4 Reasons to Update Your Headshot

by Emilie Hendryx, @eacreativephoto

If you are a writer or author building a platform (or with an existing one) you need an updated headshot. Some may not agree with this statement citing excuses about not being photogenic, that they have a good headshot (that is yeas old), or that they don’t like having their photo taken, but I don’t think these are good reasons.

You may be thinking: Emilie, are you just advocating for updating your headshots because you’re a photographer?

 The answer is no! Sure, I’m a professional photographer who does headshots, but that’s not a factor in this post. Instead, I’ve compiled four things a quality headshot will do and why you should make getting updated headshots a priority.

An updated, quality headshot will…

1)Put your best face forward

Don’t underestimate the benefits of having a professional headshot in this busy—and cluttered— world of social media. This doesn’t mean that your headshot has to be stiff or staged but it should be taken by a professional photographer with a quality camera. Why? Because this shows your level of commitment and dedication to professionalism on your platform. It will make you stand out. Readers (or potential readers) will be drawn to a professional headshot over a selfie because of the quality of the photo.I’m not saying that you can’t use selfies or non-professional photos on your platform (I encourage this), but your profile photo should be something of quality that best shows your personality.

2)Draw attention

A professional, updated headshot will draw attention to your platform. Not only can you update your profile images on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads, and other social media sites, but you can also use the photos in blog posts and on your website to give a personal touch. In my own experience, as well as market research I’ve seen, personal images shared on social media tend to draw more attention than other posts. People want to see YOU.

3)Give a face to your brand

As writers, we are our brand. Yet another reason why it’s so important that our headshots are up to date. You wouldn’t expect your close friends to have a photo of you from five years ago and never see an updated photo, so you shouldn’t expect your followers/audience to be all right with an older photo. To build a genuine platform, you need to be genuine. Your audience will respond to honesty and transparency and that starts with showing the face behind the platform.

4)Make a personal connection

I believe that, since our society so heavily relies on social media, they are hungry for a personal connection that reaches beyond the sometimes-impersonal nature of online interaction. Why do they gravitate toward personal photos? They want to connect with us. They want to know us. And one way to do that is to show our faces. It’s not a trick or a ploy; it’s just another way to make a connection to those who interact with us.

What do you think? Have I convinced you yet? If not, here are a few additional excuses that I’ve heard. Some of these go deeper than just not wanting to have your picture taken.

  • Photos can be expensive.
    I completely understand this and would recommend taking advantage of specials (like what is offered at the ACWF Conference) or taking a chance on a new photographer whose prices are still low. Some photographers are also looking to enlarge their portfolio and, in exchange for letting them use your photos for promotion, may give free or discounted photos. Also consider the reality that this is part of your marketing budget.
  • You were hoping to lose weight or do something different with your hair etc.
    I get it—you want to look your best—but does that mean you aren’t embracing where you are right now? You must find the balance between understanding where you are, where you want to be, and embracing both.
  • You don’t like the way you look.
    This is probably the most common thing I hear from people as a reason why they don’t get new photos. They had one good photo taken ten years ago and that’s what they are sticking with because they liked themselves then. I think this is a mistake.
    It’s my belief that we must first seek our worth and identity in Christ before anything else. You may not love the way you look now due to age, weight, hair (or lack of), but guaranteed those who know and love you only see you. They don’t see what you could be, but who you are. Don’t let anyone (including yourself) tell you that you can’t get an updated headshot because you don’t look a certain way.

Build a genuine platform by showcasing who you are with an updated, quality headshot. Your audience will love seeing you!


Emilie Hendryx is a freelance writer, photographer, and graphic designer living in Northern California. She’s a member of ACFW, writes Young Adult fiction, and spends more time on Instagram than she probably should. With a heart for youth and a love of genuine social media connections, she’s built a thriving community around her Instagram platform and brand: CreateExploreRead. She’s got a soft spot in her heart for animals and a love for the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. In her spare time, you can find her designing fun, bookish items for her Etsy and Society6 shops all while drinking too much coffee.

What’s the Deal with a Memoir?

Cindy Sproles, @CindyDevoted

I have a memoir. It’s done. It’s good. But no one wants to look at memoirs. Why are they so hard to sell?

