I’m a loyal guy, okay?
I use the same brand of toothpaste I used as a kid, use the same shampoo, and until recently, used the same soap. (I switched soaps. It was tough saying goodbye to Safeguard but it had to be done. I don’t wanna talk about it.)
I drive a 1998 Lincoln Navigator.
I love that car! It fits everything. Kids for field trips (so I can meet my daughter’s classmates and invite the good ones over to play). Plants from Home Depot (even though our house is where green things go to die).
It’s super comfortable. I mean, it’s like driving around on your sofa. And it’s black, so if you are driving behind another black one, people think it’s a presidential motorcade. Which means they’ll pull over in traffic. That’s handy.
And it’s been paid off for a long time, too, which is reeeeeeally nice.
Do the math. It’s now 2016, and that car rolled off the assembly line almost two decades ago.
I never had a car that long before. I always saw a newer, cooler, swankier model and traded up.
And had a bigger payment…
I had a classic 1968 convertible mustang in high school, a Firebird in college, a red Alfa Romeo Spyder convertible in grad school (I’ll say it: chick magnet – so was the Mustang but I was too innocent in high school to do anything about that then), a Plymouth Laser (0-60 in 6.6 seconds; had to buy a lot of tires for that one) and a Toyota MR6 convertible (strangely not a chick magnet, but an almost-Porsche, so maybe that’s why).
I had some not-so-great cars, too. The Mercedes 500 convertible. Here’s a tip: when you buy a car that retails for upwards of $100,000, expect all the maintenance to be based on a $100,000 car – as in, REALLY expensive. And when your wife drives over a wet bag of mulch some trucker dropped on the highway that does some indiscriminate damage under the chassis, the repairs are so high you’ll want to sell it rather than drive it ever again. Nice car, but we were afraid to move it after that. I saw dollar signs flying out of my wallet every time we went anywhere, worse than the boat we owned. It had to go.
And somewhere in there is when the Navigator came into our lives. Not to be confused with my book of a similar name, The Navigators (buy it HERE on Amazon FREE on KU),
the big old V-8 is a beast, in a good way. And now, almost 20 years later, it still is. There’s a general understanding that it’s next major repair lands it in the scrap yard and we go get a new vehicle, but still. My wife drives a Chrysler 300 convertible, so she may get that BMW she’s been wanting and I’ll inherit the 300, but we will still feel the need for an SUV… plants have to be procured in a big rig, after all.
All of which leads me to AUTHOR PICTURES. And yes, you needed that car information to fully understand my dilemma.
Again, I’m a loyal guy. I’ve stayed with this author picture for a while now:
It’s like my car. It does the job, and it’s not fancy about it.
One of my author friends said it doesn’t look like me. That’s… kind of a problem. I asked my wife. She agreed.
Um… I think it looks like me. It IS me. It was taken with my then three-year-old daughter around Christmas time.
See? I just cropped her out of it and made it black and white.
And she may have been two, not three, so maybe it was four years ago…
But I still look at it and see me. And bad hair. And a shirt that doesn’t really fit. And a few extra pounds. And I really needed a haircut, but I was worried about getting one so close to holidays and looking bad in the Christmas pictures. Which I did by not getting a haircut.
Okay, so what DO I look like?
Well, I look like THIS when I do Writers Off Task With Friends , our author-based interview show on YouTube:
I look good when I get cleaned up, don’t I? And the poor camera quality fuzzes out my wrinkles!
And I look like this at other times:
But those aren’t exactly author pictures, are they?
I was thinking for my upcoming romance, Poggibonsi: An Italian Misadventure, I’d go sexy:
But that’s not necessarily what I want on other books. Or do I?
And that brings me back to author image and freaking loyalty!!!
It’s branding. You want a GOOD picture that people identify with you year after year after year. Like Coca Cola and Ford.
Don’t you? Or do you wanna let each book be a little different while still being the same? More you and more interesting, but still the person they know? For example, my yellow shirt pic, maybe cropped?
Or in black and white?
Beats me. Stephen King doesn’t use the same image every time. Dear Abby used the same one for 40 years. Who’s right?
I stayed with the old pic because it was one I liked – me and my daughter – not because I looked good or because it created an impression.
But it did. It says here’s an approachable nice guy.
BUT IT DOESN’T LOOK LIKE ME?
And what about The Navigators (the book, not the car)? I think that black and white pic would have been fine on its cover. Compare:
Damn, maybe my current pic doesn’t look like me.
Okay, so here’s what’s gonna happen. I’m gonna see about a new pic and post it here or on Facebook or maybe both, and let you guys vote. I should get my friend the photographer to do it, too, so it looks professional, but that seems like a lot of work. Either way, as much as I like the old pic, there comes a time when… you need to consider making a change.
And I think my fans will roll with it.
What do YOU think? Can yellow shirt me work?
Dan Alatorre (left) is the author of several bestsellers and the amazingly great sci fi action thriller “The Navigators.” Click HERE to get your copy of The Navigators – FREE on Kindle Unlimited!
He is also debating an updated author pic.
Among other things.