Having a really good author photo is especially important because anywhere between 600,000 and a million books are published each year. That’s a lot of competition. Even if you’re a phenomenal writer, you still want to do everything you can to increase your chances of a potential buyer noticing your book. While you may think of the author photo as just the small square image inside your book, there are many other uses of your photo that you probably haven’t considered.
In this blog, I’ll explain why author photos are important and give you some tips on making sure you put your best foot — or in this case your face — forward.
Why do I need an author photo?
Some people just don’t like having their photo taken. I completely understand those people because I’m one of them. However, there are some things in life that you simply can’t avoid, and this is one of them. Creating your brand is one of the most important elements in creating a successful career as an author. Your photo is a part of that branding. You don’t have to have a bunch of photos of yourself, but I do recommend having a few options in the event you’re asked to provide photos for a podcast interview. You also need a photo for your social media platforms and website.
While you can use one image for your social media, I do think it’s beneficial to have a couple of options so that people get to see other photos of you. I also suggest that you should have your photo updated if you feel that your appearance has changed significantly enough where the image no longer accurately reflects who you are now.
Things to consider for your author photo
1.) Location or studio: Sometimes it makes sense to do a location shoot. For example, if a street photographer were publishing their work, he/she might want their portrait to show the city landscape. Another advantage with location shoots is that it’s very easy to create different looks. Using a studio also has its advantages. The photographer can control the lighting and you don’t have to worry about crowds or people accidentally getting into your shots. There’s no right or wrong answer. It’s a simply a matter of preference.
2.) Wardrobe: Avoid wearing brand names or patterns. I always tell clients to wear what makes them feel good. Because I’m a photographer, I can pick up on people’s comfort level very easily. People’s eyes say a lot, and so I do whatever I can to help people feel more comfortable in front of the camera.
When you go to your photoshoot, bring a couple of options in case something doesn’t work. I also recommend communicating with your photographer on what colors you’ll be wearing so they’ll be prepared. Clashing colors are extremely distracting to anyone’s portrait.
3.) Makeup and hair: This part mostly applies to women. We normally expect people to be a bit more dressed up in their professional headshot, but you don’t want to go overboard. I learned this lesson in my author photo for my first book, Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits. I worked with an incredible photographer and her makeup artist, who I had work with in the past. Because I’ve been in the performing arts since I was three years old, I’m used to wearing a lot of makeup and changing my appearance. The makeup artist did a beautiful job, but I was definitely wearing a lot more makeup than I usually wear on a day-to-day basis. As a result, sometimes people will see my author photo and give me a look. Personally, I think it’s a bit rude, but that’s human nature for you. There’s no right answer, but it’s something that you should keep in mind when you have your portrait taken.