The dreaded author photo, or Hey, that wasn’t so bad

I think it’s fair to say that writers, in general, dislike the need for publicity shots. And yet that need is undeniable — and not only for published novelists. Magazines and anthologies often ask for photos to accompany bios. So do blogs and newspapers when they interview you. Sometimes even convention programs want them.

It is just one of those things we have to do.

There are some very useful posts out there about how to prepare, how to pose, and what makes for a good photo. Here is Theodora Goss on the fact that authors need photos and on how to take a good one. Here is Emma Newman on overcoming the fear.

I’ve been putting the task off, using informal snapshots and hoping for the best. Frankly, one consequence of having worked for a newspaper for 11 years is that I’m a bit sick of the sight of my own mug. (This is one reason my Twitter avatar is not my own face. I am just Sick. Of. Looking. At. It.) I’ve put on some weight over the last couple of years and kept thinking, oh, I’ll go once I’m a little thinner again. But the thing is, that could take a while. Life is pretty wild at the moment. And hey, if my appearance changes significantly, I’ll get new photos. In the meantime, as Mary Robinette Kowal points out in an excellent post, one purpose of a photo is so people who are looking for you at, say, conventions or author readings, know what you actually look like. A revolutionary idea.

I went at lunchtime today to a photographer I’ve known for years, and whose work I have long admired. John W. MacDonald did a fabulous job and really managed to capture a few shots that I feel look like me, which is always the trick. It’s one thing to acknowledge, hey, I’m older and jowlier than I once was. But a good photo can capture the personality and the things about yourself that you like best.

Here’s one of the results:

Photo by John W. MacDonald
Photo by John W. MacDonald

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