TIME Authors

This Is How ‘Lady Authors’ Were Told to Promote Their Books in the 1960s

"The new sort of lady author is always photographed in bed"

Modern advice for any writer looking to make a living might include working tirelessly to hone one’s craft, striving to understand the business and considering whether one’s narrative would work in a movie adaptation. But in 1969, when model-turned-author Jeanne Rejaunier was promoting her new novel, The Beauty Trap, the advice was a little more gender-specific.

In a LIFE photo essay called “What it takes to be a lady author anymore,” Rejaunier posed for shots that demonstrated how a woman should promote her literary work. A successful lady author, the captions suggested, must “swim a little,” “exercise in a bikini” and be “photographed in bed.” The essay attributed the success of her book, a novel based on the dark side of the modeling world, to Rejaunier’s beauty rather than her literary talents: “Just possibly because she smiles so prettily on the book jacket (the back and the front of the book) The Beauty Trap is now in its fourth printing.”

It’s difficult to know, in retrospect, whether the captions might be tinged with a hint of satire, or whether Rejaunier’s participation was entirely voluntary or urged by eager publicists. Whatever the intent, the effect was to suggest that a few sultry glamor shots would go further than any serious engagement with the substance of the book.

Whether or not Rejaunier enjoyed fulfilling the role of a “lady author” as LIFE proscribed it—a former model, she was at least used to posing for photos—there were certainly forces beyond her control influencing the marketing strategy for her novel. “There is a difference of opinion about whether or not Jeanne put herself inside The Beauty Trap as a character,” read the article. “The publisher is responsible for putting her outside it.”

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.

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