It’s important to know the facts and remember there is always an exception to the rule. There are some writers who end up in the right place, at the right time, with the perfect manuscript, but for the most of us, our hard work doesn’t supersede the obstacles . . . especially with a memoir.

We all have a story and some are amazing feats of overcoming obstacles and hardships. There’s no doubt the path you followed could help others wade through their own rough patches, but the buyer’s market looks at things a little differently. Readers are greedy with their money and rightfully so. Most readers do not care about the average person’s plight. They fight their own battles, overcome difficult situations, survive illnesses. Why would yours be any different?

Your memoir can be different as long as you avoid the hazards that can easily snare you.

New York Times writer, Neil Genzlinger, best described in his 2011 article, The Problem with Memoirs, why memoirs are not successful for most authors.

Memoirs have been disgorged by virtually every­one who has ever had cancer, been anorexic, battled depression, lost weight. By anyone who has ever taught an underprivileged child, adopted an under­privileged child or been an under­privileged child. By anyone who was raised in the ’60s, ’70s or ’80s, not to mention the ’50s, ’40s or ’30s. Owned a dog. Run a marathon. Found religion. Held a job.

Does this mean you cannot write a successful memoir? Certainly not, but it is important to understand snags that will cause your memoir to fail.

  1. Platform is a must – “What is your platform? Who can help you sell this book?” Publishers must financially invest in opportunities they feel will help keep the lights at the office, so they take your platform, or lack of, very serious. Building that tribe of individuals to whom you can sell and who will also help you sell your work, is vital. Medium sized publishers are more likely to contract memoirs if the story is truly compelling. Still, they insist on knowing what the author can and will do to help sell the book. Larger houses lean toward the celebrity side for obvious reasons. Celebrities have thousands of followers. Though it’s sad, we love to read about our favorite actors and how their lavish lifestyles cause them to slip and fall. Smaller publishers will publish the memoir, but it’s important to remember their arm into the market is shorter and their ability to market even less. Self-publishing will put your book out there, but all the marketing is your responsibility. Is your platform big enough to help you regain what you invest to self-publish? This is something to seriously think about.
  2. Readers don’t want to suffer – Many times a memoir focuses on the pain and agony of an issue forgetting the good things in the lives of those who have lived the story. The author wants the reader to feel their pain – and if feeling the pain once isn’t enough, they beat the reader over the head thinking that incessant reminders will help it “sink in.” Readers are smart. They understand the pain and suffering. There’s no need to force feed them the agony. Learn to show the incident with balance and control allowing the reader to become sympathetic and interested, rather than put off.
  3. There is no real meaning – Often writers tell the story of a hardship they’ve experienced and it ends leaving the reader unfulfilled, with no sense of closure. No sense of accomplishment. It was simply a story about overcoming a disease. Remember the run of movies in the 80’s that started out as pretty good movies, but when they ended, there was nothing? No resolution, no joy, nothing. The movie just ended. You felt cheated. When a memoir ends, there should be resolution and an end, that even if it’s tough, shows some sort of hope or determination to persevere. Be sympathetic that not everyone overcomes. 
  4. Avoid a cry for sympathy for the author –We live in a world of “it’s all about me.” Readers are not interested in feeling sorry for someone when they have their own troubles. Writing a compelling memoir pushes the author to the side and tells the real story without constant author interruption.
  5. Dig into the hardship not just the person – How can you write a memoir without digging into a person’s life? It happens when authors allow the story to encompass nothing but pain, no hope, no depth of impact to others around them. It’s easy to allow the manuscript to become a pity party and self-absorbed rather than pulling out the heavy “I” and allowing the impact of the story on others to show as well. Good memoirs cover a life, not just the tragedy.
  6. Seek out a new twist on an old subject. Remember if you have experienced something, chances are, thousands of other have as well. This is good in that there are others looking for how someone else handled the same situations – bad because there are thousands of others who have written the exact same story. Hence, why Genzlinger remarked as he did in his New York Times article. Dig into your soul for the twist that makes your unique story stand out. This event has deeply impacted your life. Now make it dig into the heart of your reader by showing the life lessons, not just how you overcame the problem. 


