Faye will likely do my professional author pics…eventually. Can you just imagine it? Me, in some stuffy suit and pearls? Perhaps I will give the camera that Usher stare—you know the one he does with his eyes kind of crinkly and half-closed, where you’re not quite sure if he’s half asleep or merely debating different ways to eat you.
I think if I were to post a photo on my book jacket, I would want to have one that looks like this:
It’s not quite the Usher stare. Rather, I’m pretty sure this look says, “I-totally-see-your-soul-and-it-looks-rather-tasty-doesn’t-my-book-look-awesome?” Plus, the phone over the face adds that air of mystery I think all authors should have.
If you think you don’t need professional photos, well, maybe you don’t. What do I know? You can ask Jane Friedman* if you’re uncertain. She’ll likely tell you that every author needs professional headshots.
Actually, I’m pretty dang sure that’s what she’d tell you.
I’ll be honest. I’m not sure how I feel about this. I’ve been rather resistant to the whole notion of author branding, and this just seems to take it one step further. Like, look at me, I’ve now been hermitically sealed in a brand with this uber professional photograph of me sitting in a random field of poppies staring off like I’m thinking really hard about my super story.
It’s not that I don’t agree that branding is necessary. I mean, fans and followers need something more concrete to hang on to, an image that they can put to your name, right? Usher, for example, will indelibly be, in my mind, that guy with a lazy, fresh-from-the-bedroom smile and a crinkly-eyed, will-you-go-best-with-pinot-or-merlot stare. This look is something I can remember.
But I bet Usher is more than just a sex god. I wonder if it bothers him that this is how he’s viewed? Maybe he doesn’t imagine every woman naked save for stilettos and a spoon. Perhaps, some days he sheds his sunglasses and puts on a beanie and sweat pants. Maybe he thinks to himself, “I really wish people knew about my stuffed pig collection and my penchant for fish tacos. I’m not only an oysters and champagne and handcuffs kind of guy.”
I suppose his image sells, and in the end that’s what matters.** I just don’t know how to be only one thing. How do you capture in a photo—or in a brand—the everything that you are?
Maybe I’ll just keep taking photos with a phone over my face, so it doesn’t matter who I am. I’ll just be the author with a phone face. Think it’ll sell?
Just don’t look into my eyes. Cuz your soul’s looking mighty tasty.
*********************************Jane Friedman is publisher and editorial director of the Writer’s Digest community at F+W Media in Cincinnati, Ohio
**I feel the need to clarify that I have no idea if Usher actually has a beanie like this one or a stuffed pig collection. If it’s not blatantly obvious to you that the photo of Usher has been altered to suit my purposes, don’t feel bad—perhaps I’m just a crazy good photoshopper (Original photo found here).