SECRETS OF THE AUTHOR PHOTO

Think you’re a writer, do you?

 

Okay, hotshot. Three quick questions:

1) When I say the word “headshot” do you think only of US Marine and expert marksman Tom Beckett, as played by Tom Berenger in the movies Sniper, Sniper 2 and Sniper 3 (and, to a lesser extent Chad Michael Collins as Beckett’s son Brandon in Sniper: Reloaded)?

2) Do you believe the contents of a novel is the only thing that sells a book to a prospective reader?

3) Do you not own a single jacket with leather patches on the elbows?

If you are a writer who answered YES to any of these questions, then boy, I am glad you decided to keep reading and not go and rent all four movies in the Sniper series. The most common mistake any first time author can make is to underestimate the power of The Author Photo (TAP). Before even thinking about outlining your novel (even if the outline begins “He’s the best sharpshooter the army’s got…”) you need to get that author photo right. I’ve seen too many book sales lost to poorly composed, underdone or just plain bad headshots. It’s time you got educated.

Here are the most effective types of TAPs (The Author Photo[s]), as used by some of the world’s most successful writers, as well as the secrets behind how to achieve them:

1. THE WHAT HAVE I JUST EATEN?

Consume a packet of expired convenience store hotdogs 20 minutes before the camera rolls, and let the churning mystery in your stomach express itself through your eyes.
Consume a packet of expired convenience store hotdogs 20 minutes before the camera rolls, and let the churning mystery in your stomach express itself through your eyes.

 

2. THE BAD BOY’S CONSCIENCE

Douse your hair in seawater and run into an old lady's front garden, stomping any nice looking flowers. As you are avoiding her disappointed gaze, let the camera capture you.
Douse your hair in seawater and run into an old lady’s front garden, stomping her freshly-planted nasturtiums. As you avoid her disappointed gaze, let the camera capture you.

 

3. THE TRANSITION

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Are you wearing sunglasses? Are you on a boat? Is the photographer halfway through falling over? Uncertainty + intrigue = book sales.

 

4. THE SHAPESHIFTER

Show your readership you can go the extra mile, using just a little boot polish, a bottle of talc and a character from a Public Domain children's classic.
Show your readership you’re willing to go the extra mile, just by using boot polish, a bottle of talc and a character from a Public Domain children’s classic.

 

5. THE ICE COOL

Never underestimate the unique look achieved by locking yourself in an industrial freezer for a week prior to your photoshoot.
Never underestimate the unique look you can achieve just by locking yourself in an industrial freezer for a week prior to your photoshoot.

 

6. THE OVER THE SHOULDER OLDER FOLDER

Nothing says narrative gravitas like the confidence of a middle-aged connoisseur of jacket origami.
Nothing says narrative gravitas like the confidence of a middle-aged exponent of jacket origami. Youtube tutorials are easily available.

 

7. THE STRADDLER

LeeChild_490
Do you think people respect writers who sit on a chair in the normal, comfortable way? Think again, homeslice.

 

8. THE SYMBOL MAKER

Readers are interested in more than just your face. They also want to know what your mirrors are like and how you would hold a stone gargoyle, if given the chance.
Remember: readers are interested in more than just your face. They also want to know what your mirrors look like and how you would hold a stone gargoyle if given the chance.

 

9. THE EVERYTHING

Only for advanced experts. The uncomfortable lean, the turtleneck, the sports jacket AND a copy of one of your books all in the one photo.
Only for authorised experts. The uncomfortable lean, the turtleneck, the sports jacket AND a copy of one of your books, all in one photo. Do not attempt unless you have undertaken at least eight days’ training.

 

10. THE ZADIE SMITH

Seriously, it's impossible.
WARNING: DO NOT ATTEMPT UNLESS ACTUALLY ZADIE SMITH.

 

There you have it. Follow these simple TAP examples, and publishers will be scrambling to sign you up, even if you can’t write at all!

There's that trademark lean!
Lean your way to a bestseller!

 

*This post was sponsored by Sniper 5: Back in the Habit, screening soon behind selected motel TV menu screens.

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