Pub Rants

Wait Until I Lose 20 Pounds

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Note: Blogger was down last night so even though I had created this entry, I couldn’t post it. Sorry about that.

STATUS: Just finished working on a contract so I’m a little cross-eyed.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? PUT YOUR RECORDS ON by Corinne Bailey Rae

This contract took a bit of time because it was my first at this particular publisher and as an agent, I have to establish by kick-butt boilerplate.

I was struck by one of the clauses though. It read, “The Author will deliver to the Publisher on or before the Delivery Date for the book a selection of color photographs of the author cleared of all necessary permissions.” Now my authors have always provided an author photo with cleared permissions but it’s never been a contractual clause before so I was a little surprised to see it.

Now I’ve had more than one client delay the getting of the author photo because they wanted to lose a little weight. I understand the desire, believe me, but with these kinds of clauses popping into contracts, there can be no more procrastination (or there can be up until the book is d&a so I guess set a diet/exercise schedule if you’re adamant about the photo weight you want).

One client even begged me to give her six more months to get author shot ready and I had to ask, very kindly of course, what the likelihood of her achieving that goal in 6 months if she hadn’t done so before now. Well, she had to laugh at that.

And you know what, she did the author shot a week later and she looked terrific. Outright lovely.

So I realize that we are all a little self-critical when it comes to our own body images but I say, stuff that. You are who you are. Be proud of the way you look and no more procrastinating on your author shot.

Besides, your contract just might not let you.

27 Responses

  1. Anonymous said:

    Well, with the optimistic thought that my agent could sell my book in the next month or so, I have definitely thought of the possibility that my author photo could feature me very, very pregnant.

    Can anyone say face-shot?:)

    On the other hand, when else in your life can you lose 20 pounds in one week? *Big Grin*


  2. Anonymous said:

    Here’s a schedule for fun:

    1) Start dieting when you start the query process.

    2) Get a Mary Kay make-over when you sign with an agent.

    3) Get a new outfit and have your photo taken when you sign with a publisher.

    Seriously though, ‘Agent 007 on Publishing’ blog had an entry on October 17th discussing the harsh realities of authors’ looks.

  3. Anonymous said:

    That’s so crazy, you never really think that body image is going to be an issue with authors. I would have thought the standard author request in this area would have been, “Give me 6 months so I can look a bit moodier.”

    Maprilynne – I may have missed the news on AW, but congrats on the preganacy! (I’m Toothpaste, by the way, in case you are confused who this is :->)

  4. Frustrated Writer said:

    My husband is an amateur photographer. There is a program called Liquify that a photographer can use to make the subject look thinner. Voila! No need to wait to get that author photo.

  5. Anonymous said:

    Photoshop works wonders.

    My advice: post on college message boards looking for undergraduate graphic artists who would be thrilled to have something like this on their resume for a smaller-than-professional fee.

  6. Amy MacKinnon said:


    Great post! Ladies, forget about feeling bad about your neck.

    I first saw Grace Paley at a conference last May. Her age, her appearance, her weak shuffle as she crossed the stage all spoke of a woman too fragile to offer much of anything to the crowd of hundreds before her. I wondered if, even with the microphone, she could be heard.

    And then she began to speak. Her voice was strong, richly textured and inflected with a rhythm known only to poets. She told us of the day before, how she and her husband had been protesting in New York, had a terrible argument, and then parted ways before reaching the subway. Such passion, I marveled, for both politics and a man. At her age. She then read snippets of linked essays she’d jotted down on the bus ride north to Boston. Captured in those few hurried words were brilliant observations on the human condition.

    So forget about you neck (and tummy and thighs). Learn what it is to age Gracefully.

  7. Anonymous said:

    How much of the author has to show in the photograph? How about if it’s just one eye? A slender, shapely eye, of course.

    Hmm. I have an old photograph that was used on a novel, back when I was slenderer and had hair. Maybe I should dig that out for future use!

  8. Anonymous said:

    My 10 yr old daughter shot my picture (this one, as a matter of fact) and I used it as my author shot for my book ‘Horse Passages’. The publisher wanted the name of the photographer, But I couldn’t write ‘my daughter’ & I didn’t want to use her name, so I asked a good friend if I could use her name on the photo, lol. So if you look on the back of my book you’ll see me grinning at my daughter, and the name of my best friend as photographer.

  9. Anonymous said:

    Alas, I was one of the “I want to loose weight authors.” But unfortunately, I am a stress eater and found that I had significantly more stress after selling than before. I’m still trying to tell myself that I do not want to be up for an award and wearing an evening gown at this size, but then we’ll see how that works out. 🙂

    Jana DeLeon

  10. Debby G. said:

    Here’s some advice for those writers (like moi) who haven’t aged really well: Set your book in the past. For my book Stuck in the ’70s, my publisher used my high school photo from 1978 on the book jacket. I was about 110 pounds and wrinkle-free back then.

    If it’s too late for that, I give you two valuable words: Adobe Photoshop.

  11. kates said:

    Is it always a author’s requirement to provide the publisher with one’s photo? I’m thinking of anonymity factors, etc.

