1. Make yourself an office where nothing else happens but you write (I made a "KEEP OUT" sign that I stick on the inside)
2. Invest in the right equipment - computer, backup drives, Wi-Fi, printer (FAX machine and separate phone line used to be on this list)
3. Make time to write - every day set aside a few ours for nothing else but writing
4. WHEN (not IF) you sell your book, hire a pro to take a great photo of you for the jacket copySo when I sold my first book, I started asking around for a professional photographer. I struck gold with Lynn Wayne. She takes photos of actors and media celebs and she had a studio in a scary warehouse building in what has since become a trendy Boston neighborhood. (I set a scene in one of my books there!)
The first question she asked was what did I want people to think when they looked at my picture, and my answer: This is someone I'd like to have coffee with.
She brought in a professional makeup person who made me look glam but not too glam, and took hundreds (it seemed like) of pictures of me. And what she taught me to do is to feel the "smile" -- so not just my mouth but my whole body feels like it's smiling -- to make a great picture.
Since that first session I've gone back several times.
So who gives you your best shot? And what's your answer to the question: What do you want people to think when they look at your picture?
LUCY BURDETTE: what a good question and good advice! It's a kind of acting--which I have no natural talent for:).
I've had both amateur and professional photos taken. The one on our Jungle Red banner by Ruthanna Terreri is one of my favorites. We took hundreds of photos and it was starting to rain. She knew I wanted one headshot like an advice columnist would run, so she had me lean on the trunk of her car. I think I was too tired to be stiff at that point!
There were plenty of others that didn't turn out well, but this one for my golf mysteries I will always love. A friend was taking the photos out on the golf course--the golf course superintendent was there too. We had so much fun and I think it showed. That's what I wanted people to think--I'm in for a fun ride with this book and this author.
And I love my new Key West photo too. It was taken by Carol Tedesco in the Key West cemetery. I wish I'd been thinking of something:), but she did a good job finally getting me to relax and look friendly.
DEBORAH CROMBIE: Hallie, I love that--"Someone you'd want to have coffee with." Or in my case, tea.
My photos are taken by my friend Steve Ullathorne, who is a professional London photographer who specializes in media celebs and comedians. The one we used on the most recent book jacket was Steve's favorite from that photo shoot--I was very chuffed when he used it in one of his exhibitions.
That photo shoot was done in his studio, but we did one more recently in a recording studio in Crystal Palace and I love those more casual shots. For both those shoots I've had my make-up done by MAC in London, and my hair by Toni & Guy, so I am as glam in those pics as I will ever be.
The only problem is, I need new photos, and Steve is...in London!
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I cannot begin to tell you how much I loathe photo shoots. I worry about them from the moment I hear they are going to happen until the moment they are over. And after, too. As a result, it is really difficult to get a good photo, because I am SO nervous.
I love these old Channel 7 promo pix--I think I had just won something, so I may have been thinking "HA! I am GOOD!" and these are the expressions that ensued. Soon after, because the universe works the way it does, the news director told me he hated my curly hair, and it's been straight ever since. So much for those photos. (Do you see how too-big that jacket is? Whoa.)
I am a big Lynn Wayne fan, too. and you can see the different attitude makes. The tilty smiley one I think is the best photo of me ever, and I will use it til I'm 100. And the other the most confident. I love them both.
What was I thinking? Each time--"I am SO lucky!" What do I want people to think? Hmm. Look at Lee ChIld's and Sandra Brown's photos. Tough. And glam. And smart.
RHYS BOWEN: It's funny, but I was just talking about this topic with my agent. She told me I needed new head shots and I said that new ones couldn't look any better than the old at this stage of my life! But then again I don't want to be one of those authors who use the thirty year old head shot until they turn eighty. And fans come to bookstores, stare at you and say "Is that the same person." I think my photo should represent me, and at this stage ME has a few wrinkles and sags.
Soooo... do I get a new glam headshot or not? Difficult question.
The ones I have used most recently have been amateur shots, taken by my husband and friend Robin Burcell. I like them because they are natural. I want people to look at my picture and think "She looks approachable. I'd like to meet her."
JULIA SPENCER FLEMING: Rhys, I think that's smart. The last thing anyone wants is to look (much) better in the picture than in real life...haven't we all had the experience where you've seen someone's picture, then met him or her in real life, and thought, Who did you think you were kidding, bub? When I was a kid, my mother told me makeup should enhance a woman's features, not obscure them, and in the same vein, you want your picture to reflect the best you, not the Photoshopped you.
That being said, when I got my last head shot back, The Boy told me, "It looks like you, Mom, but without the wrinkles." I can't recall the photographer's name; he was hired by my publisher, who also got in an amazing make-up artist who did a bang up job and taught me a few techniques for the - ahem - older face. However, the license on that has expired and I'm going to need a new picture for the next book.
It's hard for photographers to get a bead on the right image for my books - Hank wears a leather jacket and it looks perfect for "Boston reporter," and Lucy relaxes in front of the ocean or a Key West sign and you know what sort of book you're going to get from her, but what can I do? Put on a clerical collar? Stand in front of an altar? Ugh. Any suggestions are welcome!
HALLIE: Julia, just get a photographer who makes the real you come through! You're gorgeous!
Well, I confess, when I pick up a new book I go RIGHT to the author photo. Do you do that, too? And does what you see influence your opinion of the book? Be honest now...