Monday, 19 March 2012

Sealed With A Click




‘So,’ says the very kind photographer. ‘I can use this lens to take soft-focus pictures, or this lens to make you look thinner.’

Urgh. The reality of this book-publicising business is hitting home. My novel, The Making of Her, will be published in April. My marketing efforts have resulted in a local magazine requesting a Q & A interview and a ‘good photograph’. The interview I can manage. The photograph, not. So a friend introduced me to another friend, and here I am with Jon Leavins, a delightful man who has courageously offered to commit my image to pixels. Little does he know that photographs generally feature me with a) eyes clamped shut and mouth wide open in a ghastly chasm or b) looking stern, angst-ridden and wistful (aka very, very old indeed).

I had a bit of a moment in the run-up to The Day Of The Photo. I found myself leaning desperately over my bathroom basin. Not throwing up - though that would be understandable - but hacking at my hair with rough scissors in an effort to look more presentable. I managed to divest myself of about three inches, though the back eluded me. I hope people will see it as a new fashion in coiffure.

Talking of fashion, the what-do-I-wear problem raised its ugly head. I resolutely ignored it until about ten minutes before the session and then threw on comfort clothes. Bad enough to be wearing make-up – I mean, mascara. This resulted in five minutes of panda eyes and weeping as my contact lenses screamed protest. And let me tell you, concealer doesn’t conceal. It merely highlights the bags.

‘Where would you like to pose?’ asks Jon, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
I dismiss my preferred answer (‘behind the nearest large building’) and while I’m thinking, he suggests that we try a beautiful old Georgian crescent nearby. Good idea, I reply. The readers will be fascinated by the ancient, crumbling structure – and the crescent looks interesting too.

My contribution to the shoot is to suggest that I pose propped against a large pillar-box, in the hope that I will go unnoticed beside all that glaring red.

‘I s’pose,’ says Jon diplomatically, ‘it gives you the air of a Lady of Letters.’

Suddenly, I’m learning something very important: writers are happiest when they’re indoors, clicking away at the keyboard. Authors, it seems, must pretend to look happy out in the street whilst being clicked at by a camera. Authors have to be visible.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m overjoyed at being able, after decades of rejection, to call myself an author. I’m so grateful, in fact, that I’m willing to subject myself to much, much more humiliation. Not from agents this time, but from the media. At least agents (eventually) reply, so you know where you are (rejected). But let me tell you, without Max Clifford batting for you, the majority of national newspapers and magazines simply ignore you. Then you have to decide whether to risk being labelled as a Literary Stalker by following up your request for a review, or just give up.

The photographic session is over. We are both looking somewhat bedraggled. Jon hurries off to his photo-shopping and airbrushing and what-not. But before he goes I have one very important question to ask.

‘Erm, this photo of me with the pillar box… Did you use the ‘make-you-look-thinner’ lens?’

He shakes his head. HE ACTUALLY SHAKES HIS HEAD.

I think we could call this a result.


www.clikpic.com/jleavins

19 comments:

Derek said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Derek said...

Bravo! Your posts have been a real eye-opener into both the external and internal journeys from writing The End to getting a book out there in the world. PR needs an angle, so why not invent one?!

I think a caption or 'What is Susie thinking in the photo?' competition is in order. And having just received a magazine rejection after a record-breaking 16 months, she could be channelling my subconscious!

Deb said...

Lovely photo,(and post) Suzie! I know exactly what you mean. When I had to have a pubicity photo for an article I spent hours trying to get everything just right. When the photographer arrived he told me my 'slimming' attire of 'woman in black' was not suitable and did I have anything in yellow? Yellow? Er...no. Balck, grey, various hues of beige, yes, but yellow - no. I had to borrow my daughter's yellow vest top which in my opinion made me look like an over ripe banana!
Congratulations on your book. Look forward to reading it.

Rin said...

Haha, a fantastically funny post. I completely sympathise - I've had plenty of aweful pics published in the papers over the years since starting out as a journo, and it never gets any easier, sadly. But you do look absolutely lovely (and very slim!) so at least it was worth it in the end.

Rosy T said...

Yay on the interview, Susie. And it's a gorgeous photo!

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Thanks, all! :)
Derek, someone's suggested I look like I've posted my flat keys in the box by mistake and am waiting for the postman!
16 months is ridiculous.
Debs, I sympathise - you must've felt like a wasp!
Susiex

Gillian McDade said...

Great blog, Susie! It made me smile. And I love the photo!
G x

Derek said...

Susie, I think the photograph makes you look sassy.

Helen Black said...

I've still never forgiven HarperCollins for my author pic in my very first novel.
For some odd reason I am holding up a tree!
HB x

Roderic Vincent said...

Lovely photo, Susie, you look great. I am still so excited that you are an author.

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Aw, thanks, everybody!
Helen, we are the Atlases of the literary world...
Susiex

Debs Riccio said...

Love it Suzie - fab post, great photo! (who's your friend with the red all-in-one and white bib?)

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Wouldn't you like to know, Debs? He asked me to 'post' about him...
Sorry.
Susiex

Anna May said...

Ah, THE photo, always a scourge. Very funny post.
For my book launch a photographer took me on location around Blackfriars in a whipping wind and kept telling me to look relaxed even though he couldn't see my face because my hair was blowing in front of it each time he clicked.
3 hours, 400 shots, and not one of them any good.
Anna May Mangan

Susie Nott-Bower said...

400 shots?!? Anna May, that sounds like torture. And maybe the hair-blowing-across-face thing could be good - keep a bit of mystery, is what I say...
Susiex

Caroline Green said...

I think you look gorgeous there Susie! Although I am completely thrown by you having different hair colour to my mental image (blonde, for some reason...)

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Tee hee, Caroline! My hair changes a LOT. My old pix feature me with a blonde spiky bob, my author pic shows me with long dark hair and this current one is more red. Identity problems...

Geraldine Ryan said...

Susie you look like someone born to it. Stunning!

Julia said...

Brilliant post, Susie. And i love the photo (and of course you don't need the 'look thinner' lens)
jxx