Today we’re going to talk about your author photo. This is the photo that is listed in the back of your book by your “About the Author” section. Author photos are by all means not required. But having one will certainly help put a face to a name. It will also make you more approachable to your readers and if you use the same photo throughout your social media accounts and your various author profiles (Goodreads, Amazon’s Author Center) then it will help your readers know that the various accounts you’ve set up are exactly who they’re looking for.
The best way to ensure you look the greatest you possibly can is to hire a photographer for your photo. However, this will add yet another cost to your publishing expenses. All you really need to do is get your hands on a decent camera (whether it be a smartphone or an actual camera) and some light photo editing software (maybe not even that if you’re able to capitalize on the lighting and the scenery). For my photo, I used my Mac and iPhoto and produced a decent picture I’m happy with. That’s the important part. We’re self-published authors for a reason: we can do whatever we want. If you want to use the candid of yourself in your PJs and a Santa hat from last Christmas, go for it. You may lose a few sales, but maybe you’ll gain some more as a result of showing off your personality proudly?
Some basic guidelines I suggest:
- No obvious selfies. This isn’t Facebook. Your author photo should not be from a bird’s-eye view and you certainly should not be sporting a duck face. Also, you shouldn’t stand in the bathroom mirror. Nobody wants to see the phone in your hand or the hair straightener and face wash littering your bathroom sink. Ask a friend to help you snap a few shots of yourself. Maybe you’ll be able to show some genuine smiles as a result?
- Your photo should showcase how you want your readers to perceive you. Do you want to be taken seriously? Do you want to show off your rad mohawk? Do you want to show that you’re a family (wo)man? This is your opportunity to add some creativity and some personality into your persona. But be careful. The photo should clearly show who you are.
- Make sure you’re happy with your photo. Are you proud to put your author photo at the back of your book/all over the internet? You should be. Your photo might not make you think, “Damn, I look good!” but it shouldn’t make you cringe whenever you see it.
Like I said, the author photo isn’t necessary, and having a really bad one may hurt sales. So be smart. Play around with it and ask for some opinions on some final options.