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View Full Version : Author photo - editor threw a curveball - I need help!



Prevostprincess
02-06-2008, 11:34 PM
For my author photo, I assumed we'd use one I had professionally taken. You can see the choices amongst four head shots here (http://www.doreenorion.com/orion-media.htm), if you like.
But, my editor tells me she would prefer to use the one I now have as my avitar, although the decision is up to me.

My question is: I've always heard that author photos should be just the author, that it's too cutesy and "unprofessional" (although granted, this is not a "how to" book by me, a shrink, it's a humorous travel memoir) to have kids, pets, whatever in them.

Bottom line: Would the picture of me and our (granted, adorable) dog (which was taken during the trip the memoir covers - on Sitka, AK - if anyone's curious) be a turn off for potential book buyers? I'm looking through all my books and can't find any nontraditional author photos, even amongst genres similar to my own. (Although we're on the bus for the winter, so I don't have my usual hoards of books with me.) Any opinions would be greatly appreciated. (And, if anyone has an example handy of a nontraditional author photo that works, please let me know. I can run over to B+N and check it out.)

KTC
02-06-2008, 11:36 PM
I would be happier with the one in your avatar. I prefer that type to head shots. They're more personable. It's a great photo.

IceCreamEmpress
02-07-2008, 12:15 AM
I think that because your book is about traveling with your pets, the shot of you in Alaska with your dog is extremely appropriate.

It would be a real plus for me, as opposed to the usual headshot.


You look very pretty and animated in your headshots, but they could just as easily go with a cookbook or a novel or a self-help book. The photo in your av conveys the spirit of your book as I understand it.

paprikapink
02-07-2008, 12:20 AM
Editor turned out to be right about the title, yes? I'll bet they know what they're doing with author pix too.

Prevostprincess
02-07-2008, 12:35 AM
Good points. As paprikapink points out, it takes me a while to come around when I get an idea stuck in my head! (It took my husband a few years to convince me about the whole "bus thing," after all.) I think before a final decision, I will spend some time in the B+N here, looking at the travel memoir/humor sections for author photos. (Decision's not due until Monday.) Thank you all for giving your thoughtful opinions. I'm going to mull some more.

Funny, my husband took that photo and he's not much of a photographer, but it's my favorite of me - ever. The reason I look so happy is because I'd just whined enough about the death march - er, hike - he was taking us on, that he'd agreed to turn around. To "reward" him, I said I'd even do another hike the next day. He replied, "Really? I won't." We were both laughing as that shot was taken. That incident is in the book, so another plus for the photo...

KTC
02-07-2008, 01:50 AM
Yes...it is so appropriate to the book, isn't it, Paprika.

Lauri B
02-07-2008, 03:05 AM
also, a lot of authors are moving to more active author photos now, especially if the shot is reflective of the book. I think this is a great photo of you and completely appropriate. It's great!

JennaGlatzer
02-07-2008, 03:21 AM
I agree. Great photo.

Elaine Margarett
02-07-2008, 03:23 AM
FWIW, I'm a photographer and I agree with everyone else. I much prefer natural to artificial portraits.

And tell your husband; it's a great shot! I Love the perspective behind you. It tells a story in and of itself.

EM

HeronW
02-07-2008, 03:42 AM
You're smiling, the dog is smiling, it goes with the book--your editor has great taste!

Pat~
02-07-2008, 03:45 AM
It's unanimous--I like the avatar photo, especially because it goes with the book!

ColoradoGuy
02-07-2008, 03:47 AM
Definitely do what your publisher and editor want--they're the folks who know how to market your book, and people do look at author photos when they browse.

Prevostprincess
02-07-2008, 04:31 AM
You are all fabulous for taking the time to give your opinions and assistance!

Although I'm quite the muller, I shall mull no more. Me and Miles, it is!

(Elaine's comment notwithstanding, I do fear the effect this will have on my husband - ie an insistance on hogging the camera and a resulting plethora of blurry photos as we continue our travels, as he can now claim being a published photographer. I'll just have to deal.)

KTC
02-07-2008, 04:32 AM
He will definitely have his name in the credits...as well as the dedication. (-;


The book, by the way, sounds exactly like the kind of thing I would pick up. I love to travel...I love funny...and I LOVE animals.

All the best.

DWSTXS
02-07-2008, 04:35 AM
I agree with the avatar pic.........besides, you can never go wrong with the puppy or kitty.........

KTC
02-07-2008, 04:37 AM
I agree with the avatar pic.........besides, you can never go wrong with the puppy or kitty.........


Yes. Instant endearing quality.

Susan B
02-07-2008, 05:01 AM
I too like the avatar photo!

Some interesting parallels to my own author photo (you can see it in the author site-to-be below.) I am a psychologist, wrote a memoir about a journey of a different kind (into Cajun/Creole music) and my photo shows me with accordion, a shot taken by my 23 year old son. It was taken initially at the request of my agent (who rejected an earlier unsmiling shot) and when I offered it to my publisher when they asked for an author photo, they liked it.

