Author Photo Outtakes

Earlier this week at the fabulous Debutante Ball Blog, Erika Marks ruminated on the dreaded author photo–that terrifying and stressful bit of awkwardness that has to go on the published book. In a very unscientific poll, I found out that nine out of ten authors would rather write a synopsis than take an author photo. But there are so many bad author photos out there, how bad can yours actually be? If you simply select one of the categories of author photo cliches, at least you’ll know you’re not alone. For your amusement (and because Erika Marks double-dog-dared me) I’ve dedicated this post to author photo cliches and outtakes. I hope you enjoy it.

When I self-published my first novel, I scoured book jackets and author websites to see how writers posed. I found that the overwhelming majority of them stood by trees with their arms crossed, so that’s what I did.

What you don’t see in this picture are my three boys running around the yard like savages while I swat them away between takes. This picture worked well enough for my indie endeavor, but for my new novel (HEMINGWAY’S GIRL) with a traditional publisher, I wanted a new picture. The only thing I was sure about was that I didn’t want my face on my hand, because if an author isn’t standing next to a tree with her arms crossed, it’s likely that she’ll have her face on her hand.

I considered reaching back a bit in time to when my hair didn’t need chemical assistance to lighten it, and my skin glowed without make up. I worried, however, that people would be disappointed if they showed up for a signing and I didn’t look like this anymore.

Then I considered the on location, research with Hemingway shot, but truth be told, Hemingway looked a little creepy in this picture.

Then I thought about going for something a little more edgy. After all, writers from the past often posed with cigarettes. For obvious reasons, however, I vetoed these.


I even wondered if I should go for the truly authentic author photo–the one that captures the day-to-day life of the writer in the reading chair, with the dog, in PJs.

But, no. Just no.

Ultimately, I went to my hometown of Annapolis, Maryland with my friend and photographer Catherine Pelura. We walked the streets, chatted, and snapped photos as we went. Some of my favorite shots were the intense, thinking, gazing off into the distance photos.

I also liked the super-approachable, relaxed garden shot.

I sent several pictures to my publisher and told them to choose. And after all of that, guess which one they picked–the hand on the face shot.

I’m already thinking ahead to my next novel’s author photo. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald are characters, and Zelda was known for jumping in fountains, so maybe I’ll use something like this:

Or we’ll walk the streets of Baltimore, where the book is mostly set, and snap pictures at the old Fitzgerald haunts around town. I’ve already prepared myself that of the fifty photos Catherine will take, I’ll end up picking the one of my hand holding up my head.

Now that I’ve humiliated myself with some of these pictures, I dare YOU (writer, yes you) to blog on some of your author photo ideas and outtakes.


25 thoughts on “Author Photo Outtakes

  1. erikamarks says:

    Oh how much do I love this post???

    You, my dear, had me rolling (ESPECIALLY the part about the boys in the background running around like savages–talk about behind the scenes!) AND you nearly covered all the poses in the Flavorwire piece–nicely done!
    And that last photo would absolutely get Zelda’s stamp of approval.

    Remind me never to double-dog dare you again! (Or maybe I should consider doing it more? πŸ˜‰ )

  2. Marci Jefferson says:

    Great fun, Erika! Especially love the peek at your screen, “All work and no play…” Perfect!

  3. Erika, you are so funny! Yes, the tree shot with the arms foldedβ€”classic. Even those your face is in your hand, it’s a great pic. Maybe a cigarette behind the ear next time.


  4. LOL. Love the cigarette pic. And the computer text obviously reminded me of our trip to Timberline Lodge! Hmm….maybe you should be holding a Key Lime Martini??

  5. Love this post — and really love the in PJ’s shot with the pup in your writing chair. Too Perfect! Although the cigarette shot in front of the monitor gave me a good laugh :).

  6. Hilarious! BTW, Chris says next time you should do the “Got a little Captain in you?” pose. πŸ™‚

  7. Kelly says:

    these are hilarious, it’s great seeing the sneaky mischief that glimmers behind those big pretty eyes really come out and play! these are all beautiful and make me smile.

  8. OMG, Erika, this is the best! I am cracking up! Love love love…let’s your fabulous personality shine with your gorgeous looks! My author photos cost me an arm and a leg and a trip to Capitol Hill during rush hour, but I’m staying with them until I’m too old and gray for anyone to recognize me. xoxo

  9. I love this post! How fun! A great followup would be a post on author research photos … think of the possibilities!

    Thanks for sharing this, Erika. You’re a gorgeous author, inside and out!

  10. i loved these! perhaps next time, a pipe over cigarettes? ultra-hip. πŸ™‚

  11. girlparker says:

    Hilarious, especially the dinosaur-eye side glance!!

  12. Rachel says:

    I know this is old (er…well…I am commenting in April so I guess not THAT old), but this post is so funny Ericka! I also wanted to ask – What your next novel is about? I LOVE Zelda and Scott so much (and yes I am 22 and I spent ALL of high school researching them lol my goal still is to write a YA historical fic on them **geek**), and I am always interested in reading books with them as characters or biographies etc. Love the author photo… I always like the author photos with funky hair but thats cause I never had the guts to do that πŸ™‚

    • erikarobuck says:

      Rachel, I admire you for researching them all throughout high school! My novel, REMEMBERING ZELDA, begins in 1932 when Zelda is admitted into the Phipps Psychiatric Clinic at Johns Hopkins, and spans the rest of her life. Think of it as Scott and Zelda after the party. It won’t be out until September of 2013.

      I wish you all the best with your YA on the Fitzgeralds. I would love to read that! And thanks for stopping by my blog.

      PS: Don’t worry about my name. I get that all the time. πŸ™‚

  13. Rachel says:

    I’m sorry I typed your name wrong Erika! πŸ™‚

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