Not long ago, I signed one of my books for a friend. As he received it back from me, he turned to the back cover and pointed to my photo.
“Who’s that?” he asked.
He used to be a friend.
So the book had been out for a few years, but truth be told (not that I’ve been lying up to now), the photo could have been more current. Much more.
You may not age like I do (with the speed of a hare and grace of a tortoise), but let me take this opportunity to suggest that a new year is a great time to take a new author photo for use not only on the back covers of all of the books you’ll be selling and publishing but also for your book proposals’ author section, website, blog, social media, speaking-engagement announcements, article blurbs, and so on.
So let me offer you five tips for your new author photo:
- Take the very affordable ($6), forty-five-minute video course “10 Photo Secrets for Bestselling Authors,” found on the Christian Writers Institute site. That will set you up for success as well as (or better than) I can.
- Don’t use a “snapshot.” You don’t have to spend a fortune, but your author photo should be professional in appearance, if not in expense. Don’t just crop out your wife or cat from an existing photo; have a quality headshot taken by someone who knows how. (Some writers conferences offer affordable photo sessions. Do it. They’re more than worth it.)
- Ditch the pipe. Or book. Or pet. Seriously, most props are a bad idea.
- Let your headshot reflect your personality and professionalism—and, in some cases, what you write. If you write intense suspense novels, you may not want to be laughing in your author photo. On the other hand, if you write humor, you probably should smile. On the third hand, if you write slasher fiction, don’t use the axe-in-head motif. It’s been done.
- Think ahead. Yes, we all do get older as time goes by. That can’t be helped. But don’t think only of the immediate uses for your photo; think of how it might be used months, even years from now. Will it soon look out-of-date? Will you wish it had been a higher resolution? Will you wish you had more than one pose? Will your handlebar mustache still be as cool?
Now, before you go looking at my author photo for guidance, let me beg you not to. Just like you, I really need to get crackin’ on a new author photo for this new year.