In the past, I’ve talked about the importance for authors to see themselves as authorpreneurs, the CEOs of their writing business. Just like with those corporate leaders, authors need professional portraits.
Writers know that people judge a book by its cover. The more compelling the cover, the greater the odds that a reader will pick up the book to take a closer look. So why is it that writers use less than flattering images to promote themselves? Twitter #author or #writer, and then notice the selfies and unprofessional headshots that are less than complimentary. There are pictures taken from so far away that its impossible to see the person’s features. In some photos, hats and sunglasses cover the face; in others the pose is threatening. I cannot understand why an author, unless they write about animals, would choose a cat or dog as an avatar and consequently miss an opportunity to connect with the reader.
A good headshot (a close-up portrait which shows the top of the shoulders up to above the head with the eyes in the middle of the photo) can help you sell yourself and your book. Unless you are an established author like Stephen King who is deliberately posing for the macabre, you want to appear approachable. You want to make a good first impression. You don’t want to turn off people with a maniacal expression as in Jack Nicholson’s photo from The Shining.
Your headshot is a form of branding. It should show you as you currently appear. For this reason, get new photos as you age, change hair color or hair styles. You can choose a background to illustrate your personality, but be sure you want that photo to represent you everywhere. I recently replaced a professional headshot with one my husband took of me in Nijmegen. I thought the background characterized the Woman on Her Way book series better than the studio photo, but it was less than flattering. Although it looked okay online, it was not suitable for print. Realizing I needed a quality for both the media kit and online marketing, I have scheduled a photo shoot.
Since I speak about my adventures and about writing and authorpreneurship, I decided to go for a studio photo. This way I am not limited in its use and the consistency will help brand me as an author and speaker. Decide how you want to brand yourself before the photo shoot so you and the photographer are working to best showcase you and the message your want to convey with the photo. Try not to go for formal or stuffy but as someone that the reader (and press) can communicate with.
To supercharge your sales, use your best-looking portraits
- Use color photos and offer them in black and white.
- Use 72 dpi for the web (612 x 792 px) and 300 dpi (2250 x 3300 px) for print.
- Create a Gravatar, an image that follows you on the web as you comment on posts or blogs.
- Use a good photoeditor to resize the photos for the media kit. Offer at least a small and a large photo.
Do you have a professional headshot in your media kit? Tell us about it or provide a link to it.