Monday, January 14, 2013

The Author Photo

The Author Photo – Silly or Significant?

         Do readers really care about an author’s photo? Everyone know it’s the cover, the description and content that sell a book, right? All true. But in today’s book-selling marketplace, unless your name is James Patterson, Jonathan Kellerman, or another NYT best selling author, you have to do your own marketing.
Where do you do this?
The Internet. You take advantage of popular social media sites, like Twitter, Facebook, Google plus, Pinterest, and Goodreads. You go begging for reviews and interviews that will appear on other people sites.
What do people see first on these sites? Not just your book. Your face!
            Yes, your mug makes the first impression. If you’re an author trying to market his/her books, I recommend getting a professional shot. My father used to tell me, “If you want to be successful, you have to look successful.” I always suspected that was how he justified the new cars he drove and the expensive clothes he wore, but it remains good advice.
Have your photo done, and look the part of an author who’s already achieved fame.
1.     Before you book a photographer, check out his/her work.
2.     Don’t be shy about having your face digitally improved! You want to look like you, but make sure your photo represents the very best you.
3.     If you can’t afford a professional, have a friend take some shots for you. Take a lot of them, in different poses, clothing and with different backgrounds. Then you’ll be sure to have one that works.
4.     Unless you’re writing erotica, I’d advise staying away from sexy clothing or poses. Once more, the aim is to look professional.
5.     If you’re trying to build an online platform, all the more reason for the professional photo. Pictures of your kids, your wedding, or that fun shot you took in a photo booth send a different message. Reserve those for Facebook or your website. You’re an author, look like one.

Dear readers,
I’m sorry my posts have been erratic, but I’ve been busy getting my second novel, Relative Malice, up and running. 
I was advised early in my writing career to get a professional photo done. When I saw the proofs, my first thought was, “Who is that old woman?” Luckily we’d taken enough shots that there were a few that flattered me!
Whether we like to admit it or not, we make judgments about people by our reaction to their faces. Everyone does it. Show people a face they'd like to get to know.
Thanks for stopping by, and have a great week!


  1. Writer Dave Here.
    Hi Marla,
    I always liked your photo in the hat. I think I've told you that before! You look very writerly!
    I've been told that I Look very writerly on my blog photo
    People have told me I have a softer look on my Facebook photo.
    So everything worked out just right!
    Take Care,

  2. Thanks, Dave! Glad you liked it. Had to take that one ugger off of Facebook. Didn't fit my "image." LOL
    Have a great day,

  3. Very good advice here! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi LIsa,
      Glad you stopped by. I hated having my author's photos done. No longer 21 anymore, I'm not as photogenic as I used to be! But that's why they take a lot of shots--to get a few good ones.
      I think if you're trying to build an audience, you need to put your best face forward!
      Thanks for reading, and have a nice weekend,

  4. Couldn't agree more! I hate tweeting to a book cover! And get frustrated by those twitter profile photos of an author and all their family, so all you can see is a group of tiny people! Your photo should look like YOU, and the sort of books you write :) I take my own photos - but yes, these days I need to take a LOT before I find a couple I like! :)

    1. Hi Terry!
      So nice to see you here today instead of on Twitter. I don't mind the book covers as much as some others and really do hate pics of the kids and family. I suppose if you're writing a book on child rearing, it could help to show you have kids. But I agree, the best way is with a good photo. Yours are very nice for doing them yourself. Might want to try having a friend take them. It might be easier to be relaxed, and also they can tell you what's working.
      Thanks for stopping by! Have a lovely weekend,

  5. I was told also to get a professional phot , too. You make a good point.It identifies you.
    I question about changing my 4 year old photo to something softer. I am tired of the one I have been using.
    Is there a good timing?
    I loved the photo above. Too funny.

    1. Hi Malika,
      You're right. Like we get tired of our hairstyles, we get tired of photos. I'm thinking about getting a new one, too. Yours looks very professional, but you might have a different look now. It's fun to change.
      I don't think it matters how often you change, but I'd keep the same one until you have a following built up and people will still know who you are.
      Yeah, I loved that girl with the camera! I've seen some photos that look like they were taken just that way, haven't you? (I get my blog photos on Fotolia, they have a great selection)
      Take care, and thanks for visiting,

  6. Hello Marla,
    thanks for posting this! Hope everyone on Twitter reads it : )
    For around $50 one can get professional portrait photos and one photo can last 10 years at least and be used for all books, social media sites etc.

    For "home made" photos: I just found by chance a page today on Fiverr
    where a fellow offers photoshop-ing of images for just five bucks.

    Like your blog!

    1. Hi Doris,
      Nice to have you visit! $50 sounds pretty cheap. I paid about $100, and i live in a pretty rural area. Love the idea of having photos photo-shopped for cheap. That would be a great way to go. That way you could work on a nice, natural pose in the comfort of your own home, then have him "beautify it" for you. Thanks for the tip!
      Glad you liked the blog. Have a great week,

  7. I couldn't agree more. It makes me sad when I go to an author's website and find an old family photograph. (And don't get me started about the unfortunate state of the websites themselves.) I realize not every writer is a marketer, but people do judge a book by its cover (so to speak), and if you appear unprofessional, people will assume your work is likewise unpolished.

    I'm fortunate to know several very talented photographers, including the photographer who took the portraits currently on my website, Facebook page, and Twitter account. Big thanks to Bold Sheep Photography (!

    P.S., When in doubt, wear a hat!

    1. Hi David,
      We are in agreement. I like your author photo. You are fortunate to have photographer friends.
      Tried to leave a comment on your blog, but Wordpress wouldn't let me.
      Nice to hear from you. Keep writing!

  8. This is so true, Marla, and great advice for writers. I spend most of my life editing out superfluous content. I love your blog, and am awarding you a Versatile Blogger Award. You can read about it here http://www.the

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