Author’s photo: Awkward but necessary

They warned me about this. I’ve heard the mantra repeatedly: Marketing your book is as much work as writing it. Gulp. They said it’s a full-time job, but not the 9-5, M-F type. Oh, great. They said it’s a foreign experience to writers, usually introverts, who shiver at the thought of putting themselves “out there.” Ya think? They said if you don’t know sales: LEARN. Heavy sigh.

Who are “they” making all these declarations? Authors who are neck-deep in marketing and have learned the cold hard truth, that’s who. I actually have a wee bit of experience in the overwhelming world of marketing: I worked in the industry for a few years. But marketing my novel is a lot different than pitching higher education or parks and rec. And the big difference, at least for me, is my photo.

Last fall, a good friend and professional photographer put me in front of a sophisticated digital camera at local park. I felt awkward (OK, stupid) being the focus of the camera lens in such a public space. I wasn’t a high school senior, gorgeous bride, or dressed for the prom. It wasn’t a family Christmas photo with adorable kids. My picture was for the back cover of the book, and marketing online and in print.

Now my photo (which turned out pretty good thanks to photog Brian Tanning and make-up tips from my cousin Denise Studer) is spreading across the internet. On one hand, good. It’s all part of the marketing dance—my brand. But on the other hand, ug. I’ve been featured in several blogs in recent weeks and I’m getting tired of seeing me smiling at me from the monitor. And the photo is usually so big! Why can’t it be the size of the thumbnail in the high school yearbook? Why can’t it be at the bottom of the blog?low-res-author-photo

But it could be so much worse: The photo isn’t a selfie, from my driver’s license, or a mug shot.

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