Monday, June 14, 2010


As writers and illustrators, the self we want to share with the public is our words or artwork on the page and not necessarily our physical image. So, the author photo is something to which many of us pay limited heed. In my years working in education and library marketing, I have run into a surprising number of challenging situations resulting from this situation. Here are a few fun ones (names omitted of course):

  • Author with two head shots which barely seem to be of the same person (in one, he has long hair, in the other a bean shave) and no way to tell which is more current
  • Author of children's books who sent me a lovely snap of herself surrounded by books--only problem is the book right in front of her has the word "sex" in big letters on the cover (not so hot for the children's library crowd)
  • Author has obviously cropped a photo of herself with another person whose disembodied hand sits clearly on her shoulder
  • No author photo can be found anywhere and author is reluctant to provide one (!)
Not to mention the myriad tousled hair, rumpled shirt, and laundry/household stuff in the background shots.

Here's my personal photo tale (it really wouldn't be fair to tell you about those others if I didn't have an embarassing story of my own): When my agent recently asked me to send my author photo along, the best I could do was to have my thirteen-year-old snap a picture of my in front of a bookshelf. In her inimitable, polite way, she said "it's a nice picture but the light is a little strong." (Okay, I'm at an age where pretty much all light is a little strong!) But, her comment immediately made me think back to the stories above and I realized this amazing truth:

It's GREAT to have a decent author photo.

The fact is, when I schedule an appearance for an author, the first thing I want to do is help the host publicize this event in the best possible way. I send along links to the author's page at the publisher website, the author's own website/blog/etc., high-resolution images of their book jackets and, if possible, an author photo. In sum, when you promote your work, despite our great literary aspirations, there are times when a picture can be worth a thousand words.

So, I set forth to learn more about getting a good author photo and I HAD ONE TAKEN.  In my next few Book Biz posts, I'll share some tips from folks I consulted, tell you about my photo shoot, and then... The BIG REVEAL (aka a picture of me not taken by one of my kids).


Lisa_Gibson said...

I think investing in a good author photo is a smart thing to do. If I ever get an agent, I'll do just that. :) Have a great day!

JEM said...

Looking forward to the big reveal! It could just be the narcissist in me, but I look forward to the day of the author photo. It's like a wedding photo, the one time I can justify a professional photographer to the partner-in-crime.

Dawn Simon said...

I loved the comment about the strong light, but kind of in a misery loves company sort of way. Hee! When the time comes, I'm totally going to a professional. No messin' around. ;) I can't wait for your big reveal!