Monday, January 5, 2015

Does Outstanding Cute Count?

If you're like me, you've struggled over the right headshot for your blog or your novel. You may have excluded a picture altogether or chosen instead a symbol that best illustrates who you are as an author.

We all struggle with this issue, an issue seldom spoken of. 

For a long time, although my hair is white, I opted for a younger face staring back at me on my profiles.

You're probably thinking: Easy for you, Joylene, but I'm not photogenic.

Trust me, I’m not either.

The publisher chose not to have my headshot on the back of my second novel, Broken But Not Dead in 2011. I never asked why.

Before Dead Witness was published in 2008, I almost had them use my initials instead of my name for the same reason I used Photoshop on my photo. My books have dark themes about war, child abuse, and the complexities of the parent/child relationship. I wanted the face on the back cover to reflect the seriousness of my subject matter.

My point?

One day I asked myself: When was the last time you judged a book by the author’s photo?

By all means, clean up. Put on your best duds. Use PhotoShop if you must. Your novel will be around for a very long time. Look your best. But know that readers, the intelligent beings that they are, could care less if your hair’s grey or you’ve got red botches around your nose or chin; or whether there’s a huge ZIT on your forehead. Okay, depends on how large the zit is. But honestly, in the end it’s about the story.

To have a headshot or not to have a headshot?

Doesn’t matter. I promise if you want to write and publish good fiction, you start by loving yourself. Start with that, and everything else will work out just fine. Maybe even outstanding.




31 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

No headshot for me. My publisher asked if I wanted one and I said no. And I'll stick with that.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

And that's okay because you love yourself, right. It all starts with self-love and goes out from there.

Christine Rains said...

Seeing an author's picture doesn't affect how I feel about the story. I don't put my own picture in my self-published works, and my latest release with a publisher has no headshot.

Pat Hatt said...

I just don't bother putting any on the book. Not that i care, it's just as you say no one really cares so why bother when I don't need to.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I don't think anyone judges a book by the author's headshot, which is what this post is about. Although, I do like putting a face to the voice, I don't need to see the author's photo. I'm just surprised by how many authors feel the way they look lessens the value of what they do.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

That's the attitude, Pat.

Chrys Fey said...

If you want to use one, author photos shouldn't be taken lightly. It's important to look clean and neat, and to also convey the type of books you write, if that's possible. My small press doesn't include headshots with our eBooks or print books, but I do have one for my blog/social media. For social media, I think readers like to see the author, know they are a real person. For books, I don't think many care to even look. I don't even look at the headshots in books.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I'm so glad my publishers don't put head shots on book covers. But you're so right readers not caring what those author pictures look like.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Chrys is right that an author photo should look good and represent you and your genre. I had a fellow pro photographer take mine.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I like that I'm able to see a person's spirit and character through their photo. You're right, Chrys, it makes them real. I have so many friends online that I care deeply about, yet I've never seen them in person. It's their kind and generous spirit I sense when I look at their photo.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I'm glad you're glad, Susan. Seriously, whatever makes you most comfortable.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I had a reader once tell me that I looked much friendlier in person. That was when I started smiling for the photos.

Anne R. Allen said...

Chrys--I agree that author photos need to be taken seriously. Even if you don't have one on your books, they're important for your author page and website. Nobody cares if you look cute or young. They want professional and real. The biggest mistake I see with authors on social media is photos that show too much skin. If you use a photo taken in your bathing suit, everybody will assume your blog or website is a porn site.

T. Drecker said...

I usually fly over author photos in books without much notice, but I was surprised to learn that my teen daughter knows exactly what her favorite authors look like. Perhaps that just goes with that age group???

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I hope so. Although, I know what my favourite authors look like too. I would hate to have them pass me on the street and me not know who they are.

Lisa said...

I agree with you, but still want a good photo on my cover, because like you said, it will be around awhile. Also, I do look at others and I too, want to make a good, positive impression. I'm not stressing over it, but I want to like the photo I see staring back on all those books! Happy New year!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

The good part is the older we get, the more we're going to love that photo! Thanks, Lisa.

J.L. Campbell said...

The photo used on my print books is one that was taken at a studio. I use the same photo for social media.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

A studio is definitely answer for authors. They bring out one's best features. Thanks, Joy.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Joylene .. another must for me - I do not like having my photo taken - but must do something about it and get some shots taken that I can use .. 'frot' ones don't help ... cheers to you... HiIary

Fundy Blue said...

Fun post, Joylene! I always check out the author's info in a book, and I enjoy seeing their photos (but it doesn't bother me, if there isn't one). I read the dedications and the acknowledgments too. I'm always curious about the authors and their processes when writing a book. I haven't had to worry about a photo for a book yet; but one day soon, I hope to have that problem!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Cheers to you, too, Hilary.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Yes, it's one of those wonderful problems we authors have to deal with. Thanks, FB.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Getting a professional snapshot is a plus for sure. Thanks, Anne.

Michelle Wallace said...

Okay Joylene, I'm feeling guilty about my absent photo...
I suppose there will be a photo when I eventually publish "the book"! And I'll make sure to get a professional shot taken.
So the hot air balloon will have to suffice... for now. But it has a purpose, you know? It portrays me, in-transit, on this never-ending journey...

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Haha, Michelle, a hot balloon is fine. Just means you're too hot for a photo shoot. "On this never-ending journey"... I like that.

Nicki Elson said...

You''e so right that this is an issue that's hardly ever talked about. Last time I had author photos taken, the photographer asked what kind of look I wanted. I told her, "I just want to look pretty." Her response was "Don't worry. I'll Photoshop it." Didn't she know she was supposed to say,"You are pretty!"?

G. B. Miller said...

I've only had one pic for a story and that was 5 1/2 years ago. Since then, no headshots (or anything else for that matter).

Father Nature's Corner

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Oy vey, that must have stung a bit. I'm not so sure photoshop is a good thing. I saw that article online about the models and what photoshop removed. Seemed so stupid when all those imperfects are beautiful and only serve to make us look human.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Enjoyed your post on your blog, GB. I think you can use or not use a headshot. Happy New Year.

Toinette Thomas said...

My picture is all over the web, I don't think it needs to be on my book too. WItht that being said, I atctually take really good picture. I'm no supermodel by far, but I take a good pic. I think the cover art should be the focus of the cover and the story and writing the focus of the interior. If the reader is pleased, then they'll look me up and find my face everywhere. Good piece.