Looking your best in author photos

Author Portraits“Always wear plain-coloured clothes—no plaids, polka-dots, or graphics—when you’re going for a photo shoot,” my daughter was advised when she became a baby model. Since the focus will be on the high chair or toys you’re promoting, the model shouldn’t be wearing clothes that compete for attention. The same advice goes for authors who are having author photos taken—or author visits.

Your photo is extremely important since you’ll use it on the back of books, websites, social media, posters, and press releases. When I send an email to a library or newspaper, I include a photo of the book and a photo of myself hoping they’ll run a photo with my press release or use it to make a poster. It helps libraries to promote your upcoming speaker event.

Your photos should be recent, in focus, and high resolution for print. Your photo shoot should include head and shoulder shots, as well as you holding a book, reading a book, autographing a book, or standing by your poster—in colour and black and white.

Keep the background clutter-free so the photo is easy to reproduce poster-size or postage-size. What image do you want to convey to readers? Professional, beautiful, trustworthy, sexy, approachable, dork, glamorous, or adventurous?

An author photo is not the type of photo taken by a friend with a smartphone … put some thought and money into professional photos. You want a portrait photographer; so expect to pay $50 to $200 for a photography session.

Yes, it takes time and money for professional-looking photos, but authors need to look serious with quality portraits, especially indie authors who want to be taken seriously.

Barbara A. Fanson is author of Tragedy on the Twenty and thirty how-to design books.