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!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Confessions of a Stuffaholic with Pj Schott

It is the first Wednesday in June, and that means the glorious Pj Schott is here to deliver a message to the masses. Pj has lived in several U.S. port cities, Europe, Greece, and the Middle East. A marketing professional, mystery writer, and futurist, Pj is known to those with whom she works as a problem-solver, an innovative thinker, a top-notch communicator, a visionary, and the soul of a group. She is the owner of the Boston, Massachusetts based company GENIUS and is the woman behind the new Facebook page and blog, Survival for Blondes, where Pj is entirely surrounded by imagined disasters and learns to rise above.

Let the fabulous Queen of Blonde Survival be heard!

Hi, My Name is Pj … and I’m a Stuffaholic

Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.
– Winnie the Pooh

UNIVERSAL LAW teaches us that nature abhors a vacuum. We decide we want our house to look like Martha Stewart lives there, but as soon as we drop off our bags at the Salvation … voila!! All we did was create another Stuff Magnet.

Ah … the circle of life. Pack-rattery is a human condition (go ahead, count my legs). One minute we’re patting ourselves on our uber‑organized backs, and, the next … we contemplate filling the void with Retail Therapy.

Rivers know this ….

SIMPLE ISN’T EASY. My Stuffaholic condition hits me whenever I travel. I survive quite happily with the contents of my airline-approved carry-on bag. At my hotel, I revel in the joy of unpacking my suitcase with plenty of room to store everything. Visions of Minimalism begin a Danse Macabre in my head. And, once again, I vow to go home and change my errant ways.

KNOW THYSELF is an inscription at The Temple of Apollo at Delphi in Greece. Self-knowledge improves both our quality of life and our relationships with other people. Rather than history repeating, we make better decisions, and choices with less painful consequences.

Meditating at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, I realized I had hit rock bottom. Broken promises to myself began to haunt me. Then a moment of clarity and I realized I could do this, but not alone. I felt brave enough to take the first step and admit I have a problem.

PROFESSIONAL HELP was needed here. I love my Stuff, but I love having Space much more.  My house should always look nice, just in case the Architectural Digest photographers show up. At home I might lose my newfound resolve, so I immediately phoned one of the tried-and-true organizers I already have on speed-dial. I would remain a Recovering Stuffaholic for the rest of my life.

Getting organized is a lot like losing weight. It’s one thing to rid yourself of the blubber … quite another to maintain one’s blubber-free form. Likewise, what took a lifetime to become entrenched in my psyche would not disappear overnight.

There is no hurry ….

THE PAIN OF WITHDRAWAL – nausea, anxiety, insomnia – is the fear my addict self faces. But treatment involves learning that

·         Success will depend on commitment and support.
·         My organizer is aware of all the tactics that might make me fall off the wagon.
·         During my detox Stuff will be the only thing on my mind.
·         My solution to the discomfort will be more Stuff, which is the last thing I need.
·         I will go extremes for more Stuff but the organizer will know how to get me through it.
·         My organizer will know when I am done with my withdrawal, and when it’s time for the next step of my treatment.
We shall get there some day.

My thanks and love to Pj, and to you, for stopping by Princess With a Pen today!