I wish to be cremated. One tenth of my ashes shall be given to my agent, as written in our contract. Groucho Marx
By: Stacey Purcell
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. As authors, we hope that our picture might be worth attracting a thousand fans. In days past, authors like Plato, Charles Dickens, and Jane Austen would never have had to worry about people seeing their image. Those days are gone. Readers want to read the books, but they also want to know about the author. Modern technology fulfills that wish.
One of the first things I noticed when I jumped into this crazy writer’s life is that EVERYONE had a picture of themselves. The pictures are on web sites, blogs, Facebook, My Space etc. So what did I do? I perused through our family albums until I found one of myself that I liked. Copy, paste and voila! I had my picture up too.
That is not the way you should do it.
I’m a prime example of how to do that bit incorrectly.
This is our front line of marketing and I’m surprised to see that I’m not the only one doing it wrong. I’ve looked through a ton of author photos and have discovered my vacation shot seems pretty darn awesome compared to some of the images out there. I’ve looked at shots where the writer looks disheveled, the background is a messy house and the eyes look stoned… or terrified. (I’m still trying to work that one out.) Come on people, we can do better than that!
It doesn’t matter what route you take with publishing or even if you are published- You need a good picture of yourself to fling about the internet. How do you do that?
- Use a professional photographer- If you can afford it, this would be the best route. If not, try to find a friend that takes good pictures and has some basic idea of light, color and posing. This will greatly improve the quality of your shot.
- Focus on a head shot- People want to be able to look into your eyes. I know it sounds corny, but it’s true. You might also want to have some full body poses and use them for different things,
- Dress normally(professional)- The internet is forever so if you decide to appear in costume or look like you’re dressed for a rainy Saturday at home alone, your readers will form instant opinions of you…and your life. It’s been said to dress like you would if you were going to an interview because this is a type of visual interview. I think that can be taken to an extreme as well. Nice, casual, formal- whatever represents you as a person and how you would like to be in a reader’s memory.
- Be creative- A picture does speak volumes and can convey many things. You might want to incorporate items from your genre. I’ve seen some very interesting steam punk authors’ photos and they are very cool. Don’t go overboard because you are a professional writer and this is your corporate image.
- Are You Approachable- Readers will react emotionally to your photo. Are you approachable? Can people connect with this shot? What do you want to convey? These are all questions you should think about when presenting yourself to the world.
It looks like I’ve got to look for a photographer…just as soon as I get back from a getaway trip with my two best friends from high school to Mexico. Since I write thrillers set in exotic locations and travel has been such a huge part of my life, maybe I should try taking some head shots there. Hmmmmm the work never stops!