As I stated in my previous article, The Year of the Author, I’m trying to shake some things up as far as my own presence online and to make myself known as an author. I just completed a small project with my book cover artist, Hanna, and it is the start of my New Year.
The Author’s Photo
When you go into a bookstore, your eye is immediately drawn to the cover of a book. The old adage: “Don’t judge a book by its cover” doesn’t stand up today’s busy reader. The cover does draw the reader to your book and, most likely if they’ve never heard of you, they’ll turn over the book and, not only read the blurb but also, view the author’s photo to see what the you look like. Not that this will sway the reader to buy your book one way or another, but people are curious to see who wrote the book.
Your appearance should be clean and your photo as professional as you can get it. Not everyone can afford head shots from a professional portrait studio, and I’m not encouraging you to do so, but a basic camera (preferably digital) can take just as good of a photo.
Background selection doesn’t have to be a serious choice either. Sitting in your backyard, under a tree or in garden, would make your picture look nice. Or in a downtown area with a series of buildings would give it a nice quality as well. No one wants to see you sitting on a couch stuffing chips in your mouth unless that is part of your author brand. Even then, I wouldn’t suggest it.
The photo I’ve been using for my books was taken in back in 2009. I intentionally made it black and white as the cover of book 3 of my trilogy (at the time) was also a black and white photo. I had my oldest daughter, who was 11; take the photo in our backyard. The outfit I chose was to help identify myself as a Fantasy author without going overboard in costuming. But, the more I think about it, the photo conveys one who is an adventurer and that’s what I’ve been trying to do with my stories; take the reader on an adventure.
For 2016 I want to wear a similar outfit but have it taken in different environment and have it be in color. I’ve yet to have it taken as my daughter, who is now almost 18, is very difficult to pin down to help out her father.
Author Avatar on Social Media
The photo that you use for your books can and, most likely, should be the same that you use for your pages on Facebook, Twitter, and other outlets online. If you use a different photo, make sure the age difference isn’t that far apart. If possible, take the photo for both your books and your online sites around the same time.
For 2016 I wanted to do something a little unconventional which is why I approached my cover artist, Hanna, with a task of creating an icon for me to use on my Facebook Fan page, and other social media haunts to make it more consistent.
It’s a fairly good likeness if I say so myself and should work for the next few years or so. It’s not a good idea to change your photo often, especially on Twitter, as you want your Followers and Fans to be able to find your picture and be able to keep up with what you have to say. Nobody wants to dig for your tweets or have to run to your profile page because you keep changing your avatar image. Choose one that suits you and the image you are conveying as an author and stick with it for a while.
Your brief bio and “stalker” links
Another thing you can do is write a brief biography about yourself, primarily what made you decide to become a writer and when you wrote your first book. From there you can add other things like: Your day job (if you have one), marital status, children, and what you like to do when not writing. Don’t forget to include links to places where people find out more about you: Your blog page, e-mail address, Facebook link, Twitter link, and of course, a link to where they can buy your books.
Instead of business cards I think I might put together a 4”x6” size card of my new avatar and links to hand out. The bigger size might make it more difficult for people to lose. Or you can encourage people to have it serve as a special bookmark for the book of yours they just bought.
Another idea is to take the image to your local retail store which has a one hour photo machine and have multiple images created for just pennies a piece. Then take the links: for book purchases, for e-mail, and your blog page and put it on a series of mailing labels and attach one to each photo and hand those out. You can do the same thing with a cover of one of your books and casually leave it on a table in a library or your local bookstore or coffee shop.
Take a look at photo you are currently using for your presence on social media and encourage yourself to take a new, more updated photo, for your pages. As I stated before, don’t change it too often but make sure in the process you don’t lose or confuse any of your followers.
Share with my any thoughts or suggestions you might have for an author photo and how to improve your appearance online.