Warning: Hacks for Hacks tips may have harmful side effects on your writing career, and should not be used by minors, adults, writers, poets, scribes, scriveners, journalists, or anybody.
Here’s the good news. You’ve sold your book! The bad news: Your publisher needs a photo of you for the jacket. Now before you get mad that I’m calling you ugly, rest assured I’m not. All I’m saying is that you’re an incompetent photographer who doesn’t know the difference between focus and an F-stop (or whether that analogy I just made even uses real photo terminology).
I talked briefly about author photos before, but now I’m sharing the primo tips that’ll mean the difference between looking like a successful famous author, or some poseur who ironed some elbow patches onto a thrift-store suit jacket.
[pullquote]Any reputable photographer should be able to guarantee you’ll get some action as a result of this photo.[/pullquote]
What is an Author Photo?
Let’s start with why we’re going through this rigmarole. An author photo is a selling tool designed to let your fans know what you look like so they can properly throw themselves at you when they see you. To do that, you’ll need to…
Hire a Photographer
No, that blurry selfie you use for your Twitter avatar isn’t going to cut it. It’s time to go to a professional. That means someone with AT MINIMUM 500 followers on Instagram. This will not come cheap, but it’ll be the best twenty-bucks-plus-a-case-of-Pabst you’ll ever spend.
[pullquote]It’s time to go to a professional. Look for someone who has AT MINIMUM 1,000 followers on Instagram.[/pullquote]
Any reputable photographer should be able to guarantee you’ll get some action as a result of this photo. Ask them about this specifically.
Set the Mood
The best time to take a photo is during the “magic hour”–the time just before sunset, when the light is redder, softer, and more flattering. Basically, around happy hour. Knock back a couple brewskis in during the shoot to turn yourself from a dour, desperate, struggling writer into a delightfully eccentric raconteur.
What to Bring
Create your own “author photo booth” and bring a variety of writerly props so you’ll have options. Some suggestions to get you started:
- coffee mug
- quill pen
- assortment of pipes, with tobacco
- jacket with elbow patches
- no fewer than three hounds
- Gibson Flying V guitar
- fake Hemingway beard
- working wood fireplace
- Suit and tie fashioned from pages of Finnegans Wake
- Agatha Christie’s Remington Home Portable typewriter, with certificate of authenticity.
When the shutter starts to…I don’t know, shut, I suppose…put on your best face. The key is to smize. I learned this from watching America’s Next Top Model. Smizing means to smile with your eyes. If your mouth is grinning but your eyes look like a dead, soulless void through which you watch your life passing you by, people can tell, so make sure to look at happy things like people high-fiving each other. Your eyes can do lots of facial expressions, including
- Frize is a mashup of frown and eyes. It’s an easy expression to pull off if you concentrate on how much this photoshoot is costing you.
- Winze is wincing with your eyes. Achieve this expression by stabbing yourself in the leg with a pushpin.
- Blize means to blink with your eyes. Just wink both eyes at once.
- Sneepers is sneezing with your peepers–basically, shutting your eyes reflexively so they don’t pop out of your skull.
- Brizebrows is brooding with your eyebrows, I guess.
- Grimince Pies combines grimace with “mince pies,” cockney rhyming slang for eyes. Get this look by listening to Dick Van Dyke’s accent in Mary Poppins.
Ah. That awkward moment when you see the proofs, and it’s apparent that as your fame has grown, so too has your waistline. I recommend calisthenics. Simply open your photo in PhotoShop and streeetch it vertically. Now you’re thinner and taller!
You’re ready to take an amazing author photo. Now your biggest problem is how you’ll have time to write your next book with all those hotties fawning all over you.
Do you have any secrets for getting your good side? Share them in the comments!
Now, thanks to tinyCoffee and PayPal, you can!