Awhile back, I did a post on social media. I think Twitter is a two-edged sword. If you’re someone like @BethShope, it can be a great thing because she’s just a class act at all times. If you’re someone like me, it’s probably not so great since I tend to be opinionated. As aspiring, published, or dead writers, we should strive to maintain a certain amount of decorum.
In a writer’s chat a few weeks ago, I finally had to ask one woman what her avatar was. Bear in mind, this woman desperately wants to be published, don’t we all, and she was actively engaging a number of agents. Even after I enlarged the avatar, I wasn’t sure what it was, but it was unappealing.
“That’s my stomach when I was pregnant with my son. I wasn’t sure the tattoo around my navel was going to survive.”
Here’s a hint, avatars are a little thing, but that is the image you are putting out to the world. If you’re a writer, you do things like have a professional email rather than Ihazbigboobs@something.dotcom. You don’t have an automatic signature that says “Proud mommy of Jess, Tess, Fess, Les, Bess, and our weenie dogs Frank and Furter.”
I know it seems like we ought to be able to have fun, but remember, you’re trying to enter a very professional business.
Think about what your avatar says about you.
Here are a few I have used.
This was for international boobquake. Something to do with old hairstyles. Hat day!!!
And the rest are me with Otoes Gold because I miss him. Next is Otoes Gold as a yearling. The horse butts are kind of self-explanatory, but I put them up when I’m in a foul mood and being a horse’s ass. Bonnie McCarroll was a famous lady bronc rider and I love this picture of her because I admire her and I used to ride bucking horses. The last picture is of Ryonstone Cowgirl, who was supposed to be my barrel horse. Beautiful mare we raised out of Five Of Cash, another of our mares. I’ll go back to the bucking horse avatar soon.
Here are a few that are solid brand name avatars. You instantly recognize them and don’t have to wonder who or what they are.
These are graphics that are just fun.
If someone follows me and they have the picture taken with them sitting down rolling their eyes up at the camera, I really want to barf. Princess Diana did it well, 99.9% of other people don’t. It especially doesn’t work when you have your rolled up eyes with what you think is a come hither look and your rolled down boobs with barely covered nipples. You aren’t auditioning for Playboy, you’re trying to present a professional writing image.
Yes, I admit that may be jealousy on my part that the only time I was able to master the rolled up eyes look is after getting bucked off a horse or cow, but trust me on this one.
I know you love your picture of your shaved weenie dog, curled up asleep, but to the rest of the world, it looks like a fetus.
If you’re writing westerns or western romances, you don’t need to run out and buy a cheap straw hat, you know, the ones with the spray painted edges and the rolled up brim so you can wear it and prove you’re a cowgirl writer. Just be yourself. Your roll-your-own hat just makes most of us who do know the west laugh or puke. Neither is a good reaction.
@Kidell is the best example of a “hick-lit” ™ as she calls it, writer. I love her avatars. They are fun, real and professional or funny. Sometimes both!
Here are some women’s avatars I think are well-done using the photo approach.
Kendsy isn’t a writer, but isn’t that a fun avatar? Tina isn’t a writer either, but rather a race car driver!
Here are some men using photos also.
I think Steve’s avatar is really a good one for a writer. It’s a great shot of his face, it has some interesting features, like the dark glasses and it’s professional looking.
Airborne_Ranger and USNAVYSEALS might be eye candy. I mean isn’t that a good head shot and, of course, the beer is what makes the second shot with USNAVYSEALS. Actually, they are both just fun to screw around with and have fun personalities. Yeah, personalities, that’s it.
Cartoons or artistic images work also.
Some people are known by their avatars, and people complain when they change them. That’s kind of a good thing. It means people recognize you in the Twitter world.
What image are you putting out for the world?
This is an interesting post, Julie. I get what you’re saying about some women and the come-hither look and try to be ultra aware of how I present myself.
I had one avatar of a myself where the photo was taken without my knowledge at the time. It was very natural looking, but my hair covered the straps of my dress and it looked like I was topless.
I go back and forth about it, b/c it’s a pensive picture where I look most like myself, but didn’t want to look like I was naked! Interesting thoughts, again.
Great Post Julie – I remember following you for the first time about a day before Boob Quake and wondering- “Uh Oh, who is this?”
I’m flattered! That’s a funny photo because I don’t remember it being taken. My mom gave a framed version to my guy for a Christmas gift. They’re all amused by it because I’m so clearly in the thick of some story, like I usually am. Seems apropos for Twitter…
Great post Julie… and I for one, like it when you sound grouchy and REAL on twitter!
I’ve been trying for weeks to get my avatar up on facebook but keep getting attacked by the freakin whale. For now, I’m just a boring tweet-bird.
I get what you mean about ‘other’ names to tho… I’m one of those people with multiple names. I’m KATT on google, my blog is ROMANCE AND HORSES and I’m MYSTERYHORSE on twitter.
hmm, have to maybe find a way to blend them…
Geez, I just called Twitter Facebook. oops.
Good point. I’ve struggled with finding a good avatar.
Hilarious! And oh so true. I’ve been thinking about rounding up a more current photo for mine. My hair is longer and blonder, and I’ve put on pounds and years. Maybe I’ll stick with what I have. At least it doesn’t look like a Playboy pose. 🙂
Harley, I think the women who are deliberately going for the come-hither look are very obvious. Whether you’re a fan of Princess Di or not, she was a beautiful woman who often was caught in the looking up pose. Whether she did it consciously or not, who knows, but she never gave off that, “omg, I’m so sexy.” You’re an attractive young woman so there’s no need to hide it.
David, HA! Isn’t that sad the raciest picture I have of myself goes all the way to my throat and has long sleeves? Glad you followed me and didn’t give up.
Jeffe, it’s an awesome and natural picture. I love it. I wish more people would go with fun, natural pictures.
Katt, it’s kind of fun to switch around. As for being the horse’s ass, well, I’m sure it hurts me with some people. Hopefully I will find an agent who adores me for me, not what I could be when I clean up.
As for the name, that has to be something you only can decide. The upside of using your own name is agents, readers, editors become accustomed to you.
The down side, if you have an attitude, like me, that can work against you.
Who knows what the perfect answer is.
Tara, I think it doesn’t have to be something hard, but it might be part of the branding process. Janet Reid is a shark. Beth Shope is the river frozen in stone. Kari Dell switches hers around, but it’s usually something to do with country.
I think the one you have works quite well.
Susan, yours is just right. I don’t know why you’d want to mess with it. I hate pictures of me, so I’m more comfortable with the horses.
I am bothered by obvious 80s glamour shots, as well. But when it came to finding one for me, it was a matter of finding a picture that I could use that didn’t make me want to barf. I found two, I think. One on twitter and one on facebook.
Nice to meet you on twitter last night!
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Planetpooks, it’s hard. If you’re a writer you want to have something that isn’t too risque, unless that’s what you’re going for I suppose. It was nice meeting you also.
Hey! Loved this post on avatars. I think it’s interesting how much an avatar can say about a person. Mine used to be a closeup portrait, but I changed it to an opal because they’re symbolic to me and in my writing. I loved your horse bucking avatar! Horse’s sure have that human spirit, don’t they? Or maybe we have horse spirit? 😉
Either way, I wanted to let you know you won a 10-page critique from yours truly over at the Operation Awesome blog: http://operationawesome6.blogspot.com/ Congratulations! I look forward to reading whatever you send. Happy weekend!