Among the many things authors must do before their book comes out in print is to pose for publicity shots. My debut novel is scheduled for publication 14 months from now—September 2019. That may seem far away, but the publisher needs my photos by May 2019 for the editing phase. So, I figured I’d take my pictures now—July 2018—because spring in New England doesn’t even begin to look like spring until June of any given year.
I had photographer extraordinaire, Adrienne Albrecht take photos of me on the grounds of the office park where we work. In addition to the author bio that will appear at the back of my novel, I’ll most likely use the photos for my website, newsletters I’ll send to subscribers, flyers I’ll have printed promoting my author appearances and workshops I might teach. I’ll also likely use the photos for any guest blog posts I may do or short stories or essays I might get published.
For anyone looking to take publicity shots for any reason here are some pointers from M.J. Rose and Randy Susan Meyers in their book, What to Do Before Your Book Launch.
Color counts: Wear the color that looks best on you. (My personal favorite is electric blue)
Hide your blemishes: Photos freeze you in time.
Choose a smile and practice it: Good idea. But my smile is chronically lopsided. I have no way of correcting it. It’s become my trademark.
Sit or stand straight: A good photographer will coach you on that and point out when you’re slouching.
Bring a few more outfits than you’ll need: I brought several and found that some of the colors I thought would make me dazzle really didn’t. I’m glad I brought several choices.
And above all, the most important pointer is to have fun: We did. Adrienne and I had a fabulous time taking photos. When I checked my watch, we’d been at it an hour and half but it hadn’t seemed that long. We were having such a great time.
I recently went to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston to an exhibition of the work of Gordon Parks, one of the most celebrated photographers of all time. The exhibition’s 42 photographs were from a series originally meant to accompany a Life magazine photo essay, but for unknown reasons, the story was never published.
In 1948, Parks was the first African American photographer hired by Life magazine. The images for the unpublished photo essay depict the realities of life under segregation in 1950. Parks returned to his hometown, Fort Scott, Kansas, and then other Midwestern cities to track down and photograph each of his childhood classmates.
The experience of mining his childhood memories and the work on the “Back to Fort Scott,” seemed to have inspired him to write The Learning Tree in 1963, his best-selling novel about growing up poor in Kansas.
Once completed, Parks’ Fort Scott photo essay never appeared in Life. Most of the photos were never before on view until this exhibition at the Boston MFA. The reason remains a mystery, although the U.S. entry into the Korean War that summer had a major impact on the content of its pages for some time. The magazine’s editors did try to resuscitate the story early in April of 1951 only to have it passed over by the news of President Truman’s firing of General Douglas MacArthur.
The story of what happened to this photo essay all those years ago should resonate with us who work hard to have our stories published, only to have them passed over for unknown reasons. But, as in the case of Gordon Parks’ photo essay, that doesn’t mean that the creative work won’t eventually find its audience.
Because of technical problems, one of Lisa Allen’s email addresses does not forward to her Gmail account. After many phone calls and calling the host company for her website, the writer/photographer was able to do a temporary fix on her account. The inbox was packed with spam, but she was reluctant to do a “check all” and delete … just in case. She discovered an acceptance email from Rockport Publishers.
The book, “1000 FOOD ART & STYLING IDEAS” is a curated collection of photos, organized in categories such as color, global, indulge, chill and aerial, the chapter where you will find Lisa’s contribution. Artists were not paid for accepted submissions, but are offered a discount should they want to purchase the book directly from the publisher. However, a comprehensive index of the photographers and their contact information is included in the book. So you can be certain Lisa will be checking that web mail account more frequently!
Moral of the story? Establish a routine for checking extra email accounts! If you don’t mind bundling all of your correspondence into a single account, arrange for your author or artist website email to be forwarded to an account you visit daily.