Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ready for My Closeup

by G.M. Malliet

My most recent stop on the publishing trail was having my author photo professionally taken. I had been getting by for a few years with rather hazy digital vacation snaps taken by my husband. It was explained to me by Midnight Ink that for their catalog, I'd need a headshot taken by a real photographer. They sent a sheet of rather daunting and specific instructions ("Please do not lay your head in your hands on a table" - I wasn't entirely sure what that meant but I vowed to keep my head off any tables), and off I went on my quest for the perfect photographer.

I had never had my photo done professionally before and I faced the whole thing with a certain amount of dread. There were high school and college graduation photos, but those were more assembly-line productions. Then there were my wedding photos, which were largely a matter of capturing everyone on film before they were too drunk to stand. This would be the real thing with various costume changes and a stylist(!).

But it all turned out to be a fun experience which I would highly recommend to anyone. Any excuse will do - birthday or anniversary or whatever. You will probably find you really, really like being fussed over like Oprah for two hours.

I got many good recommendations for photographers from the various writers' listserves I belong to, but I went with Michael Collins, who has a studio near Annapolis. His stylist/makeup artist, Laural Hargadon, also works for national and regional beauty pageants. Just imagine. Just. Imagine. I can think of a few more pressure-cooker jobs, but not many. I must have seemed relatively low-maintenance, since I was not, merciful God, facing a swimsuit competition.

For weeks before my appointment, I studied various author photos on the backs of book covers to figure out what kind of "look" I wanted to aim for. I found an awful lot of mystery authors in raincoats and/or fedoras and/or leather jackets, and I'm still not sure what that is about. It would be a great topic for someone's master's thesis. These authors looked dark and sinister and intriguing but since my books are more satiric than anything, figuring out what a satiric author of traditional mysteries might wear was the biggest challenge. A deerstalker hat? In the end, I packed half of what I owned into a suitcase and set off, hoping for the best. (This was where Laural came in handy, in helping me choose.)

Anyway, don't hesitate...the whole process is a hoot. And you, too, can be Diva for a Day.

p.s. For those in the Mid-Atlantic region, the Dying to Write conference still has openings. Registration information here:


Mark Terry said...

Your photo is lovely.

Joe Moore said...

The photo looks great! Congrats.

Candy Calvert said...

Great photo--warm, intelligent, and lovely. Glad you had fun!


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Well done!

Mark Combes said...

But that photo isn't of you! Or is it? That would have been quite a trick on us eh?

I think you made excellent choices in both wardrobe and tone. I'd buy your book!

Nina Wright said...

You struck the perfect balance: You look lovely AND you look like a writer. A happy writer--as opposed to dark, sinister, etc.


Mark Terry said...

Yes, but some of us dark and sinister-looking writers write dark and sinister stuff :) (and maybe we're, well, kinda dark & sinister--that's what it says on my business card!)

Mark Terry, Writer
Dark & Sinister

Julia Buckley said...

What a pretty photo, GM! I think it's perfect for a book jacket. I especially like the reading glasses at the ready. :)

Nina Wright said...

Mark T.--I aspire to Dark and Sinister. Then I'll need a new author photo for sure since the current one shows me cuddling a cat and dog. I kill off two-leggers only. In this series....


Felicia Donovan said...

We weren't supposed to rest our heads in our hands on the table? Oh shoot! Then I suppose the bear rug is out too?

Lovely photo. Well done.

Felicia Donovan

G.M. Malliet said...

Thanks to all for all the kind comments here!