If you choose to write a memoir, research, practice. Look for your unique twist. Seek guidance from someone who is accomplished in writing a memoir. Their guidance will be valuable. A good memoir doesn’t just talk about an accomplishment, it helps to change lives.

TWEETABLES

What’s the Deal with a Memoir? By Cindy Sproles (Click to Tweet)

snags that will cause your memoir to fail.~ Cindy Sproles (Click to Tweet)

A good memoir doesn’t just talk about an accomplishment, it helps to change lives.~ Cindy Sproles (Click to Tweet)


Cindy K. Sproles is the cofounder of Christian Devotions Ministries, a best-selling author, and a speaker. She teaches nationally at writers conferences as well as mentoring new writers. Cindy serves as the managing editor of SonRise Devotionals and Straight Street Books, both imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is a contributing writer to The Write Conversation and Novel Rocket.com. You can visit Cindy at www.cindysproles.com.

Should I Give a Webinar? Part III

by Linore Rose Burkard

In Parts One and Two, I discussed fears about giving webinars, and how to put such hindrances to rest. But are there real drawbacks to the medium that offline events don’t have? Let’s take a look.

PROBLEM: YOU CAN’T SEE THE AUDIENCE

Is this a PRO or a CON?
For people who get nervous in front of an audience, this aspect of webinars may be helpful. All one need do is speak in front of a safe, little camera. 😉
For myself, I was still aware of an audience watching, but unlike at a live event, I couldn’t read their body language, and this was not a plus. I like to read an audience as I speak. (I’ve never been aware of losing an audience due to boredom, but it’s a good idea to watch for it!) Do they look bored? Is there a lot of fidgeting? (Bad signs.) Or are they furiously scribbling notes and looking as though I’ve sparked ideas? (Good signs.) Webinars can make it challenging to get this sort of live feedback.

SOLUTION: Be sure to leave a comment box open so audience members can chime in, and schedule a time when you ASK them for specific feedback. You might ask, “How am I doing? Are you finding this helpful?” Or, as I asked, “Am I moving too slow or too fast?” Also, have your audience post questions they’d like you to address. Often, the last fifteen minutes of a webinar might be for such Q & A time. The comment box is an important means of connecting with your audience–use it!

POOR SOLUTION: I’ve attended webinars where speakers ask DUH questions and want the audience to give the (only) obvious answer. This is NOT what I recommend doing. It’s an insult to one’s intelligence when people do this, and they are clearly leading their audience by the nose to get them to buy a product, instead of having their best interest at heart and leading them into a great presentation. Ask open-ended questions, or at least, sincere ones.

TIP: When questions come in, jot them down. Either you failed to cover the information, or it’s something you hadn’t considered including. Perhaps you failed to cover it in enough detail. By keeping note of what questions come in, you can improve your next webinar or workshop.

PROBLEM: YOU CAN’T ASK A GROUP QUESTION (RAISE YOUR HAND–PLEASE!)

Just as you can’t see whether your audience is squirming or not, you can’t ask for a raise of hands in response to a question during a webinar. (Well, you can, as you’ll see below; but it’s not a good idea.) I like to open events so people can respond this way–it makes them feel engaged, and that their opinion counts. More importantly, it helps me get to know them. During a webinar, it would be time-consuming to wait for audience responses to come in, so how do you survey your group?

SOLUTION: Create a pre-webinar survey. When attendees register for the event, you send them to the survey, or send the survey to their inbox. My pre-webinar survey gave me even more information than a quick question or two at the start of a live event would have. I was able to use that information to tailor my presentation far more than if I’d gotten it a minute before the workshop opened. This pre-survey tool is really a secret weapon for the presenter. By asking the right questions, you can zero in on the needs of your audience and pack your presentation with value. One free tool is Survey Monkey.

Tip: Don’t just ask questions. USE the information when you create your presentation.

