Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Your Book... In A Bikini

If you follow me on Twitter you know that I've started a body sculpting class. I've always been a team sport athlete, but as I get older I've noticed that there aren't a lot of mid 30's just randomly available for me to play barnyard games with, so I'm hitting the gym now. Yes, cardio is good for your heart. Yes, I want to sleep well and have more energy without drinking something that might make my heart burst instead. But, I have all those purely egotistical reasons for working out too - it's the summer, and magazines, pop-up ads and commercials have been asking me for months if I've got my bikini body ready.

The short answer: no.

The long answer: I look pretty good with clothes on, but strip me down for the beach and we're looking at razor burn that might need medical attention and dimples in places that aren't so flattering. My fair Irish skin is pale like a post-mortem Scarlett O'Hara. To quote Kevin Spacey's disarmingly frank line from American Beauty: "I just want to look good naked."

And that's the trick of the bikini - you're not wearing much, so everything's gotta look good. You can't cover up those flabby upper arms and hope the push-up bra will be distracting enough. You can't wear waterproof mascara and assume people are looking at your face. Everything is up for dissection by the public.

Same goes for your book.

The cover and first chapter are important, like your general silhouette. You might be able to reel them in, but are they gonna get closer and go for the casual nod instead of engaging? What if Chapter Two is the equivalent of starting a conversation to find out you've got bad breath?

Too often I hear writers say, "Yeah there's a downswing here but the next scene really picks up." Or, "I know there's a huge info dump at the beginning but if you can get past that, it's totally awesome." Right. And the obese chick with a good personality gets all the guys on the beach.

Your book is going to be naked. Every page is going to be turned (hopefully). Every word will be exposed to an eyeball. And you can't very well say, "Do me a favor and read this next bit in the dark."

NOT A DROP TO DRINK will be out in the world soon, every page exposed and every word under scrutiny of reviewers, bloggers and good old-fashioned readers. I'm confident that myself, my agent, editor, copy-editor, and the entire team at Katherine Tegen can say that DRINK looks pretty good in a bikini.

Now if we could only say that about the author....
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Mindy McGinnis is a YA author and librarian. Her debut, NOT A DROP TO DRINK, is a post-apocalyptic survival tale set in a world where freshwater is almost non-existent, available from Katherine Tegen / Harper Collins September 24, 2013. She blogs at Writer, Writer Pants on Fire and contributes to the group blogs Book PregnantFriday the ThirteenersFrom the Write AngleThe Class of 2k13The Lucky 13s & The League of Extraordinary Writers. You can also find her on TwitterTumblr & Facebook.

2 comments:

  1. Hahaha! I laughed so hard at this... Great post!

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  2. I never thought I'd say this, but this post is, well, kind of offensive.

    "Too often I hear writers say, 'Yeah there's a downswing here but the next scene really picks up.' Or, 'I know there's a huge info dump at the beginning but if you can get past that, it's totally awesome.' Right. And the obese chick with a good personality gets all the guys on the beach."

    Yes, I have known obese chicks at the beach who did get all the boys. Why? Because in addition to being obese they were confident, happy, gorgeous, and charismatic.

    I get what you're trying to say. "Make your book as good as you can because no one is going to cut you any slack in the real world." But equating whether or not a person's book is polished with a person's weight is… well, offensive. This post is fatshaming girls, plain and simple.

    I thought writing was one of the few places where our bodies don't matter. Where our minds are our bread and butter.

    I get it. This was all just a metaphor for making your book good. But it's a really, really damaging metaphor to use. And I had to speak up.

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