Tag Archives: headshots

What a Difference a Year Makes

DSC_3058

The 2013 Ozarks Romance Authors Conference was on Saturday. I was having a horrible hair day. I thought I’d lead with that, because in every other way, my day was so fantastic, I feel obnoxious even talking about it. Not that that’s going to stop me.

My day started bright and early as I set up my portable photo studio for author headshots. I made a new friend who helped carry my equipment and set up—thanks, Quillen! Every single person was on time and an absolute pleasure to work with. I photographed twenty-three people and only had to miss one program to do it. Woohoo!

Next on the agenda: my pitch session with Foreword Literary Agent Laurie McLean. If you read my last blog post, you know how my first pitch went at ORAcon 2012. Well, this year I was ready with a carefully honed and rehearsed spiel—and I didn’t need a word of it. Laurie was one of the final judges in the ORA Weta Nichols Writing Competition, and my novel, The Amulet of Isis, was a finalist in the YA category. That meant she’d already read the first twelve pages and knew she wanted to see more. She was so easy to talk to, the pitch was actually fun. Honestly, I don’t know how it could have gone better.

After that, I had about an hour before my next round of photo sessions, so I squeezed in Shawntelle Madison and Jeannie Lin’s packed program on world building. My head was spinning, but I tried to focus on the great information being presented. All of the programs were fantastic. Our conference chair, Cecily White, did an incredible job once again rounding up amazing speakers for us. I have lots of notes to go through!

DSC_2689

And then lunch. Yum. Seriously. My mouth is watering just thinking about that pecan pie.

For me, one of the highlights of the afternoon was the Query Letter Gong Show, where agents and editors read query letters looking for problems that would make them stop reading. It’s nerve-wracking and sometimes painful, but getting that kind of feedback can be invaluable, so of course I submitted my letter. It was the first one up. My voice shook as I read my text, but I made it to the end with no gong. Then Laurie said, “It wasn’t fair to start with this one, because it’s perfect!”

DSC_3052

After that, my day really didn’t need to get any better. But it did. As I mentioned, my novel was a finalist in the annual writing competition. I was convinced the best I could hope for was second place, but I was wrong. First place. I teared up.

DSC_3075crop

I could write pages about all the high points of the weekend—the things I learned, the great conversations with other writers, the huge turnout for the conference . . . . But I’m out of energy. And superlative adjectives.

Yes, my head is a little swollen after a day like that. But no worries, my friends, I have painfully blunt critique partners who will help shrink it back to size.

Advertisements

Get More Twitter Followers–Part 1

Several people have asked me how I’ve gained so many Twitter followers since deciding to dive into the Twitterverse six months ago. My standard answer has been, “I followed people, and most of them followed me back.” It really was more complicated than that, though, so in honor of reaching 5,000 followers, I’m addressing the question in a series of three posts. This advice is geared toward writers, but many of the principles will remain the same whatever your field. Unless you’re brand new to Twitter, you will have already completed some of these steps, but perhaps you’ll still find some helpful ideas.

Step 1–Set the Stage

Create a profile people will want to follow. This is your first impression, so make it a good one, using a carefully crafted bio, a great photo and background images that reflect your writing style. You can see what I’ve done at @sdkeeling.

Bio—Ask yourself, why would people be interested in you? Who are you trying to connect with? You can’t capture your entire personality in 160 characters, so showcase interests you share with the people you most want to attract.

Be specific! It helps you stand out and find others with like interests. Don’t just say you’re a writer, tell us what you’re writing. Give the genre rather than the title. Titles often convey little information for someone who’s not familiar with your writing.

Use hashtags so that people can find you when they search for certain terms, like the subject or genre of your book.

Fill in your location. I’ve made friends on Twitter from the opposite side of the world, but it grabs my attention when I see another writer who lives nearby.

Don’t forget your website! People often click through to learn more about you. You can give a link to your Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon—just give them somewhere to go!

Photo—Don’t be an egg. Any photo is better than no photo, but it’s worth taking some time to choose the right one. This is a big part of your first impression, so think about the image you want to project—Professional? Friendly? Funny? Sexy? Edgy?

Seriously consider having a professional photographer create a headshot for you. You may be able to do this inexpensively at a writers’ convention, such as the Ozarks Romance Authors conference. A classic piece of career advice is to dress for the job you want, not the job you have. That applies here as well. Successful agents and authors tend to use professional images to add polish to their presentation. If you want to look like you belong in that crowd, hire a professional photographer and dress for success.

Background Images—A custom header and background image can really make your profile stand out and contribute to your branding.

Published authors tend to incorporate their book covers or other artwork related to their books. I used images from my trip to Egypt, along with a little creative Photoshop work, to create an ancient Egyptian atmosphere to represent my time travel adventure novel.

twitter

Pay attention to design details. I gave a single warm brown tone to both my header and background images, creating a harmonious look that sets a mood without being visually cluttered. Be careful that your header does not interfere with the readability of your bio text, and that important parts of the image are not hidden behind your photo. You may want to enlist the help of a friend who is talented at graphic design, or hire someone from Fiverr to help you out.

It can take some time to get your profile just right, but it’s worth the effort. After all, you never know when a fellow writer, agent or future reader might be taking a look.

Come back next week for Step 2–Getting Your Feet Wet!