A number of questions were raised when I wrote about the “bio” portion of a book proposal and suggested that you include an author photo. Here are some practical considerations.
Make it Look Professional
Quality photographers will tell you that background, lighting, how you look at the camera, and what you are wearing have a great influence on how the photo appears.
I once saw an author photo taken with a phone camera from about 20 feet away. The author was standing across the street and was obscured by the shadows of the nearby tree.
Everyone who wants to know more should take the 45 minute video course “10 Photo Secrets for Bestselling Authors” found on the Christian Writers Institute site. In fact, the price for the course has been cut to only $6 to make it reasonably accessible to all. Just click the course title above and register. You’ll have access to the course any time on any device. There are no limits to the number of times you can watch it.
As mentioned in a previous blog some of the larger writers conferences have a photographer on-site who will do a professional sitting with you for a new author photo. The fees are quite reasonable and may be a worthwhile investment since you are already there. I used that opportunity myself. The photo of me on the about page was taken at the Mt. Hermon Writers Conference by Mary DeMuth.
This is not a Beauty Contest
I’ve been told I have a great face for radio…Thanks for that. Your author photo isn’t an audition for a film role or for a place in a beauty pageant. Rarely does anyone “like” their own photo. That’s okay. It won’t affect your manuscript evaluation!
The point is to help the agent or editor recognize you if you’ve met before. It also helps introduce you to the publication team when they evaluate the proposal.
You Will be Googled
If you don’t include the photo for whatever reason, that is fine. Remember that an agent or an editor will google you anyway. If you have a web site (if you don’t, why not?) your photo should be there already in the “about” section. Or you might have a Facebook page where your social media activity is on display.
The editor or agent is trying to get a handle on who you are and what type of platform/presentation you make to the public. Because if you get published by a traditional publisher, the reading public will google you too!
Use an Optimized File Size
Important! If you embed your photo into your proposal, make sure it is not the high resolution file. Use a file size that has been optimized for use on the internet.
Let me explain if that doesn’t make sense. Last week I received a proposal via email. I clicked on the file … and waited. And waited. I felt like I could have taken a walk around the block and come back to find the file still trying to open. Why? The author had embedded their photo but used an enormously sized file. The point to a proposal is to have it snap open.
This is a common mistake. The author thinks “Steve said to use my photo” and they click “Insert|Picture” and choose their photo file without thinking about the file size.
The same goes for pictures you use on your web site. If you go to a site that has a lot of high resolution files on the page, the site takes a long time to load. Few have the patience to wait.
I’ve used a free picture re-sizer site on occasion called PicResize. It can take a 1.2 mg file and change it to 0.18 mg in just a few steps. (They say that any uploaded photo is deleted from their server within 20 minutes, if that is a concern.) It is also a great way to optimize your social media photos which are very specific on their sizes (Click here for Facebook as an example).
You May Not Want to Use Your Image
There are any number of reasons to keep your image private. I understand. I’ve met a number of people over the years who are very protective of their public identity and don’t allow the use of an author photo. It can be anything from avoiding a stalker, an ex, or simply a desire for privacy. That’s okay! This blog isn’t for you. Those I’m trying to help don’t have those restrictions.
I’m not saying that your photo is a requirement. Only that is can be an enhancement to your presentation.