  12. Anonymous said:

    That’s weird. Most of the books I own don’t have photos of their authors. Is this only done like on hardcover books?

    . . . .

    What if I really, really don’t want my picture on it. Since this is the first time you’ve seen this in a contract, maybe it isn’t so common. Will those publishers who don’t require a pic be satisfied with just a little paragraph about me?

  13. Anonymous said:

    Would they want a photo even when anyone would agree your apprearance is a bit – well – off? I have severe alopecia: my hair is thin and patchy at best (I haven’t appeared in public without a hat in 6 years). Even with the hat, my lack of eyebrows or eyelashes is odd, to say the least. We’re not talking gorgous & exotic, like that beauty queen who shaved off her hair for the Star Trek movie; we’re talking a large middle-aged woman who looks like a clone of the Buddha. Would anyone seriously want a picture of that?

  14. Rachel Ann Dryden said:

    Since the majority vote seems to be in favor of ‘fake it till you make it’ or other variations on getting a photo more flattering than reality, I’d like to present an opposing view.

    I have a great photo of me that I use for any online sites that need one. I love this picture, and it’s very flattering. Problem: I don’t look like that anymore. So my fear is that I’ll be at a booksigning or meet some online friends in person, and they won’t recognize me based on that photo. They’ll be unpleasantly surprised by the reality.

    I think I’d like to look better in person than in my photo, if I have to pick which one is most flattering (since odds are pretty good I’ll never get both a flattering photo that’s also realistic).

    Word verification: kwule. Kwule Dude!

  15. Anonymous said:

    Looks as though they didn’t specify as to what body part the author’s submitted photo should include; they want a selection, give ’em a selection. 😉


  16. Julie Leto said:

    Am I the only one thinking…well, just because it’s IN a contract doesn’t mean I have to agree to it? Not that I care…I have my photo done and though I desperately need to update it, it will do in a pinch. However, if an author wants to remain anonymous, I’m sure it’s no skin off anyone’s nose to scratch that clause in the contract. I can’t remember who…but there is a very popular author whose photo is always shot at a distance and from behind.

  17. Anonymous said:

    What if an author doesn’t want a photo on the book jacket? Plenty of books don’t have them. I would think an author is within her rights to refuse.

  18. katiesandwich said:

    The timing of this post is freaky. I’ve been thinking about this a lot, actually, because I recently made my first short story sale (go, me!) and had the option to send in an author photo. I didn’t because I don’t like the way–weight–I look these days. But you’re right, Kristin. It shouldn’t bother me. But it does. Sigh. Well, maybe I’ll have finally lost the weight left over from two pregnancies by the time I get a publisher!

    And if not, I’ll get over it, suck it up, and get a snapshot taken.

  19. Karen Dionne said:

    When I look at someone’s picture, the last thing I think is, “Boy, is he or she fat.” I look at their expression, and the setting, and the mood the picture creates.

    Sure, there are a few drop-dead gorgeous authors, but for most of us, no matter how our pictures are photo-shopped, we’ll never reach that point.

    I opted for ‘interesting.’ After all, interesting people write interesting books!


  20. Melanie Lynne Hauser said:

    You can always go the “glamazon” route – artfully flattering lighting, professional hair and makeup, etc. But I wanted people to be able to recognize me; I didn’t want people to say, “Wow, you look a lot different in your author photo!” And then I’d have to wonder if they meant that as a compliment or not.

    So remember that, too, when fretting about the weight thing. You do want people to recognize you a year from now when the book is out!

  21. Michelle said:

    I was told on a Friday that my editor needed the photo on Monday. :0 There wasn’t time for anything else but a digital candid shot. It’ll work, but I wish I had gotten the professional shot much earlier.

  22. Anonymous said:

    I went to a professional photographer when I first started the query process. Had the photographer give me a diskette with the photos so I’d have them when I sold my book.

    The photo clause in my contract didn’t bother me. It was the clause about granting my publisher use of my name and bio that threw me. We had to rewrite that clause to include use of my pseudonym and a biography approved by me for publicity.

  23. Kim Stagliano said:

    Realtors often use photos on their biz cards. I had seen the shot of out town’s top realtor for years in ads. Then I met her. 50 pounds and 15 years after the shot had been taken! Very disconcerting because she looked so different – not that she was heavy or older. I should think a jacket photo is like your wedding day – you want to look like YOU coming down the aisle. Not a stranger. Even a “gussied up” stranger. Jacket photo – I can’t wait to have such decisions! LOL!

  24. Anonymous said:

    HP has a digital camera with a built-in “slimming” effect. See the demo here. It won’t make you look skinny if you weigh 300 lbs., but it can take a few pounds off.

  25. Termagant 2 said:

    The camera has hated me since I was four. I should know: I’m the only daughter of a professional photographer. Plus, now in my Prime of Life (I say that now instead of Midlife Meltdown), I have skinny eyes. Admire if you will: they’re the last skinny part of me left.

    So I found a photographer at a writers’ conference. She took shots that look like me, and that’s enough. If my publisher doesn’t like them, well, I can write a lot better than I photograph, and that’s my last say on the subject.