POOR SOLUTION: I’ve attended webinars where the presenter does indeed ask for the virtual “raise of hands.” It never fails to make me fidget, as minutes tick by. Just get to the good stuff, please! (Q&A is different, as the questions and answers are usually pertinent to everyone on the webinar. So do have Q&A–but don’t tally silly votes on things that don’t matter, such as, “How many of you have never watched one of my webinars before? Who cares! I wouldn’t dream of wasting my time answering such a query–or yours, by asking it. Neither should you.)

TIP: I discovered many people don’t want to fill even a two-minute survey. It’s to be expected that not everyone will reply. Nevertheless, to get the best possible response, I found it helpful to reassure people that answers were confidential and anonymous; it also helped to point out that they could benefit most from the webinar by telling me ahead of time what they were most hoping to learn. When they understood that filling the survey was actually empowering for them, responses increased.

PROBLEM: NO “RUBBING ELBOWS”

After a live event, people often come up to me to chat, ask questions, or just share notes about the industry. I cherish this networking time. If I didn’t enjoy rubbing elbows with other writers, I wouldn’t do presentations. So–how do you keep the conversation going with webinar attendees? Once they shut the window to the webinar, the connection’s over, right?

Not Necessarily.

SOLUTION: Just as I would for a live event, I arranged a bonus download that attendees had to sign up to receive. That not only gave me a way to keep the relationship going, but helped grow my mailing list.

TIP: Prepare a bonus PDF (or something else pertinent to your subject) that is truly as helpful as you can make it. Give people a reason to join your list and WANT to stay in touch with you! You should, of course, already have a mailing list for readers–use it for workshop attendees, too. And every time you email your list, offer something of value.

This post is getting long and I don’t want to overstay my welcome! So here’s a few quick pluses that giving webinars can offer.

Income. I earned more from the webinar than I’ve ever earned at a single live event. If you’ve got valuable information, people who need it are willing to pay for it.

Convenience.
I did it from home! No traveling time or expenses, no need to schedule my whole day around the event. Sure, I dressed professionally (as one should for any professional event–don’t be fooled by the ease of the method into behaving anything less than professionally. I recently attended two webinars where a Florida-based Christian businesswoman was dressed more for a stroll on the beach than a business-related presentation. Cover the flesh, ladies!) With convenience comes responsibility.

Worldwide Audience. An online event opens the doors to anyone with computer access. You can draw people from anywhere in the world! Also, if you include a guaranteed replay option, more people can register even if they can’t attend the live presentation.

A Product If you’ve recorded your event, you now have a product that you can give away for free, keep as a perpetual offer on your website, use to attract guests to future webinars or workshops, etc. Done well, it’s a feather in your cap, a building block to your all-important author’s platform, and something to be proud of.

For more tips for writers, join my list!
To Your Success!
Linore


TWEETABLES

Linore
Rose Burkard
 wrote a trilogy of delightful regency romances for the Christian market
before there were any regencies for the Christian market. Published with
Harvest House, her books opened up the genre for the CBA. She  writes
YA Suspense/Apocalyptic fiction as L.R.
Burkard. Linore
grew up in NYC and graduated magna cum
laude
from CUNY with a bachelors in English Literature. A writing workshop instructor, Linore is married with five
children, home-schools her youngest daughter, tolerates one dog and three cats, and drinks far too much coffee.   

 

New fiction! Available Now! 


DEFIANCE: Because sometimes resistance just isn’t enough.

In this third installment of the PULSE
EFFEX SERIES, foreign soldiers and
fellow Americans gone rogue are just the beginning of what Andrea, Lexie and Sarah must face. Beneath the
threat of nuclear strikes and guerrilla armies, the girls long for a free country in which to live–and love. Survival means resistance must give way to defiance. But can ordinary teens and their families withstand powerful forces and keep hope alive?

  

4 Platform Building Lessons from Ephesians – Guest Post by Joan Campbell

Joan Campbell lives in Johannesburg with her husband and daughters. She is inspired by South Africa’s vibrant mix of culture, language, music and folklore. Her country’s history also impacts her writing, with the themes of discrimination and reconciliation woven through her fantasy novels. 

 *** 

I’ll just come right out and admit it. The constant advice to ‘build a platform’ used to irritate me. A lot. I followed it not because I wanted to, but only in the hopes of impressing publishers. 

