Writing craft is the core of an author’s skill set. And yet, once published, an author has so many other things to juggle. There’s all the mechanics of revisions and edits, the need to promote and market, and manage social media. Heck, getting out there and meeting readers, new and established, is high on the list too.
When I’m doing any sort of guest post or interview, planning to attend a con or otherwise get out there, I want to help my readers find me. That means they probably want to know what I look like. Names on badges helps for cons, but at a book signing event or similar situation, a reader might not know they’ve bumped into me at all.
Thus, the author photo.
In fact, I’m preparing for a photoshoot with the talented and awesome J.R. Blackwell tomorrow. She’s a great photographer as well as a fellow author, so she knows what I need when it comes to photos for an author media kit. And after having discussed with her about our plans for the shoot, I thought it might be handy to share some of the considerations I keep in mind when preparing for one of these.
- Professional polish is key. Go with a professional photographer if at all possible. Shop around, get recommendations and find a photographer who understands your needs and how much writers (don’t always) make. It’s okay to interview before you make a choice.
- Prepare weeks in advance by being healthy. No drop diets, no stressful beauty makeovers. Just drink lots of water, maybe start eating a bit healthier leading up to the shoot and get plenty of rest. No amount of makeup can take the place of a healthy you.
- Try on all your outfits a week in advance. Try everything on to be sure it fits exactly the way you want it to and if it doesn’t, you have time to rectify the situation.
- Plan to wear make up. Even if you don’t usually wear make up, realize that a camera lens does not see the same detail as the human eye and a camera flash can wash out your face. That said, don’t over do it – minimal, natural make up is best.
- Stop off at your hair dresser the week before and get a fresh trim. Your hair should look healthy and fall nicely – and if you feel good about your hair, you’re likely to be more relaxed in your pictures.
- Do your nails. A nice, clean French manicure goes with every outfit and will look super nice if your hands end up in the photo.
PJ Tips for the Big Day:
- Relax. If you’re nervous, let the photographer know and they should be able to help you. Otherwise, look around you, deep breaths, think happy thoughts.
- It’s okay to smile. No fake smiles though. Real you smiles. Be you. If you isn’t happy shiny smiley, then it’s also okay not to smile.
- Keep your hands Down. Don’t touch your face at all. Hands distract from your face and it’s too easy to cover without realizing how much of your face you’re hiding. If you want to rest your chin on your hands, don’t actually rest it – hover so it looks like it without squishing your chin.
- Posture is key. Every couple of pics, roll your shoulders and sit up straight. Lift your rib cage and suck your belly in just a bit. It will make you hold your head higher, lengthen your neck and get the kinks out.
And a note here: your photos should look like you so your readers can recognize you. But they should also reflect your author brand. I write romance. Some of it is sweet, some has an edgier sci-fi or paranormal theme to it. All of it is saucy. I also write steampunk, which has a completely different clothing aesthetic and wow but wait till you see the photos we’ll have for that. I have photos for each of these depending on the con, event or blog it will be posted for.
- I make funny faces in between poses. I squish up my face or puff out my cheeks and I cross my eyes. Anything to make the stiff, ahmahgawd I’ve been smiling till I ache feeling go away.
- I’m really clumsy. Sometimes I pose and immediately fall off whatever I was sitting or standing on.
- The PJ mommy asked me to model in high school for fear I was becoming too much of a tomboy with all the sports. Thus, I have a modeling background to draw from when I take my author media photos. It didn’t come naturally for me, folks.