Selecting an Author Photo

Last May, I wrote a blog with tips for drafting your author bio. Because I feature authors on my blogs, I see all types of author bios – some good and some really bad ones. (Remember – short and relevant and above all don’t list every book or award you have ever published or won.) Now while not all authors supply me with an author photo, I get bad and good ones of those too.

As with your author bio, you want to take some time and find the best author photo. If you are serious about being an author, you need to think of writing as your business. If you want people to take you seriously, invest in the time to find a good, professional-looking photo.

This means don’t use the fuzzy photo taken of you at the last picnic or use one where you have cropped out your honey’s arms around you. You don’t need one of you with your cat or your kids (unless you are known for writing about these topics.)

Here is my author photo which was cropped from a picture taken inside my house.

Here is my author photo which was cropped from a picture taken inside my house.

Now this doesn’t mean you need to hire a professional photographer or go down to a studio for pictures. In fact, studio pictures may be too formal for your author photo. You can opt to do the photo yourself (or with the help of a friend).

When deciding on a photo, you need to think about the setting, pose and clothing. If you write gardening books, an outdoor shot might be appropriate. If you are writing comedic stories, you won’t want to be wearing a suit as you might if you were writing about a legal thriller or discussing business topics.

My suggestion is to take a LOT of pictures with different poses and settings. You might consider some with a smile versus a more serious look. You never know which photo you will like or feel fits the image you want to project. Take your time to find the “right” one. (You can read online all sorts of tips such as looking above the camera to reduce red eye as well as tips on picking the best clothing colors and backgrounds.)

Remember that you will need several versions of the photo. For printed material like book covers and promotional flyers, you will need a high-resolution image (300 dpi). For online use, you can use a low-resolution image (usually 72 dpi). Using a low resolution image will allow for faster page loading and take less room on the server.

It is a good idea to use the same photo everywhere so you can build face recognition. But you may need to crop the photo depending on the use – a tighter crop for Twitter while using a wider shot for Facebook or your own website.

Whatever photo you decide to use – formal, fun, serious, or happy – just make sure it projects the image you want to convey as an author.


Tips for drafting your author bio

Every author needs an author bio, whether it is for their book, web page, Facebook, author page or when appearing as a guest blogger. The purpose of an author bio is to give readers a clue about who you are and what you are about. Sometimes writing a bio can be difficult, especially for new authors. Here are a few tips for drafting your author bio.

Author BioLength

I suggest you actually create several bios of different lengths. You can use longer ones on your website or author pages on Amazon or Goodreads but you will need shorter ones for your books or for appearing on other blogs. Typically, your shorter bio should be about 75 words (give or take about 10 words).  (The example at the right is 82 words.)

Limit your accomplishments

When writing your bio, don’t list every book or award you have ever won. Focus on a few accomplishments (no more than three) to highlight. Also don’t list every book you have written. You can provide them with your website address for them to find out more about you and your others works and accomplishments.

Keep it updated  

Don’t forget to update your bios as you continue writing. If you are using the same one as when you first became published, you probably need to change it from saying you finished your first book to you are now on book seven.

As you change as a writer, your bio should reflect these changes. And while you are updating your bio, make sure you have included a photo of you, not your dog or your book cover. (This holds true especially for Twitter.) Readers want to be able to relate to you and picture you as a real person.

Contact information  

An author bio is like your business card. It should provide readers with a way to contact you. The contact information should appear at the end. You can use your Twitter, Facebook or email address as your contact info or simply provide your web address.

If you don’t give readers some way to contact you, then you have missed an opportunity to interact with a fan and interaction means everything in today’s high-tech world, even if it is just virtual interaction.

A few other dos and don’ts

  •  An author bio should always be written in third person.
  • Keep the information relative to who will be viewing it and tailor it to that audience.
  • Don’t include “resume” type information such as education and job history, which tends to be boring unless they are relevant to the book you are promoting. (This could be key if you are writing a non-fiction book and want to establish yourself as an expert.)
  • Include biographical information such as marital status, number of children, pets or hobbies as these show you are a normal person and can help readers relate to you.