Sunday, January 24, 2010

Author Pics and Bios

Self Portrait--George Henry Harlow-1787-1819 Headshots and short bios are useful to have around.

Even if you don’t yet have a book deal, you’ll need a picture and biography for any contests you might win or guest posts you might write.

And these days, it’s a good idea to build an author platform before you’re even published. A platform is simply a professional internet presence—a personal blog or a website, and maybe a Facebook or Twitter page. What needs to go on these web pages? A nice photo of you looking happily professional and a pithy bio to introduce you to any editors or agents who might look you up.


Having my picture made isn’t my favorite thing to do. In fact, my photographer told me in exasperation that the toddler she’d had before me was an easier subject. I’m sure she was right. I had a pained grin in many of the pictures she took.

There are many chain studios that do headshots. You do need to be careful and inquire who holds the rights to the pictures—you want to be able to use your image wherever it needs to go: websites, books, etc.

I used Portrait Innovations which seems to be a fairly good-sized chain. They saw me the same day I called them. They asked me to bring a change of clothing—they’ll take pictures of you in more than one outfit to make it appear that you’ve had more than one sitting (and it’s just a nice change to have different looks for different purposes.)

Unfortunately, I forgot to bring a change of clothes. There are many, many pictures of me in a black dress floating around.

The cost was not prohibitive. I purchased a CD full of different pictures (although I usually use the same one over and over) for about $100. You could get it much less than that if you just purchased two or three pictures.

If you are getting a headshot for your author picture for a publisher, you’ll want to make sure that you follow their art department’s specifications. Most don’t want a full length shot (although studios like taking them)—they only want the shoulders up. And they like you looking right at the camera and not a side shot. They’re also not fond of pictures where you’re resting your head on your hands. So you might want to check in with your publisher before you get your picture made.

Author bios are another useful thing. You’ll need one even for some queries and cover letters (check the agent/publisher guidelines to see if they want it included.)

Bios are written in the third person.

Bios are really short…usually four or five sentences, max. Two or three would probably be better. The important thing is to list your qualifications for writing your novel, poem, or flash fiction piece.

Author bios usually mention the writer’s college degree, writing organizations they’re members of, and any publishing credits, like articles they’ve written or contests they’ve won.

Even if you don’t have any professional credits, you can still state something like “Jane Doe is a paranormal romance writer living in Arkansas. She is a member of the SFWA and RWA and is currently working on a …..”

Because Jane Doe is a writer. She’s just not published yet.

Once you have your headshot and bio, it’s a great idea to post them on your website, especially if you’ve got a book coming out. That way, a news organization can just download a copy of the picture and take the bio off your page.

As a reminder, I'm opening up Fridays, starting this Friday (Jan. 29) for guest posts on the writing process. In addition, the blog is available for promo spots for authors with upcoming and new releases. For more information, please check the post: . I’m booked every Friday until April—so you’ll have plenty of time to come up with a post if you’re interested. :)

Terry Odell will be kicking us off this Friday with her post, titled “Plotting? Moi?”