Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I Know It's a Temptation, But Don't Do It!

Your Headshot and Your Career

When Uriah Carr joined a critique group I founded at the Glendale library a few years ago, I got lucky. (-:

That day I met a talented friend who writes poetry and plays, acts, and is a photographer to boot. Eventually he took most of the shots you see of me in my books and around the Web.

The other day he looked at one of my newer book covers (Frugal and Focused Tweeting for Retailers to be exact!) and said, I think it’s time you updated your photos. I didn’t dare ask him why he thought that. What!? You think I’m crazy?

I just nodded. I’m sure he didn’t see the gulp.

And we had a lot of fun at the photo session with my husband in the background kibitzing about the ham he married.

I figured if we had to put up with my husband’s brand of humor, we’d get him to push the button on the camera and make himself useful. So now I have some pictures of Uriah and me (yes, that is supposed to be “me,” not “I!”) after the shoot. It is one of the 167 he took of me that I now have at my disposal to use in my publicity--everything from book covers to biographies to media kits,well...you get the idea.

So, now is the time to take a good, hard look at the headshot you use for promotion. Is it working for you--or against you?

Now, this brings me to the important part. I’m still seeing lots of photos that aren’t professionally taken being used by lots of my author friends. Some are pretty good. Others not so. And some really awful. As I mention in The Frugal Book Promoter (www.budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo), your head shot is not the time to scrimp. You can also see some of those shots--both the old ones he took and the new--on my work-in-progress Web site at http://www.howtodoitfrugally.com.

Frugal is one thing. Cheap another.

You may not be able to see the difference, but an editor can. It’s in the facial shadows, the resolution, the background lighting, the position of the shoulders. Things most of us aren’t trained in. Most of us—unlike Uriah—are merely writers.

So, look at the photos you’re using for promotion one more time. Critically. If you live in the Southern California area, I’ll be pleased to give you Uriah’s contact information. If not, you’re on your own. One word of caution: Many studio photographers aren’t trained to catch the “writer you.” So, before you choose, look at some of the shots on the book flaps of some of the big publishers. Maybe ask some authors you know who took their photos. Ask the photographer if he or she has worked with authors or models or actors. Ask to see those shots, not just the family portraits.

I mean, if money is going to be spent, let’s be as careful about the research as we are when we hire our editors. Don’t you think?

PS: Do you know Aggie Villaneuva? You should! She can do for your book launch what she's done for my Frugal and Focused Tweeting for Retailers: http://budurl.com/TwitterLaunchSched. If your book has already been launched, don’t let it deter you. I’m calling the launch for Frugal and Focused Tweeting for Retailers (http://budurl.com/Tweeting4Retailers) an online launch (it’s still quite new!). You could call a launch for your book a belated online launch! (-: There are no launch cops! (-:

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal". She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor . If your followers at Twitter would benefit from this blog post, please use the little Green widget to let them know about this blog:

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