Monday, September 20, 2010

The Great Author Photo Dilemma

There comes a time in every author's life when they have to pass that coming-of-age moment in their writing career: the author bio picture. The process usually begins with hours staring into the mirror trying out various ways of holding your head, positioning your shoulders and/or hands so that you look intelligent, approachable, and attractive while downplaying your large nose that makes you look like a camel. Or like Tim Curry, according to a certain online Celebrity Look-a-like program which has in no way traumatized me, thank you very much.

I know most authors hate to get their bio pictures taken. A friend went through the whole sordid experience only to have her editor tell her that it looked too much like a yearbook picture.

And there's no way you want that.
(This isn't me. Though I swear this girl went to my high school. And kept Aqua Net hairspray in business.)

There's the life or death decisions of what to wear, which accessories, how to do your hair, whether to leave the hobo beard or go clean shaven, do your own makeup or hire someone else to do it who will cake it on so thick you wipe it off and end up doing it yourself anyway, etc. And then there's the all-important decision of the general feel of the picture--the mood you want to evoke.

There are so many options:

Thoughtful. (Make sure to stare into the distance.)

Amy Tan

Intense. (With a hint of I'm thinking of a hundred ways to incapacitate you.)

Jim Butcher

Other-worldly. (A good choice for paranormal authors.)

Yasmin Galenorn

Successful. (I'm surrounded by all the books I've published, which is, like, 5,000 more than you.)

James Patterson

Distinctive. (With curly hair that others can't resist pulling just to watch it bounce back. Yes, I have read Ramona the Pest.)

Jodi Piccoult

Scary. (Which is really unfortunate if you write for children.)

Shel Silverstein

Relaxed. (Because we all know writing a book is a breeze, right?)

J.K. Rowling

Leaning against something. (Argh! Should I lean against a wall or a lamp post? I can't decide!)

Jeffrey Deaver

With an interesting background. (I think this photo was doctored. I hope.)

Rachel Caine

Or, there's always this option.
That one sounds good to me.


Janet Johnson said...

I really shouldn't be laughing. But this topic makes me giggle. :) I know I'll get to this dilemma one day, but it just seems so . . . funny in the mean time.

WindyA said...

I'm a big fan of that last one myself. Might have to get that artist's number from you to do my author photos ;)

Shallee said...

This totally made me laugh. I loved Shel Silverstein's!

Stephanie Humphreys said...

Ugh! I hate having my picture taken. I would definitely vote for the last one. Shel Silverstein always did look a little creepy, but I love his books.

Elana Johnson said...

The last one is what I totally need to do. And just so you know, my shoot on Friday was also a complete flop. FLOP. Ugh.

Jolene Perry said...

There is just NO way to not look like you're trying too hard.
So, does this go on our list of reasons to be happy about being in a state of pre-publication?

Karlene said...

That is so funny because I just did a photo shoot (which I hate because I'm the most UNphotogenic person in the world) and I narrowed it down to 10 photos which are now up on my blog for a vote.

Karlene said...

A vote with a prize.

Kerrie said...

Loved all the photos. Shel Silverstein does look scary. The only tip I have is to find a photographer you are comfortable with. It may cost a little more, but then your photo will seem more relaxed and unforced.


Don said...

I tried out the Jodi Piccoult look, but it ended up too much like Weird Al instead.

My wife nixed the Shel Silverstein version.

Angie said...

Oh, funny. I both look forward to and dread the day I'll need an author photo. Maybe I'll use one of my kids' drawings of me. Those are cute.

L.T. Elliot said...

That girl DID keep aquanet in business! And hair-picks, too, methinks. ;)

I liked the one author who pretended to be a gargoyle. ;)

Deborah said...

I want to see Don as Weird Al.

Cinette said...

I don't even have a picture of myself for my blog; now I'm all queazy about author photos. Maybe I should be more concerned with finishing the manuscripts...;-)

Patti said...

Getting an author photo done, is something I totally dread. I'm learning how to photoshop already. Funny post.