UPDATED: choosing an appropriate author photo for a flyer

Thank you, you did it! You voted for the most appropriate author photo for a flyer. The verdict in the end was clear: the CHEERFUL selfie got 10 votes, the DAZED (aka WRY) selfie got 8 votes, WINDY got 6 and a half, and all the others had a few fans except for poor DUBIOUS.

I have used the winning author photo in a real flyer for a real house concert in Christchurch next month. That’s a private event, of course—I can’t show you that flyer.

But as a by-product I’ve made a draft flyer for similar gigs in the future, and I can share that one. (I just love the communal experience of reading in a private home and I hope for plenty more.)

Flyer for a house concert using a selfie and PowerPoint

Draft flyer for a house concert poetry reading: Rachel McAlpine holding a book, text on left
Making a flyer with PowerPoint: easy peasy

Feel free to copy this process

I’ve made a lot of flyers over the last 50-odd years and this is one of the easiest processes I know. Some of you may find it useful—hope so.

  1. Choose a suitable image without copyright issues: mine as you know was a selfie.
  2. Open PowerPoint and plonk the selfie anywhere on the first slide.
  3. Add the text you want in a couple of text boxes.
  4. Check the Design Ideas and find one that appeals.
  5. Tinker with the slide until it looks OK to you.
  6. View the slide in Slide Show and take a screenshot: that’s your flyer.
  7. Voila! You’re done.

For the record, the author photos

Here’s what I asked you to do, and you did it! Voting was rapid, unregulated, unreliable and non-representative, and I’m not blaming the Russians.

  • Please tell me which photo(s) would attract you to one of my gigs (if it was possible).
  • I do not wish to look solemn or poetical: the title is quite enough to terrify people without me appearing to be floating in realms of poesy.
  • I want to convey that the event will be fun and funny as well as meaningful.

Will you please give your unvarnished, uncensored opinions. I can take it—been working on my abs. Trust me, I want the truth so don’t hold back. Here we go. Nine photos, at last count.

Cheerful — the winner

Cheerful woman holding a bright yellow and pink book called How To Be Old,Poems by Rachel McAlpine
I’m smiling as I hold this bombshell of a book, How To Be Old. I wonder why.

Dazed — close second

Dazed woman holding a bright yellow and pink book called How To Be Old,Poems by Rachel McAlpine
Dazed at the reception this book has had. It must be the cover.

Dubious—not a single vote went to this gorgeous portrait

I’m dubious. Why would anyone buy a book with such a title?

Fey—3 votes

Poet gazing into the heavens while holding a book called How To Be Old, poems by Rachel McAlpine
I said I wouldn’t do this but here I am looking all poetical. Don’t vote for this one.

Oh no!—one vote

Worried woman holding a bright yellow and pink book called How To Be Old, Poems by Rachel McAlpine
But surely this doesn’t apply to me! Oh no, I’ll never be old. Or will I?

Over the top—2 votes

Woman pulls an ugly face while holding a bright yellow and pink book called How To Be Old,Poems by Rachel McAlpine
One way to be old is to go the whole hog.

Shocked—one and a half votes

Shocked woman holding a bright yellow and pink book called How To Be Old, Poems by Rachel McAlpine
How dare that woman presume to tell me how to be old! Butt out, you so-called poet.

Tragic (just kidding)—one and a half votes

Old woman pretending to be tragic while holding a bright yellow and pink book called How To Be Old,Poems by Rachel McAlpine
Poets are supposed to be tragic figures, I believe. This is me putting on a tragic face.

Windy—6 and a half votes

Dishevelled woman holding a bright yellow and pink book called How To Be Old, Poems by Rachel McAlpine
Well, I live in Windy Wellington, and this is our local hair style

Thank you for a clear message about author photos

Thank you my friendly followers and random readers! This was a serious exercise in customer research: you were my focus group.

Voting is closed

But I have been thinking about the wider implications of your choices. I’ll write about that another time…

42 thoughts on “UPDATED: choosing an appropriate author photo for a flyer

  1. I like the Tragic photo. With that face, I’d love to hear what you have to say. There is nothing wrong with the top of your head, is there?

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Oh how funny. I mean tragic. I was mainly concerned with getting the whole cover in the photo. I forgot about my head. No, I think it’s pretty normal as heaad-tops go.

      1. I’m so glad you haven’t lost your head.

  2. You could do a flip book flyer or a montage using all of them! Otherwise, I like the cheerful one – although “shocked” is appealing too.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Now there’s a thought…

  3. Lesley Evans says:

    My fave is Dazed. It’s got elements of challenge and mystery and mischief. Irresistible!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      I like the composition, bisecting the face.

  4. Sadje says:

    Cheerful, fey, and the last one.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thanks Sadie. Almost no agreement so far!

      1. Sadje says:

        I think they all are good. You’re such a wonderful person, full of life that any or all of them will work.

      2. Rachel McAlpine says:

        Oh Sadie!

      3. Sadje says:


  5. Jill says:

    And to confuse you all I like Oh No and Windy but agree most of the others would be just fine.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      So much fun to see this total lack of consensus! And yet there is one message coming through…

  6. toutparmoi says:

    I’m voting for Shocked.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      And I’m opening Excel.

  7. Anne Else says:

    I really like the last one, Windy! And then the first one. But the Windy one has both character and charm and is very appealing.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      I am thinking each photo is gathering a fan club.. And soon they’ll all be appointing their own campaign managers….

  8. Nyla Carroll says:

    Cheerful 🤗 We all need more of that and you have it in spades 😁

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:


  9. Marita says:

    Dazed and Windy do it for me. You are fab!

  10. Mr. Wapojif says:

    All first rate! I’ll go with OTT as that’s always a tough pose to get right. 10/10. Congrats.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Finally OTT has a voter! It had to be you, doododoodododooo…

  11. Cathy Cade says:

    Nor being one to commit myself, I like Cheerful, Dazed and Windy – I think you might get fed up with the others over time. Possibly Windy by a whisker.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Interesting… I’m starting to see wider implications in this poll.

  12. hilarymb says:

    Hi Rachel – I’d go with cheerful too … good luck! Hilary

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      We all just wanna be cheerful?

  13. Windy, without a doubt!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Aha, Welly is the place to be!

  14. Meryl says:

    Dazed does it for me, followed by tragic.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      I’m counting first choices as a one, also-rans as a half.

  15. alison41 says:

    Such a fun post. Windy, Cheerful and Fey are my faves.

  16. Dazed is my favorite!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      A popular choice 🙂

      1. Not surprised:)

  17. Beth A Rubin says:

    I like Cheerful. It feels the most authentic and not like a caricature of an old lady who actually wrote a book. I don’t like feeling that as older women we are minimized or ridiculed. Some of those pictures look like you are trying to beat others to the punch. Sorry, you asked for unvarnished opinionsn.

  18. anne leueen says:

    I like dazed.It has a cheeky humor to it that suits the title.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Dazed and cheerful are neck and neck.

  19. Elizabeth says:

    I loved Dazed. I have watched your readings and I think it captures a wry side of you that I really enjoy.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Wry is the word, I think.

  20. I like cheerful, as this is you to a T! Always upbeat, cheerful and inspirational. X

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Right, Maggie, your comment seals the deal. Cheerful is the winner followed closely by Dazed. So I’m revising this article right now!