I think maybe there is a trend here! I always prefer looking at informal, natural shots. (Though your posed shots are very nice and natural, too!)

Susan (maybe I need to start using my real name: Blair)

IceCreamEmpress
02-07-2008, 05:08 AM
...my photo shows me with accordion, a shot taken by my 23 year old son.

Also adorable!

I feel left out now because I wrote a novel that's all sad and I don't want an author "action shot" of :( It's going to be the boring old "pensive smile in front of a tree" or whatever for me.

Prevostprincess
02-07-2008, 05:24 AM
"...you can never go wrong with the puppy or kitty..."
(Except when they're cuter than the author. Oh, well. I'll deal.)

Susan (Blair) - I was thinking of you when I started this thread, wondering if your author photo would have you with your accordion. So glad you weighed in - it's great!

Thanks KTC - there's a contest on my blog right now for a free copy (and some bonus plastic moose poop)...

IceCreamEmpress and anyone else who is interested: Someone just sent me this (http://www.dansimmons.com/writing_welll/writing.htm)hilarious article on author photos by Dan Simmons - maybe it will give you some ideas. (I'd do the nude if I thought it would sell books, but I fear quite the opposite - can't have people barfing in the aisles in B+N.)

johnrobison
02-07-2008, 07:14 AM
I like the photo with the dog but I'd crop it a bit to get rid of the lake on the right. And I'd keep the bottom center closeup photo handy because there will be uses for that tighter shot.

I think you and the dog is nice but there may well be media who want just you. If you are lucky and get lots of media, some will want unique images. To prepare, I'd suggest shooting more environmental shots and having them ready so you can offer them on an exclusive basis as needed.

SHBueche
02-07-2008, 08:07 PM
I am a bit late here, but have to add that I like the photo also. John has a good point about cropping, although the lake is nice. Funny that someone mentioned the editor's idea about the title, I noticed the title in another discussion and thought it was a winner. Excuse me, I think I'll head over to your site to enter the contest (was it something about a free book and plastic poop?!).

paprikapink
02-07-2008, 08:42 PM
Isn't there some way to put this video of your visit to the nudist camp (http://www.QueenOfTheRoadTheBook.com/orion-video-rv.htm) on the book cover? That's how ya sell books! :D

Elaine Margarett
02-07-2008, 09:38 PM
I am a bit late here, but have to add that I like the photo also. John has a good point about cropping, although the lake is nice. .


But that's what I like about the photo! It makes it look like you're on a high adventure. If it were cropped out it would be you and the dog, which, no offense, would be a bit boring as it's a common pose that doesn't really say much.

Smiles,
EM

Prevostprincess
02-07-2008, 10:45 PM
I hadn't even thought to ask the publisher if they'll be cropping that photo, but I imagine they will have to, to some extent. Good pick up! I'd better find out what they'll do.

As for the photo of us in the nudist RV park... I think it's enough we made a video about the experience and put it up on the website for all (except my tech-impaired mother) to see. I'll probably skip putting that particular picture on the book.

And, yes! Do stop by the monthly writing contest (http://www.doreenorion.com/orion-contest.htm)for a free, signed book and a poopin' moose. This month's topic (announced every month on the 1st) : what would YOU do if you could take a year off? I'll be posting the winning entries on the blog, as well.

Susan B
02-11-2008, 03:22 AM
Also adorable!

I feel left out now because I wrote a novel that's all sad and I don't want an author "action shot" of :( It's going to be the boring old "pensive smile in front of a tree" or whatever for me.

Thank you :-)

Nothing wrong with a pensive shot--that can be pretty classy!
(Unless it's pensive with an accordion...I guess that's just dumb, which is why my agent asked for another one!)

Susan B
02-11-2008, 03:32 AM
"...you can never go wrong with the puppy or kitty..."
(Except when they're cuter than the author. Oh, well. I'll deal.)

Susan (Blair) - I was thinking of you when I started this thread, wondering if your author photo would have you with your accordion. So glad you weighed in - it's great!

Thanks KTC - there's a contest on my blog right now for a free copy (and some bonus plastic moose poop)...

IceCreamEmpress and anyone else who is interested: Someone just sent me this (http://www.dansimmons.com/writing_welll/writing.htm)hilarious article on author photos by Dan Simmons - maybe it will give you some ideas. (I'd do the nude if I thought it would sell books, but I fear quite the opposite - can't have people barfing in the aisles in B+N.)

Thanks--glad you liked the photo!

Your video about the nudist colony is hilarious--and your charm really comes through! Don't think I could try that angle. Aside from the age factor, accordions are too risky unclothed. (Or even in a nightgown, which I tried once and never again!) Too easy to catch stray body parts in the bellows.

Libbie
02-12-2008, 04:20 AM
For a travel memoir, I think the one of you with your dog is perfect! Definitely something more sophisticated for any other nonfiction subject, yes, but a humorous memoir...I think I'd connect more with the author's picture on such a book's jacket if it was a little non-serious.