Deb Joanne Just Wants to NOT Scare any Kids

So it’s author photo week here at The Debutante Ball. Yikes. I’m going to put this out there right now: like a lot of folks, I don’t love having my picture taken. I am very rarely pleased with the results and thus try to either duck out of the lens crosshairs or be the one behind the camera. But something funny happens when you sell a book; you are suddenly required to have pictures, because, for some reason, people want to know who you are and what you look like. Weird, right? I know.

It shouldn’t matter, what I look like when you read my book. I mean, I could well look like this:













Or this:











And it really shouldn’t matter, because I’m writing fiction and I’m not even the narrator for my books. But for some reason, people want to know what I, the person behind the words, look like, thus there is a need for author photos. But these take a great deal of thought. And in my case, at least, a lot more thought than is really required, which means this has been a very angsty process for me, thus good fodder for a blog post, so bear with me.

First, one has to think about who is going to do the pictures. Can I get away with doing my own author photo in my bathroom?



I guess. This photo really was taken in my bathroom-the dark background is a towel thrown over my shower rod. For the size of my bathroom and the fact that I took this myself, I guess it turned out okay. It was the only one I had to use when I found out I was going to be a Deb, so it’s the one you see every time to you come here, but it’s not really ideal-I don’t think I would want this on a book cover.






Okay, so then I need to find someone to take the pictures. I’ve got my cousin, Tania and my husband, who both own decent cameras and know how to use them. So-photographer? Check.

But then I need to think about how I want to come across as an author.

Do I write very serious tomes? Do I want to come across like a very literary and thoughtful person:

photo credit: Tania Garshowitz

Nah, that’s not really me. Okay, so how about a glam shot? After all, I am a Debutante!

photo credit: Tania Garshowitz

Uh, not exactly. So how do you find the balance? How do you look friendly and approachable, but not ridiculous? How do you show your tween audience that you’re fun to be around and capable of writing a book they would want to read?

Insert a dog!

photo credit: Deke Snow

Although it’s always a good idea to have a clean head shot.

photo credit: Tania Garshowitz

So which one will you see on the flap of SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE? Beats me. I haven’t seen the full cover art yet, so I’m not even sure there will be an author photo on there. But no matter what, as long as it’s not like this one of Shel Silverstein, I’m okay with it.

Seriously? I still can’t believe they put this mug on the back of books for kids. Yikes.

So I’d love to hear what you think of author photos? Do you love them? Hate them? Skip right by them? Have you ever not bought a book because of one (kind of like how I put down that copy of THE GIVING TREE and ran from the bookstore, fearing terrible nightmares?)?

20 Replies to “Deb Joanne Just Wants to NOT Scare any Kids”

  1. LOL! Ol’ Shel did use a rather frightening author pic, didn’t he?

    And I still think you should go with the tiara & gloves photo. 😉

    (Okay, okay … the others are good, too. Especially the one of you with the dog. In fact, I’m thinking of renting a dog for my new author photo. All authors should have a dog photo.)

    1. Ha! That SS photo is so creepy-I can’t believe the publisher wouldn’t just leave it off. Yikes. And I agree on the dog thing – mine’s available for rental. She works for milk bones and belly rubs.

  2. Oh, this is going to be yet another great week!!

    The dreaded author photo (no one actually looks forward to them, do they?)

    I’m with Linda on having puppies in every author photo. Can we mandate this?

    1. I’m looking forward to the rest of this week, too. And being that most writers are introverts, I can’t imagine too many writers relish the idea of being in these kinds of spotlight pictures.

      Yay-puppies for all!

        1. Thanks, Erika! My shower curtain has palm trees on it, so it was a bit busy for an author photo, but I’m glad the texture of the towel didn’t come out. I used the bathroom so I could see the screen of the camera in my bathroom mirror, otherwise I never would have been able to get myself centered.

