FOR A GROWING NUMBER OF GORGEOUS AUTHORS, GLAMOUR-NOT GRAMMER-IS THE KEY TO BIG SALES

By A.J. Jacobs
Updated March 31, 1995 at 05:00 AM EST

The essential tools for the modern writer: dictionary, paper, word processor, and hair gel? Welcome to publishing, ’90s style. Coke-bottle glasses are out; sex appeal is in. It’s just plain good business: Head-turning writers get to hawk their books on Good Morning America, appear in sexy Vogue spreads, and lure bookstore browsers with a huge jacket photo. The publicity can boost an obscure novel to best-seller. Herewith, some babelicious scribes who’ve used their faces as well as their pens to attract readers. Peter Hoeg * The Books: Much like Smilla’s Sense of Snow (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1993), his Borderliners (FSG, 1994) is a thinking person’s mystery based in Copenhagen. * The Look: The Danish H eg has spiked blond hair and a look one reviewer called a ”dreamy blend of Keats and Baryshnikov.” (Large photos almost always accompany his reviews.) ”He has a real force field of intensity that comes across even in the pictures,” says his American editor, Elisabeth Dyssegaard.

Anka Radakovich * The Book: The Wild Girls Club (Crown, 1994). A collection of Anka’s sexploits, from test-driving a condom to ordering escorts. * The Look: The cover shows the magazine columnist puckering her cherry-red lips and really stretching a stretch top. Anka knows a good-though sometimes altered- | picture is worth a thousand sales: ”People would prefer to have a cute- looking girl writing about her sexual adventures than some hideous 500- pounder.”

Greg Sarris * The Book: Grand Avenue (Hyperion, 1994). A collection of stories about Native Americans in California. A fan of the book, Robert Redford, will introduce the HBO miniseries, due next fall. * The Look: In the author photo (right), Sarris has three shirt buttons open, revealing a swath of hair on his pumped-up chest. But, he says, it could have been worse: The photographer took an entire roll of Sarris naked to the waist. There was even talk of having him hang from a street sign with his pants button undone. Of his looks, the onetime CHiPs actor says, ”You always wonder, ‘Do I have talent? Or are (fans) just sending letters because of the picture?”’

Susan Minot * The Books: Her novels and short story collections-Monkeys (Dutton, 1986), Lust & Other Stories (Houghton Mifflin, 1989), and Folly (Houghton Mifflin, 1992)-are page after page of upper-middle-class angst. * The Look: On the back cover of Folly (left), the author lets her hand rest near her breast, which is barely covered by her jacket. ”Yes, the famous jeans-jacket shot,” recalls photographer Jerry Bauer. ”Well, it just so happened she put her hand there. I don’t find it particularly suggestive. But a lot of authors say to me that they want to look like Susan Minot.”

Brad Gooch * The Books: Scary Kisses (Putnam, 1988), a juicy novel about modeling, and City Poet (Knopf, 1993), a bio of Frank O’Hara. * The Look: The author and ex-model shows us his GQ moves on the jacket of Scary Kisses. The back cover (right) serves up an enormous close-up-parted lips to show sex appeal, a finger on the temple to show high IQ. ”Truman Capote sold books with photos of himself,” he says. ”Every writer’s sort of a salesman in a sense.”

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