By C.R. Bruce @crbrucewrites
An author photo is as much a part of our books as the dedication, acknowledgements, half-title, copyright, etc. Without that photo we’re just faceless word spammer bots. So of course my plan was to either a) Pay a professional photographer to dress me up and pose me by a lake or amongst the falling leaves of Autumn, or b) Repurpose my best selfie from the dregs of my Pictures folder. I confess, option ‘b’ had won. But that changed when I saw this post from Simone Collins (@SimoneHCollins) on Jane Friedman’s site.
My first thought was is this allowed? Aren’t author photos sacred ground must-haves in the category of ‘we accept no substitutes?’ It would appear, no; it’s author’s choice (unless a reader out there can offer an authoritative rebuttal?). Full disclosure, I personally don't know any authors or soon-to-be authors currently using portrait art for their author photos. I’m assuming they’re out there, but if not, I’m fine being one of the first soldiers of the revolution. So why choose portrait art over a photo? Simone offers many good reasons in her linked post, but I’ll let you read them for yourself. Here’s my take on it.
Writing a book, or APEing a book as Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch would say (see their book here), is a monumental achievement. The day you finish your book you'll feel like a king or a queen! Sadly, that feeling won't last long as self-doubt and insecurity creep in, but it will return in spurts. That's what being a writer is, alternating between feeling like the king of the world and a talentless hack, depending on the day. But what if you could capture that kingly or queenly feeling? Back in the days of Marie Antoinette and Napoleon they didn’t have Digital SLR cameras, iPhones, or state-of-the-art photo studios, but even if they did their castle PR people would have told them to go with the portrait. Why? Because a portrait captures your best self, your writing alter ego, a reminder of that confident, kingly person that started writing in the first place. Think of the effect a photo achieves when it’s changed from color to black and white. You can feel that, right? It produces a different emotional reaction. Now take that same visceral response and multiply it 10x for portrait art. Now you’re that super-somebody, a writer worthy of more than a two-second click and a flash of light. And why shouldn’t you be? You wrote a book! That’s an accomplishment worth trumpeting! You might not be Napoleon or Marie Antoinette, but you wouldn’t know it because you have a portrait. That’s the way I feel about my portrait anyway, and I feel that way as a reader too, as a fan. When I see a portrait it carries more weight with me than a photo. A portrait is rarer nowadays, unique. What do you think?
I haven’t yet decided where I’ll place my author portrait in my book. It’ll either be on the back cover, on the inside flap of the back cover, or inside the book in the front or back matter. Thoughts? Either way, I’ll have beaten the author photo blahs and the epic selfie fails. And you should too!
The artist, TheMeeDes, drew my portrait and I would highly recommend her as she is both efficient (quick!) and talented. Her portrait style was my favorite, but there are many different artists and styles to choose from on Simone’s websites: Art for Authors and ArtCorgi. Check it out for yourself.
- C.R. Bruce
C.R. Bruce’s first novel, “Stalled,” is slated for release in January, 2015. You can follow his progress to publication at http://www.crbrucewrites.com
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- C.R. Bruce
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