose picture had been used as a placeholder or something, and then they forgot to replace it with the real picture.

  2. I'm glad both she and Summer have a good sense of humor about the snafu. I've been a Caroline Leavitt fan since an excerpt from her novel "Meeting Rozzy Halfway" appeared in Redbook.