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.