Your work is being published and you are over the moon. The work being published has been created so all the hard work is over, right? WRONG!
I was recently fortunate enough to have a chapbook published, a collection of short stories I'd written at university, and it is to be released tomorrow. During the publication process we had to turn our minds to marketing. Head shots and author photos had to be provided. The only problem was I didn't have any appropriate head shots or previous author photos as this was my first time being published.
Of course a lot of promotional work goes on when it comes to marketing your book afterwards and you want to showcase your work in the best possible light. Many of us authors have to, at one point or another, have an author photo taken to promote our work. I had to go out recently to take my own author photos. Here is some quick tips for when it comes to taking a good author photo and some tips on how to take a decent picture to promote yourself and your work.
- Consider the setting. You probably don't want to use a photo you took whilst curled up in bed or in a public bathroom unless this gritty or personal feel suits the work you're submitting.
- Trying to take an author photo on a grainy laptop webcam, I have found, only produces very low quality photos. Time to have someone else step in or buy yourself a decent camera to work with.
- Make sure you have good lighting. You want to show yourself off, not hide in the darkness (no matter how dark and brooding you may think you are)
- Try not to look too intense. This is when you can practice looking really deep and meaningful to trick your friends and family into thinking that being a published writer makes your thoughts slightly more profound than theirs. You just don't want to overdo it. That's when you stop being "cool author friend" and become "that douche."
- It may sound obvious but you probably don't want photos where you're pulling silly faces or making gestures unless, perhaps, it suits the tone of the novel.
- Onesies probably don't make the best impression no matter how snuggly and comfortable they are.
- Try to relax. You don't want to be immortalised with a photo that makes you look like you're perpetually constipated.
- If there are two of you make sure you and your co-author are in the photo rather than one being slightly out of frame as if to suggest their contribution was somehow less worthy. Or, you know, have separate photos.
- Brushing your hair, teeth and making sure you look clean and decent is probably a good place to start too especially if you've written a horror novel. You don't want to be mistaken for the nocturnal monsters you've written about.
- Try working your angles in a mirror first. Yes, darling. Vogue!
- And finally... No mirror selfies. Ever. Unless your book is about MySpace trends from six years ago and it's purely contextual.
I suppose the general message here is that it's your book. You've worked hard and so I guess you can do whatever you want as long as it fits in with the general tone of what you've written. All I'd say is that, if you really must provide author photos, put in a good deal of time, thought and effort to match the time, thought and effort that went into the book itself. Plan it out and workshop a few ideas before getting the final photo done. Maybe just make sure to have someone check it out and give it the thumbs up before you send it off. Remember, once it goes to the printers it's there forever...