The random—and not so random—musings of a quirky Regency romance writer.
No one with that many people in her head can possibly be normal...

Thursday, April 9, 2009

On the Importance of Author Photos

How important are author photos?

I have wrestled with this question for several months now. I use a picture of my daughter in all my profiles because I do NOT have a photo of myself that I at all care for. Well, maybe a wedding photo, but that was over ten years ago. Would that be acceptable? A photo from when I was young and thin...and blond. (Blonds really do have more fun, by the way.) I don't do photos--I am unphotogenic. (My spellchecker tells me this is not a word. It also says spellchecker is not a word. Go figure.)

So I leave it to you, the reader of this humble blog. I have added a poll. Choose how important you feel author photos are. Your opinion will decide whether or not I go through the tremendous effort required of me to reveal to YOU what I look like.

Oh, and if you comment to this post offering your opinion, I will draw a name to receive a signed copy of my new release, Deception, a Regency romance--ultimate release date as yet to be determined.

Happy reading, blogging, and polling!

(Poll will be closed May 9th. Winner of Deception will be drawn May 15th.)


Anonymous said...

Well, I hope they are not important when it comes to selling books! My mother, also an author, insisted I have one for a recent magazine article about us and our books. I can't tell you how many photos my hubby took! I did find one that I thought was okay but not great. And I'm not so sure a professional photographer would improve the situation. ;) I find it interesting to see author photos on books I read but by no means necessary.

Rachel said...

I found that my daughter did a better job at taking pictures than my husband did. (She's only 6!!) It's a thought! And if I'd quit giving you suggestions, maybe Deception would be finished sooner, huh! LOL! I still think Heartless is my favorite! But I like them all! Happy Easter! (Or actually, I guess it's Good Friday today.)

Gina Collia-Suzuki said...

I've not had a photo of me on one of my books yet... I'm working up to it and might be ready when I'm 80. But I do think it's worthwhile having one online, so people can see you're a human being when you're networking. I do hate mine though. I'm thinking of going to a studio... then a professional can use smoke and mirrors to make me look respectable and writerly.

Jeff Caminsky said...

Jaimey---pass this message to your husband, without reading it. (I'm sure he'll come to read your blog if you ask him):

My wife hates having me take pictures of her, so the good ones I've gotten are usually those taken by stealth or surprise. If Jaimey "doesn't do photos," you may have to adopt a similar approach. For this, a small point-and-shoot would probably be better than a heavyweight Nikon.

You might try reassuring her that she looks just fine. She won't believe you, of course (most wives don't; I think it has something to do with the estrogen in her system, but I'm haven't seen any definitive studies), but it will make her feel better, and may make her slightly less shy about it. prepared to go through hundreds of digital photos until you get one she can live with. It won't matter that most of them are perfectly fine, and humoring her will spare you both some grief. But in the end, it will probably help her make a connection with her readers...and that's really what most writers want.

Joyce DiPastena said...

I'm horribly unphotogenic, too (not that I believe YOU really are!) and only found one photo of myself I could stand to use on my website, until I lucked into a couple photos I almost-like from the RenFest. I actually practically begged my editor not to include a photo of me with my book, Loyalty's Web, but would she listen? No! I think the best photos of me are taken "by accident", when I'm not actually posing for them. When I pose, I look like an idiot. Maybe you could get someone in your family to go around snapping pictures of you when you're not expecting it. You might come up with something you like! (I'd draw the line at letting them snap photos in your nightie, though. ;-) )

Odie's Mom said...

Morning Jaimey,

No matter what anyone says, your readers want to know what an author looks like. They want to connect with the author on a personal level. Promo Photos of an author do make a difference, and they are important.

However, you do not have to have movie star exotic looks (and it might surprise you to know that most movie stars do not have “movie star exotic looks” when they roll out of bed). A professional photographer can make the average person look like a movie star. It is a matter of makeup, lights and angles.

I would suggest that you invest in a portrait setting with a professional photographer who specializes in portrait work. It is an investment in your future. Sooner or later you will be asked if you have a headshot for publicity write-ups. When you win the next “best book of the year award,” the event planners will require a headshot.

Just remember, everyone is photogenic with the right photographer!

Dee Marie
Twitter: Dee_Marie_SOA

kgcummings said...

Jaimey, the eyes are the mirror to the soul. A good portrait photographer can do the rest with proper lighting and head angle for your best look. Call a make up consultant for a free makeover before heading to the photographer, indulge! Just remember to smile with your eyes.
Your friend, Kathy

Rita J. Webb said...

Oh, you sound just like I do!!! I am dreading getting my picture taken, but I think it is important. In fact, it is probably essential. Your fans will want to connect with you. They want to feel like they know you.

