Thursday, June 14, 2012

Why Author Photos Don't Have to Suck by Lauren Clark

You all are in for a treat!  My friend, the fabulous Lauren Clark, has stopped by Princess With a Pen today to chat about the dreaded head shot.  Lauren is the author of Stay Tuned and Dancing Naked in Dixie. She writes contemporary novels set in the Deep South; stories sprinkled with sunshine, suspense, and secrets.

A former TV news anchor, Lauren adores flavored coffee, local bookstores, and anywhere she can stick her toes in the sand. Her big loves are her family, paying it forward, and true-blue friends. Check out her website at

Why Author Photos Don't Have to Suck!

Let's face it, no one over the age of twelve (maybe even eleven) really loves getting his or her photo taken, unless, of course, you are Brooklyn Decker posing for Sports Illustrated in a string bikini and being paid a gazillion dollars.

Since SI isn't likely to bust down my door for a photo-op anytime soon, whisk me off to a desert island in the Caribbean, then retouch the images to remove any blemishes (shriek!) ... I've decided to weigh in on a crucial part of the author package:  The Photo.

 After growing up in a family full of photographers, I'm used to the click and flash mentality. Smile! Cheese! Not the fake smile! If you know my father, uncle, or cousins, you know the drill. Every event ... at least a dozen people have cameras. Case in point, St. Louis, last Saturday. Family wedding. Monday morning, several HUNDRED photos were on Facebook!

And yes, I am getting to my point. Snapshots are fabulous! Love 'em! They're fun and flirty, sometimes not so flattering, but always good for sharing.

That said, snapshots should NOT be used for your author photo. This is one of those "won't compromise/absolutes" on my Author To-Do list, along with a great cover and serious proofreading. It's just too important. If your shot is blurry, off-center, or unprofessional, what will potential readers think of what's inside the cover? You have one chance to make a first impression -- make it the best you can.

For my author photo (and I did feel rather dorky doing it, I will admit) I went to a Portrait Innovations studio ( with no appointment and one change of clothes. The session took all of twenty minutes. I spent $69.00 and walked out the same day with three pictures on a disk that I felt good about using on my novel cover.

Take a look at these examples.  The first is off-center and blurry...

 The second is too dark and close-up. 

The third is the one that I ended up choosing for my novel covers.

I've since used the photo on my website, promotional material, Facebook, Twitter, press releases, and my two novels. I view the money and time I spent as an investment.

If you really don't have the cash to spend, enlist a friend to help, someone with knowledge of photography, a high-quality camera, and the ability to put the photos on a disk or your computer. A few extra tips:  Wear a solid color, use good lighting, and try for a natural look.

What are your thoughts on Author Photos? How do they affect your book-buying preferences?

Thank you so much, Lauren, for stopping by!  You can find Lauren Clark on Facebook and Twitter.  

You can pick up her books here:

Have a wonderful day!


  1. Lauren, I have yet to see a bad photo of you, so I think you are one of the blessed few who are naturally photogenic. I envy you! I equate getting my picture taken with going to the dentist. It's the worst! I do think it's important for authors to have a good head shot, though. So, I hired a young local photographer to do mine. He insisted on doing the shoot outdoors, which I think was a mistake. However, the photos turned out pretty well (after a little retouching.)

    My question is: How often do you think an author should get a new cover photo? Is it okay to use the same one for years and on several books? Because that's what I've been doing.

    1. Funny you should mention "dentist" Tracie, because I was there this morning getting my teeth cleaned! I love your photo Tracie; so pretty! I am looking forward to hearing what Lauren thinks about updating head shots. I used the same one for my children's books for three years. I am thinking about updating my current head shots that were taken in 2010.

    2. You are sweet (Thank you MAC makeup Gods!!!) I like your photo, and I've used the same one for the last two books. I may use it on the third one, unless PURE BARRE whacks the extra ten pounds I've been carrying around since John David was born in 2005! LOL

      I like seeing the same photo ... or something similar ... When an author throws up something totally random or different it's jarring!!

      xx, Lauren

    3. Jen Tucker - You're a doll ... and I spent ten minutes stressing over whether to use "Suck" or some other nice, more princess-y word. Sigh!

      Thank you for letting me post about author photos ... yours is adorable and friendly ... just like you. For your next one, add the tiara!!

      :) xx, Lauren

    4. I am so glad you came by, LC! My blog is your blog anytime! XOXO

  2. Great photo, Lauren! Author photos can be tricky! Author Jillian Medoff has a very cool black and white photo that I would look like a total dork should I try to copy. (How do I know? OK, I tried to copy:( I ended up looked like a victim of the Dust Bowl.

    PS--I LOVE Dancing Naked in Dixie!

    1. HA! Dee, I have a hard time believing you could ever look like a dork! You love bacon, for crying out loud so it's not possible in my book XOXO

    2. Thank you Dee! Author photos are tricky. I think on the right book, B&W is very classic. I will look for Jillian's photo ... now I am curious :)

      Thank you for the kind words about DIXIE! (Yay.... throws confetti!!!)

      xx, Lauren