How Important is a Great Author Photo?

06 Dec

Look Great in Your Author Photo: Key element to design your author photo: Quality

If you’re not seen as a professional,  you will be seen as an amateur.  Professional authors have professionally taken profile photos. This is immensely important for any author – no matter what genre you write. You can’t use a Facebook photo, not even a high quality wedding image that you might have cropped to show only your head.  Or a snapshot with a cluttered background, out of focus image, and an unflattering and uninteresting picture.  Even worse:  Party or holiday photos with several persons, or with your dog or toddler. To top it: some authors show instead of a portrait or head shot an image of their dog, cat or their car.  I cringe every time I see these images
used on Twitter or Google+.  Don’t forget:  Literary Agents and Publishers are on these Social Media sites too.  And you never get a second chance for a first good impression!

Every Author Needs a Professional Head Shot.
If you promote yourself and your book, you will need one and a photo can do wonders in terms of giving you credibility or establishing trust. The prices for these photos are varying a lot, it depends on the location, on the experience of the photographer, on his or her popularity etc.  The honorary can vary from less than $100 to thousands.

An Author Photo is an Important Piece of Your Brand.
If you have a photo you like, you can use it for years – and use it everywhere, not only on your books, but also in articles, promo material or your avatar for Social Media. When people see it, they will think of you and of your writing.  Have a look at the famous photos of people like JK Rowling or Stephen King and how they convey so much at a glance. Pick your photographer by looking at the photographer’s web site and if possible meeting him or her before you decide having him/her as your portraitist.

A Book’s Back Cover Will Often Include the Author’s Photo.
On a hard cover, the photo and bio are often placed on the back flap, while the books back cover is used for blurbs and reviewer comments. Paperbacks typically have the sales copy, an author photo and brief bio all on the back cover.  Get both: a black and white glossy print and a full color cover. It’s important to realize that your author picture is for a different purpose than any photo you have ever had taken.  Its main objective is to sell you as the expert.

Have it Done by a Professional!
This part of your “brand” will present you to the world via social media, book jackets, etc. If you have a photographer friend who will do it for free or at a discount, all the better.  Ask the photographer to give you both versions digitally: in TIFF for print and in jpeg for the web, and also preferably in several sizes, if you are not an expert in Photoshop or other image programs.

Make Sure the Photo Reflects YOUR Personality.
Have your expression match your personality. For instance, if you are considered a pretty upbeat person and you are usually smiling, a pout would look ridiculous. The author photo needs to give the viewer a good sense of the persona of the author and, most of all, be close up enough that the face is almost format-filling. It should also be a well-composed and an effective photograph of high-resolution quality.

In this cyber-over-exposed world, your photo may stay with you for a very, very long time.  Ask yourself how you want to be seen by the world…

Get More Tips from a Photographer




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2 responses to “How Important is a Great Author Photo?

  1. S.D. Kreuz

    December 6, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Great post. Something I’ve never thought about, but definitely true. Thanks!

  2. D.G.Kaye

    December 6, 2013 at 11:57 pm



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