I agree with kgcummings--make the whole thing a celebration. Get dolled up, get your hair done at a salon, have them do your makeup. Get a professional photographer.

And when it's all done, I'd love to see how it turns out.

carole said...

I am totally unphotogenic also and hate it when people point cameras at me.
In the early days I think a good book cover is probably more important than a photo of the author. But, as you become better known, and your author name grows larger, then people become more interested in the face behind the cover. Call it the price of fame. Make the effort and go to a professional, they know how to get the best out of a face. Nervous, well maybe, but after all it can't be any worse than going to the dentist!

Atalanta said...

Hi, I'm a publishing student at the University of Pretoria and we had a similar discussion in class last year.

For relatively new authors a photo of themselves could come off as a bit arrogant, but if the author is well known and well established in her/his market, a photo (even if you have a uni-brow) makes the author seem more "real" to the readers.

It makes the readers feel that you’re not just this fairy queen they aren’t able to see, producing works time and time again that they'll love, but that you're the same as them: human, flawed and normal. Some people even think that not putting a photo on their books is a form of vanity!

The most important thing with photos (other than some authors' wish to be recognised in a grocery store by complete strangers) is that it is a means for the author to relate to her/his audience and inspiring them by showing that they too may have the ability to do something amazing.

So if you want to put a photo on the cover go ahead, just look comfortable being who you are and don't be scared if you think you don't look like Audrey Hepburn (very few people do, or ever will and that's probably all they've got going for them!). And if you decide not to, that’s also fine, I mean J.K. Rowling didn’t either and that didn’t impact the sales of her books at all!

I love seeing what my favourite authors look like and reading the little biography in the beginning of the book, learning where they came from and how they got started.


Simon said...

I have always loved photos of the author. I like to see the face of the person whose story I read. I used to lean to male authors until I read Ayn Rand, good thing I was young or else I would missed out on many wonderful stories and characters written by women. I can tell you that an author's looks make no difference to me. I choose books by genre or recommendation or just plain curiosity. I do however lose interest in a story that does not grab me. That's my two cents.

Jaimey said...

Thank you, everyone, for your very informative responses! As you can see, I took the advice of the majority and added a photo of myself. Maybe when I manage to get a more recent one that I am comfortable with, I will change this one. Until then, the look on my face is one that my brother assures me is eloquent of my outlook on life so it will stay. ;o)

I've had several positive responses on my pic. To those of you who think I was just fishing for compliments with all my "I am unphotogenic" stuff, please recall the episode of FRIENDS where Monica and Chandler get their engagement pic taken. Remember how Chandler always ended up with a weird look on his face? Yup, that's me, folks. My husband can't believe it, but every time a camera points my way, my face goes all weird. Seriously. My wedding pics are just about the only ones where I look like a normal person. (Yes, my wedding dress was silver, just like the pic shows.)

Now, in response to each of your posts in turn:

escapadethroughegypt, I love the photo you display on goodreads. Just FYI.

Rachel, thank you for your undying devotion to my work. I always wondered what it would be like to have a fan and I must say, I LOVE it! And it's not your fault that Deception is taking so long, I assure you.

Gina, oh honey, you already look writerly and respectable! Smoke and mirrors, indeed! Unless...wait, what do you consider writerly/respectable? Thick glasses & a pipe? heehee I think your pics are very indicative of your wonderfully quirky nature. I like your photo and I love the ones of you at signings that you include in your blog posts. :o)

Jeff, my hubby went around all day after reading your post trying to snap pics of me. However, I am quicker than the camera. *evil grin* Nothing he snapped was worthy of even being saved. I am still the queen of the unphotogenic!! HAHAHAHA!!!

Joyce, Your RenFest pics are very charming and you look very happy. I wish I had the guts to even appear in public as an author, let alone let someone take a pic to prove I was there! (Did I ever mention that I hate public places? People terrify me—which is probably why I find the internet such a comfortable place to live...)

Dee (Odie's Mom), you always make me smile!

kgcummings, Very sound advice. Thank you!

Rita, I have a friend who works at a salon and I am thinking I'll probably ask her to make me over so I can do the whole pro-photo thing. She's excellent so I'm sure she can make me look nothing at all like the real me. LOL

carole, the dentist, indeed! I hope doing a photo now will not be as irritating as all that.

Atalanta, you gave me something to think about, that's for sure. Thankfully, my only concern right now is the photo on my author profiles, networking sites, etc. Maybe one day I'll consider the tiny author bio in my books with a pic of me, but for now, sharing my pic online is terrifying enough.

Simon, thank you for your two cents. :o) I think most readers are like you. While they like to see the face behind the words, it doesn't necessarily determine whether or not they enjoy the book or even purchase it, for that matter.

You are all entered in my drawing for Deception, whether you want to be or not. LOL :o)


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