Do You Need an Author Photo?
Are you one of those people? You're in a book store, randomly grabbing hard covers and paperbacks off a shelf, based on the book cover, and then you either flip to the back cover or crack open the back of the book to sneak a peek at the author's photo?
Truth is, if you answered yes, you're probably not alone.
In today's publishing world, the author photo can be one of the most important pieces of the marketing equation. A 2009 NPR report claims a distinct relationship exists between an author and an author's photograph.
Or maybe not. In a Christian Science Monitor piece from the same year, book blogger Jessa Crispin says it's jarring to meet an author and realize they look nothing like their author photo.
Whether you plan to use a photo on your book's cover, with a freelance piece, or as promotional material, writers have plenty to consider:
- Dress for success: Think about the type of material you write. If you're reading a book about investing in today's market, would you trust a photo of a woman in business attire or will the blue-jeans-and-T-shirt gal draw your attention. A photo tells a story in one frame. What story are you attempting to tell?
- Black and white vs. Color: Which is most effective? I pulled books off one bookshelf, and came to a split decision. Thirty books showed black and white photos; the other thirty displayed author's in full color.
- Professional photo session: More than likely, an author will end of covering the cost of author photos. Do you need a professional photo session? Can a friend or significant other point and shoot your digital camera? Most computers come with digital photo editing
software, which makes creating, cropping, and perfecting an author photo a click!
Two positive elements of this photo exist. I chose to stand next to a noiseless background. It's an accentuating color and offers minimal distraction. Also, I selected to wear a solid color, which again, keeps the photo's noise level to a minimum.
Any negatives? If I could reselect a shirt, I'd choose something besides cream, especially since I'm fair-skinned and blonde. I'd also double check the room's lighting to make sure the shadow doesn't cause problems with the photo.
This was not a professional shoot. A friend snapped the picture with my digital camera and I sent the file to my editor, who worked her magic!
Once you've had your photos taken, ask for digital files in both low-res (72 DPI) and high-res (300 DPI). Low-res works best for online; high-res is used in printed formats.
Also think about updating your photo every few years. It will cut down on those awkward moments Crispin described. This photo is four years old and I've changed - just a bit - since then.
Do you use an author's photo? What tips can you offer?
by LuAnn Schindler