…standing in front of my mirror,
combed my hair in a thousand ways,
but I came out looking just the same.
– Rod Stewart
Today my wife took my author’s picture. You know, the one that usually appears on the inside back of the dust jacket, above the biography. If you’re like me, you flip to the back for that picture before you even buy a book. You want to know the kind of person you’re dealing with.
Which makes me a bit uncertain how to proceed with my own. This is the first time I’ve done anything like this, and I have an important decision to make. What kind of children’s book author do I want to be? I’ve seen enough pictures to know the basic sorts.
For example, there’s the “author at work.” I’ve always liked these, because it gives the impression that the author is really too busy to put down the pen and smile for the camera.
My favorites in this genre are the ones that prominently feature a pet. For example, there’s the one with a dachshund peering almost accusingly at E.B. White, and a number of pictures with P.G. Wodehouse and his own canine pals. If I have two heroes in this world, it’s White and Wodehouse, so I could I do anything but include my faithful feline Torii, who’s chewed and/or reclined on every draft of Mudville?
There’s also the contemplative, ponderous look, as if I’m attempting to get my head around the intricacies of the infield fly rule.
A variation on the serious look is the “looking off into the distance” look, as if you are thinking about the future or just noticed the house across the street is on fire.
There’s also the one where the author scowls and digs the knuckles of one hand up under the chin, which supposedly gives a writer a determined look, like he or she not only means to write about serious, important things, but also means to make a difference in the world. Indeed, the photo seems to say, I already done so.
On the flip side, some children’s book writers prefer to adopt a zany look that says, “hey, you just don’t know what crazy stuff I’ll come up with next!”
If an author wants something a little less maniacal looking, he or she might go for a whimsical look… but on second thought, I’m not sure if it’s really less maniacal.
I think what pictures are really trying to say is, “I’m just child at heart and a dreamer.”