Wednesday, January 6, 2010

One Good Investment

As writers know, as soon as you go public with your career, you're besieged by opportunities to part with your money. Some ideas are great. If you have room in your budget, a writers conference that focuses on your interests, has great classes, and gives you a chance to meet other writers, editors and agents, can be a great investment. For less money, membership dues to one or two carefully selected professional organizations can pay you back a hundred times over as long as you stay active. Depending on your marketing strategy and career goals, you can benefit from book trailers, publicists, freelance editors, and many other opportunities.

One area that doesn't seem obvious is how to handle your publicity photo. Christians hate to seem vain so photos can be a source of emotional conflict. However, I believe the effort is a good use of your time and money. Now that social networking, internet sites, and blogs have become integrated with marketing, writers' photos appear in more places than ever. Publishers need good photos of authors for their own web sites and your books. If your book sells 20,000 copies--and chances are quite good that it will sell many more--20,000 readers will see your photo. If you use your photo for five years and publish one book per year, the number increases to 100,000 (although many fans will see your photo five times, granted). Still, neither number factors in books borrowed from friends and libraries. Isn't looking your best on books you write for the Lord a way to honor Him?

Another reason to invest in your photo is that industry professionals will use it as a point of reference to find you at conferences and other events. If people are looking for a twenty-five year old and you are now fifty, everyone is sure to be embarrassed when you finally connect. A good rule of thumb is to have fresh photos taken every five years. I also recommend making any drastic changes to your hairstyle before having new photos taken. If you must get new glasses, go from a ponytail to a shag cut or change your hair color from brown to red after you have photos taken, have new ones made to reflect your fresh look. For the ladies: I recommend applying your own makeup, or learning how to apply new makeup if it's been awhile since you updated your look. This is so you can replicate your picture with reasonable success, and you will look like yourself. I once had pictures taken using the talents of a professional makeup and artist and hairstylist. I looked great but not like myself in the pictures. Because they reflected someone else's idea of how I should look, I didn't use them very much. I do recommend that you invest money with a photographer who will budget enough time and has the flexibility and artistry to pose you creatively for an interesting and flattering result.

Don't wait to have new photos taken. You look better than you think -- better than ever.


Until next time,



Rita Gerlach said...

Good advice, Tamela. A good professionally done photo portrait goes a long way.

Shmologna said...

I'm not published but I sometimes wonder about things like "photos." Good post!

Debbie Fuhry said...

I found this post interesting, as I recently needed a picture to go with a '7 Things I've Learned So Far' guest column on the Guide to Literary Agents blog. I confess, I went with a home shot by my daughter... presumably the one which now appears to the right.

When I get to point of having a book appear in print, I will get a professional portrait, and I appreciate the wise guidelines you offer.

Is that your new portrait? It looks great!

Martha Ramirez said...

Great post. Your new pic is beautiful!

Tamela Hancock Murray said...

It's amazing how complicated having portraits taken can be. And yes, that's my new pic. Glad this post helped.

Carrie Turansky said...

Thanks for this good advice!

Ava Pennington said...

Timely comments and good advice, Tamela.
I have an appointment with a professional photographer next week for updated headshots, but I must confess I'm not looking forward to it.
By the way, will you be replacing your old photo in the "Meet the Hartline Agents" column on this blog page? ;-)

Michelle Sutton said...

Sheesh, my agent looks like a supermodel. How does a lowly author top that? Seriously, you're just too cute. :) Very nice picture.