Top Sixteen: Poses for Authors

Credit: Raymond Carver Author Photo

Credit: Raymond Carver Author

Are you a new author? Haven’t had your headshots done yet?

No fear! Your kind friends at The Sweet Sixteens have compiled a list of the Top Sixteen Author Poses, to keep you from making any dreadful career-killing mistakes, such as appearing too much like your natural self.


1. “The Literary Smoulder”: Preferably black and white; transfix them with your moody gaze. Extra points if you manage to transfix them while not even looking at the camera.

2. “Miss Middle Grade”: Scrunch yourself up small and give a nice, nice smile as you think nice, nice thoughts. Tilt your head just a little bit to the side, just in case anyone might think your small self and your nice, nice smile are the teeniest bit threatening.

3. “Mysterious Madam”: Hold a scarf, or teacup, or cat over part of your face. Leave your readers wondering what you really look like.

4. “Mr/s. Easygoing Confidence” For men, sit on a bench/wall/whatever with legs spread and arms at rest in front of you. For women, lean back against a wall/tree/whatever, thumbs hooked in pants pockets. Look directly at camera because you know the world is your fan club, but smile to let everyone know your popularity didn’t make you a snob.

5. “The BROOKS BENJAMIN”: Wear a fake beard. Pose away! Manage to look handsome/ beautiful regardless.

6. “The Cat”: If you don’t like being the center of attention, put your cat in the photo. If you don’t have a cat, borrow one. If no one will lend you a cat, steal one. If you’re allergic, put a potted plant on your lap and pet it lovingly. Anything to avoid being all alone in the camera’s eye!

7. “The Black Turtleneck”: You don’t even need to be in the picture. Just the black turtleneck.

8. The “Birth Announcement”: A grown-up version of the common “baby propped up on his elbows” theme. In this one, you prop your hands on a pile of books, lean over and try hard to look authorly.

9. “Author in the Headlights”: Someone is pointing a camera at me and shouting at me to smile and I really want to go back to my book and… hey, did they just take a photo of me?

10. “The Nostalgia”: photo of 40-something author that was clearly taken when Bill Clinton was president.

11. “Author-in-the-Wild”: Look, kids! I’m fun! I do things like hike, hang out in the park, and visit famous landmarks. I am a REAL person, promise!

12. “The Picture Within a Picture”: Make a statement not once, but TWICE!

13. “The Elfin Author-Maiden”: Wear your hair loose and tumbly. Turn your back to the camera. Give us a limpid look over your shoulder. Soft, golden focus. I want to read your book now.

14. “The Twitter Egg”: For authors who are a little bit behind on some things (like getting head shots done).

15. “The Prison Files”: Because it seems like an awesome idea to stand in front of that brick or stone wall until you realize it looks like someone snapped a random shot of you in Cell Block 8.

16. “My Book is SO Grim and Dark, Y’all”: Wear black everything, choose an industrial backdrop, and glower into the distance to show how much time you spend contemplating the dark side of human nature. Add black eyeliner if your book has a paranormal component.

Many thanks to our awesome writers: Sarah Ahlers, Ki-Wing Merlin, Victoria Coe, Heidi Heilig, Kali Wallace, Claire Fayers, Lee Gjertsen Malone, Laura Shovan, Erin Schneider, Heather Meloche, Margot Harrison and Bridget Hodder.


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