[Before we start, have you followed 10 new people yet?]
Smile for your close up!
Day Seven of the 31 Day Author Platform Challenge is upon us. We’ve looked at our home page and bio.
Today you take–or schedule–a new headshot
I bet most of you are clenching. Relax. You look better than you think you do. And today’s filters will ensure it! Today we’ll review your current headshot, look at expert headshot tips specific to authors, and start clicking. (You are allowed to tell no one you are doing this and lock yourself in a room for 30 minutes.)
If your posted headshot is more than 10 years old like mine, no matter how good it is, it’s time for a change. You can keep and still post that pic, but today is the day you’re going to add a new one that will be your MAIN headshot.
My first question to you how recent is the headshot you have on your website and/or the ones you use for social media platforms?
Since I’m not a photographer, I feel it’s best to let some experts give you advice. Some links are below.
Common advice across the board is:
- Be yourself! Let your “youness” shine through. Readers want to know YOU, not a fake version—and they can tell! Your audience needs to know they can trust you.
- Don’t wear any busy patterns, or excess make-up or jewelry, as they detract from your sweet face, which is what people want to see.
- Lighting is more important than you think! (It’s really the shadows that can be unflattering).
- I have a personal aversion to the stoic arm-crossed and other-hand-on-the-face pose. It’s unnatural. No one walks around like that. I beg you to keep your hands at your side, or hold a book, pen, etc. Unless it’s candid or silly, please don’t be touching your face.
- Hairstyles change so fast that a hip cut today can quickly date your pic even before your book comes out. Try to avoid anything overly trendy.
Hire a professional?
Most assume a professional headshot should be taken by, well, a pro. But increasingly, odds are you don’t need to hire a pro; cell phones today do an amazing job and even have good editing tools and filters. But a pro will make you look AMAZING and could be worth every penny. Make sure you get a reliable referral, you get a certain number of chances to get a pose you like, that you own the rights, and do the courtesy of crediting them whenever the photo is used.
I once had a photographer who came recommended and showed up with backgrounds and cool equipment. She said top images would come edited, but at the end of the shoot all she gave me was a file with all the raw shots; none of them were edited, and they were all crap. I didn’t know until I got home and opened the file; no calls were returned from then on. So…make sure there is a clause for what happens when you’re unhappy with the final image(s). Pay a deposit but never the full amount until you have pix in hand.
Here are some links to more expert tips for author headshots:
- Penguin Random House has suggestions to research what other authors in your genre have done.
- Scribe Media offers examples of good and bad headshots.
- Site Arcade has even more examples as well as a discussion on backgrounds.
- Pinterest shows an array of kidlit author examples.
- Splento.com discusses different kinds of shots used for different purposes.
- City Headshots specifically talks to actors but does a great job explaining bad headshots and how to do better.
I suggest you spend part of today trying it out on your own. Modern cell phones take amazing photos. Have a kid, neighbor, or friend help. Consider asking for their help on editing as others will see things you don’t.
If you still aren’t thrilled with the results, try again with different outfit, location, lighting, props, etc.
If after a third time it’s still not working, book an appointment with a professional. I bet your local SCBWI chapter will have some contacts or suggestions for you.
If after reading this you honestly feel YOU DON’T NEED A NEW HEADSHOT then your task today is to clean up another website page, the way we cleaned up your home page on Day 5 (go back and look if you need a refresher).
IF YOU DON’T HAVE A WEBSITE AND YOUR HEADSHOT DOESN’T NEED RETAKING, create a cross-platform post that includes your headshot, describing the time you had it made. What was going thru your mind, who was there, what you’d change, etc. Ask other people to share their experiences. Use this as an opp to open up and engage!
Recap: If your headshot is older than 5 years, or if it looks dated or unprofessional, redo it. Today. If you don’t need a headshot, use yours as a conversation starter for a social media post.
Smile for that camera, now!