DON'T SHOOT THE AUTHOR.... SHERRY ASHWORTH
Should it matter what I look like? I’m a writer, and what I do is make up stories with characters in them. My books should speak for themselves. My physical appearance should be immaterial.
And yet. Over and over again I am asked for photographs of me. It might be publicity shots for events I’m involved in, local newspapers and of course there’s also the online world – it just does not look right to have a Twitter or Facebook profile without a photo. Don’t you just hate those blank-egg shapes that Twitter bestows on those of us too shy or private to post up a mugshot? Though I’ve chosen not to have my photo along with the cover of my e-book, Good Recipes and Bad Women, it’s there on my Amazon page.
So. What makes a good author shot? Ought one to look young and sexy? Surely not, as these qualities – as desirable as they are – don’t necessarily make a good author.
The interesting truth about authors is that they look just like you and me ;). Before I became a writer myself, I always used to suffer massive anticlimax when I met a favourite author because – oh my God – they looked like PEOPLE! Someone you could bump into at the supermarket! That heavy thump you just heard is an idol crashing to the ground.
Yet our image is marketable, it would seem. Publishers spend a lot of money getting the right author shot. So we e-book writers also need to put some thought into it. Publishers tend to favour the head propped on hand look, as if our thoughts are too weighty for a mere mortal.
Glasses are a very good idea – too many hours spent intelligently poring over manuscripts and books leads to poor eyesight – authors with glasses are for real!
A somewhat dreamy expression works well too. Or just pick one where you look really young.
Never choose a cheesy grin – or work with animals.
Is it worth dressing up? Yes – but choose the clothes carefully.
I know a lot of authors keep changing their author pictures. I do this a little because I am addicted to new haircuts and feel obliged to keep my readers up to date.
Having said that, I have been guilty of over-using the odd photo which I felt flattered me.
I guess readers do like to know what you look like, and I have certainly sought out images of authors who have interested me.
So yes – it probably is worth taking some care over this. Not too much care. If you regularly update your author shot, your readers just might be spending their time keeping up with you rather than your books.
Remember – your face is your fortune!