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Thursday, June 3, 2010

An Author's Image

As the NYC Pitch & Sell Conference approaches I've been thinking a lot about an author's image, mine in particular. What am I going to wear to the conference? How should I do my hair? What should I take with me? All of that reflects who I am. First impressions can make or break you, especially in a situation like this and I'm acutely aware of that as I rifle through my wardrobe. Those of you who have attended a conference know just how much stress this can cause. Should you worry about your appearance? Yes and no.

You are who you are and the agent or publisher isn't buying into you, they're buying into your work. Ah but wait, now days an author doesn't get to sit around the house in a pair of comfy sweats, drink coffee, and write their life away. Don't worry, there's much of that to be done, but an author has to wear more hats now than ever before. Publishers are doing less and less promotion. That is falling to the author more every day. You'll be doing book signings, book readings, speaking at conferences, retreats, and book related events. Anymore it isn't just your book the publisher is investing in, it's you as well.

The industry is getting tougher. Fewer books are being picked up and fewer writers are finding agents. You have to stand out. Not just your book but your image must be something they think they can sell. How often do your hear, 'build your writer's platform now'? All the time. That's why so many of us blog, to connect with others and build that platform. While image may not be about what you wear to the conference or how you style your hair, it is about how you come across online. Always be aware of that and know that someday what you say on line could be seen by an agent or publisher considering you.

Needless to say, I won't be wearing my sweat pants or even blue jeans. I'll be ironing my best business casual outfits, gathering everything I need to take in a presentable package, and putting my best foot forward (which will not be clad in my hiking boots). I don't feel like I'm misrepresenting myself by doing this. I have a business side and this is the time when it needs to come out. While writing can be a hobby or pastime, becoming an author is a business, one I intend to be very successful at. And you know what they say about success, dress for it!

16 comments:

  1. What I say online matters?? Uh-Oh Just kidding! :)

    Seriously, BEST OF LUCK at the conference! We're rooting for you and I know you'll do well.

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  2. Aw, thank you so much Lisa! You're good luck means a lot to me!

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  3. The way an author represents him/herself in real honest-to-gosh public is very important. While writing a book you can dress and behave as you like, but that pitch--and those moments at the conference restaurant and bar might as well all be part of a job interview.

    Dressing professionally, being self-assured(even when you're scared witless) is necessary. I can be a bit of a goof around my editor and some of the staff I'm starting to get to know at my publishing house, but the person my family lives with is not allowed out the hotel door at a conference without looking "together."

    BUT. Publishers are still buying stories first, personalities second (you have to be able to communicate well with an editor, after all), and physical presence third (or further down the line).

    You'll. Do. Fine.

    Know your pitch and your story inside and out and (I've heard several people suggest this) have another pitch ready to go in case the first one's a quick pass but the person your pitching may have time for something else.

    You can do it!
    ~Shannon

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  4. Heather, this is excellent! Looks are more important than even we realize. There are so many studies about how success and the way you present yourself on the outside partner together. I attended my first writers' conference earlier this year, and I wrote about this very thing in my blog: http://embracetheimpossible.blogspot.com/2010/03/how-i-prep-for-my-first-writers.html. I didn't go as a writer but as faculty, and I still had to think about how I presented myself to writers and to my peers. Of course, knowing your stuff is crucial, but there are things we can do outwardly to invite people into our world in order to share the "stuff" that's so important to us.

    Best of luck at your conference and thanks for being so transparent about your preparations.

    Jevon

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  5. Oh . . . I'd be shoooooopppppppiinnnngggg.

    But seriously, saw your post over at my blog, I'll be thinking of you. When is this gonna happen, so I can send out beautiful, positive vibes into the cosmos?

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  6. Yes! Image is a piece of that first impression. Writing is a profession, so we need to look like professionals. Good luck! I know you'll do great. :-)

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  7. Shannon, thank you so much for your confidence and the great tip on having a second pitch ready to go just in case! I'm going to start putting that together now. Much love!

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  8. Jevon, thank you for your kind words and the great link. I'll be sure to check out it out! In fact, I'm copying and pasting it right now...

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  9. Ah Lorelei, you know me so well. Shopping is exactly what I was doing yesterday! The conference is the 24th~27th of this month. Getting closer!

    Thanks Shannon O, you're right first impressions can be everything... No pressure huh?!

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  10. Thank you Heather! Oh... I wish I had read this before I hopped on the plane! lol. I have sweats! No... just kidding. My packing was a challenge heading directly on my trip. Maybe I'll just wear my uniform! :)
    Thank you so much for such great advice!!!
    Karlene

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  11. Heather, your approach is spot-on. Did you know that communication less about what you say, than how you say it and how you look. Publishing is a business, and it's important to let those in the industry see us as professionals. You are going to do great at your conference, because you have a great product--your book--and a very professional attitude. I'll be sending you white light the whole time.

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  12. This was just the post I was looking for today! Thanks :-) Wishing you luck as you prepare and pack for your conference in NYC! I can't wait to hear the scoop.

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  13. You crack me up Karlene! Considering what your book is about I think your uniform might be the perfect thing to wear. Talk about authenticity and knowing your subject!

    Jule, thank you! With all the white light you wonderful ladies are sending me I'll be glowing during my pitch.

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  14. I didn't realize until after I put up today's post just how perfect the timing is. That must mean that even though I don't get to go to Tulsa with you ladies, I'm still on the same wave length! Good luck to all of you, I know you're going to have a great time and do fantastic with your pitches!

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  15. I say always look professional, after all, you want to do this as a career! Show that you mean business!

    I know what you mean about closet shopping for what to wear Heather. I've been going through my wardrobe to pick out what I should
    wear to RWA. Went shopping for a few things like a good pair of dress-y shoes and a couple good tops, I have nice dress pants after buying some for the Hawaii writers conference last year.

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  16. Yep, I'm putting together my business casual attire and trying not to forget to bring my novel too! LOL! Seriously though, if anything I'll probably be over prepared. Like you I have quite a bit of business wear from going to the Hawaii conference.

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