  3. Your photos are awesome, Joanne, and none of them will scare even the most faint-hearted child. I stressed about this too – I hate having my picture taken! Author photos are a big catch-22 – the publisher will ask for one, but may or may not use it for the back of the jacket. I totally agree about dogs, though … or cats, rabbits, hedgehogs, whatever. God rest SS’s soul, but a squee-worthy animal would have done wonders for that photo.

    1. Thanks for your nice words about the photos, Gina! And I agree, a hedgehog or a sloth would have done wonders for SS’s image, hell, even a tree beside him would have warmed up that picture some.

  4. You are soooo photogenic! I’m torn between the dog photo and the head shot.

    I, personally, have a really hard time with cameras which is why I hired someone to take the photos AND photoshop them. I ordered that all wrinkles be removed. With the click of the button, they made it happen.

    Readers (or at least this one) love seeing the real author.

    1. Oh Missy, thanks for saying that! And isn’t photoshop a wonderful/scary thing? I watched my cousin remove a blemish from my face before my very eyes and it was tempting to keep going, but I didn’t. Or did I? 😉
      Thanks for popping by – hope you’re feeling better.

  5. PICTURES my least favourite for me (you take after your Mother with this one) yes photoshop does do wonders just ask my photographer (also a cousin her name is Arlene) who photoshoped my new picture for my business cards (now I look 20 again only kidding but I do look better after she did photoshop).
    Okay Debs when I pick up a book to buy, the first thing I do is look for a picture of the author it gives me a sense of the book I am going to read and the person who wrote it. I will buy a book if I like what the jacket has to say but much prefer to see who wrote it. (Yah I know your thinking oh my Joanne’s Mom will not buy my book unless there is a picture, never fear Deb’s I will buy it and want it signed feel better now oh I am so glad).
    Joanne you photograph beautifully all the time (well maybe not for the bathroom one, Mother no likey that one) and I do hope they put your picture on the book because I feel that when you are writing for tweens they need to connect with the writer especially when the title of the book is so so good.
    Just to let you know (in Detriot) yesterday you were the talk of the talk, Jeremy and Aaron and all of the cousins were just bombarding me with questions and cannot wait for SMALL, MEDIUM AT LARGE to arrive.
    Well everyone, do not let your picture get in your way we can all be photoshoped (scary isn’t it) or we can all be ourselves either one makes you all great writers) see you all next week.

    1. Oy, Mother. I mean, thank you so much! And you may be a bit biased about my pictures, but we’ll allow that. I bet I was the talk of yesterday-you were there, so it’s pretty much a given. Thank you, best publicist/Mom ever. (You didn’t give out bracelets, did you? Never mind, I don’t want to know)

  6. Shel Silverstein’s photo always terrified me – from the time when authors just WROTE and we didn’t have to be model/actresses/circus performers too. Now hand me another plate please!

  7. I vote for the last TWO shots…the one with the adorable doggy (kids do love pets) AND the gorgeous head shot. I say include two shots because they are just THAT good. YES, I’m serious!! And to heck with photoshop, I say! You don’t need it Joanne. Honestly, a REAL photo of a woman with curves, freckles and all that natural beauty – well that’s a great role model for all the tween and teen girls who will be reading your book! And frankly a much needed breath of fresh air after so many ‘stuffed shirts’ that I’m pretty tired of seeing anyway.

    1. Well, as you know, the LAST thing I need is a stuffed shirt. 😛
      Thanks for your lovely words, Tammy! And may I say the camera LOVES you-you always look great in your Facebook pictures-just like in real life!

    1. Thanks so much, Maureen. The humour covers up the angst I still feel over this whole photo thing. I’m gearing up for the dreaded author signing candids, but am not sure I’ll ever be prepared for those…

  8. Those are great pictures Joanne. Especially like the last two but you can’t go wrong! I’m not a dog person, but you’re right– it’s amazing how the inclusion of a canine makes a person immediately look more approachable and nice and friendly.

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