Monday, January 28, 2013

The Importance of a Professional Author Photo


Maybe you’ve come across author’s pictures that have you responding with, ‘really?’  I know I’ve found them.  You know the ones, the author isn’t smiling, the author is in their house near a Christmas tree, the author isn’t looking at the camera, the author is drinking a glass of wine, and the one that really inspired me on the importance of this post--one where the picture was taken in the author’s washroom!  I kid you not.  In the background was the sink and the towel bar.  Seriously?

How can authors be viewed as professional when they don’t present themselves that way?  The simple answer: they can’t be. 

The author photo is the only representation of your physicality you have to show your readers.  Your author photo is your brand and has a bearing on how readers view you.

Think about it this way, if there wasn’t an author photo, one is left wondering who the person is behind the words.  Personally, I like seeing what an author looks like.  In some way, it connects me more to them.  However, when I come across poor photos, it can have the opposite effect on me.  If they don’t take their image seriously, why should I take their writing that way?

What makes for a good author photo?  Here are a few basics:  

1) Hire a professional photographer if possible.  Don’t have a friend snap a pose while you’re standing in skis on the side of a mountain.  If you’re wanting to connect with your readers on a more personal level, and if does tastefully, these pictures could be shared on your website.  Maybe your novel is about skiing, another of your passions.  It could find an appropriate place on your site, but it shouldn’t be your main author photo.  Don’t post pictures that have you drinking or smoking--not professional.

For example, while I use my main author picture for branding, I share some more personal shots on my website here.

2) Dress respectfully and professionally.   This involves common sense and doesn’t necessarily mean a business suit.  Smart causal tends to work best.  Ask yourself, do I look like someone I’d want to do business with?

3) Relax, face the camera, and smile.   Don’t give me a “stink face” or a studious expression.  This can come across as you being unhappy.  Express your confidence.  Let yourself shine. 

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Watch my sites for a new author picture coming out in the next couple of months.