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:http://www.mwa-ma.org/events2.html