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I'm ready for My Close-Up Mr. DeMille

Now I'm fairly certain many of the younger readers won't understand the title of this entry so let me explain. It's a famous quote from the 1950 film, Sunset Boulevard.

The film stars a popular golden age actress, Gloria Swanson. Her role is that of an aging film star that refuses to believe her time in the spotlight has winded down. This leads to several bad decisions, violence and tragedy. The actual line from the film is, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up. I'm not sure why, but over the years the order has shifted to reflect the new phrase.

By now you're probably wondering where this blog is going, so let's get into it. As an author we often give advice to new writers about structure, grammar, editing, and process. We focus on marketing with social media, podcasts, and blog interviews. However, today I'd like to touch base with something that may sound trivial—headshots. Taking pictures with readers at a signing is real time, they see you as you are today. But what about the promotional headshots we use for our webpage, Facebook, Instagram, and a plethora of other social media sites?

This may seem like a vain approach but in actuality, it's a tool. A way to relate with our readers and potential new readers. When they see you for the first time at a signing after looking at a promotional poster for weeks prior to the event, they expect to see that person in the picture. If the photo is ten, twenty or more years older, it can be jarring to your fans. We may not think we've changed much but the truth is we age just like everyone else and keeping current suggests that we are proud of who we are and who we are becoming.

Victoria Kaer of Dark Angel Graphics, creates all the posters for the Coffee House Tours. She insists on quality photos for both the posters and our webpage. This makes a huge difference with our coffee shops when promoting our signings and books. If you're thinking about booking Barnes & Noble, they will ask for a headshot to create their own poster they will use to advertise your signing. I can't count how many times I've had customers approach and look at the poster and then at me and tell me I look like that. I usually chuckle because I know exactly what they mean. You may not think they notice, but take this example... Four years ago I decided to go silver/white with my hair. I had a signing at B&N but they had an old picture and I forgot to send my latest headshots. That was definitely my fault. Anyway, all day long during the signing, potential readers would come to my table and not initially realize I was the author. They commented how different I appeared in my photo. That was wasted time we could have spent talking about the books. I had to explain yes, it does look different and I need to update my picture...

Please don't misunderstand. I'm not suggesting we all need glamour shots, I am saying it's a good idea to refresh your headshot every two to five years to keep up with the natural changes we all encounter. Especially if you've completely changed your look. As authors we need to use everything available to us for marketing our brand and our books and up dating your headshot every few years is a simple tool you can apply.

Besides, every time you change pictures on social media it goes out to the masses and will generate a response and the perfect excuse to engage further.

Below is my evolution from about 2011 to present day. You can see I've had many changes over the years and with each change came new headshots. And since I'm least happy with the latest set, (never shoot pictures with a severe headache) I will be redoing them. LOL

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