Once I signed a publishing contract my attitude shifted. With a greater incentive to build an audience interested in my books, I began to pay attention to how other authors tackled this. I saw plenty of creativity, audience engagement, powerful messages and savvy use of social media. 

Inspirational, right? 

 Well…no. Instead, I felt more discouraged and uncertain on how to improve my half-hearted efforts.

That’s when I began to pray about it. I hadn’t ever thought of seeking God’s guidance, mainly because I didn’t think of him as a modern ‘platform guru’. Yet almost immediately I received the direction I sought through a passage from Ephesians 4. These four keys to platform building are changing my outlook, turning something I’ve always done rather resentfully into a joyful part of serving God. 

 Engaging others is part of our calling 

“Therefore I… beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling for you have been called by God.” (Eph. 4:1) 

As a Christian writer, I have a message and ministry from God. I might prefer to huddle over my computer, working only on my manuscripts, but that’s not all God calls me to. He calls us to love others and speak truth into their lives. Our platforms are a powerful tool to do that, be it in the form of a newsletter, blog, Facebook post or speaking engagement. 

Work as a team to build God’s kingdom 

“Always keep yourselves united in the Holy Spirit, and bind yourselves together with peace. We are all one body, we have the same Spirit, and we have all been called to the same glorious future. There is only one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and there is only one God and Father, who is over us all and in us all and living through us all.” (Eph. 4:3-6) 

In the competitive world of publishing, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that—as Christian writers—we are called to build God’s Kingdom. To do that we need to unite and pull together by encouraging and supporting each other, promoting each others’ books and doing all we can to get the message of Christ’s love into the world. We are a team. 

 Let our uniqueness and gifts shine through 

“However, he has given each one of us a special gift according to the generosity of Christ. He is the one who gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.” (Eph. 4:7,11) 

 As much as we are a team, we are also wonderfully unique. We have our own voice, own stories and message, own audience and own spiritual gifts. If our gift is teaching, this will be reflected in our posts and blogs. If it is evangelism or encouragement, that will be the thrust of our messages. Our platforms are not an end in itself, they are an extension of the unique ministry God has for each of us.

 

Be authentic and vulnerable 

 “So put away all falsehood and tell your neighbour the truth because we belong to each other.” (Eph. 4:25) 

In our scramble for attention, it can be easy to project something other than the truth, but God calls us to be honest and authentic in our engagement with people. That is the vulnerable place where the real connection happens between us and our followers/readers, and where our words have the greatest impact. 

Ephesians 4:29 tells us that our words should be an encouragement to those who hear them. I love this verse in The Message, which says our words should be gifts to the world. What an honour that God has given us words to write and speak and share. We need the courage to do this not only in ways comfortable to us, but also in ways that challenge us. Platform building is not about us garnering readers and acclaim. It is about being true to God’s calling to bring words of truth, hope and salvation to the world. 

 (Verses from The New Living Translation) 

 Connect with Joan on her Website, Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter (she says she’s still working on her attitude towards tweets). 

 *** 

 Joan’s Books 

Chains of Gwyndorr is the first book of The Poison Tree Path Chronicles and published by Enclave Publishing. Joan started writing this book after she read The Chronicles of Narnia to her two young daughters and realised the powerful way in which a story can convey redemption. 
Buy it on Amazon

Legends of the Loreteller, the trilogy’s companion book, is a collection of short stories set in Tirragyl, the fantasy world of the The Poison Tree Path Chronicles. 
Available as a FREE DOWNLOAD on Joan’s website 

Encounters: Life Changing Moments with Jesus brings readers face to face with Jesus, through stories from the gospels told in the voice of those Jesus encountered. The book is enhanced with reflections, prayers and art work.

Buy it on Amazon.

* * * * * 

Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author who grew up an Army brat. After twenty-five years of marriage, she and her hunky hero husband have a full life with their children, a Maltese Menace, and a retired military working dog in Northern Virginia. 

Find Ronie online:
     Website: www.roniekendig.com
     Facebook (www.facebook.com/rapidfirefiction)
     Twitter (@roniekendig)
     Goodreads (www.goodreads.com/RonieK)
     Instagram (@kendigronie)
     Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/roniek/)