Mug Shots — 10 Do’s and Don’ts for Author Pictures

A lot of people don’t like being photographed. It makes them feel awkward and self-conscious. (I know all about that!) But people like, well, people, and providing a face to go with a name helps us to connect. When we have a face to associate with something—like a song or a book—we tend to remember it better.
Just like your book cover, your author picture (or “headshot”) has a job to do. You want to make a good impression. You want to look professional. Why? Because it helps establish trust between you and your readers. An amateur shot will establish your immaturity. You want to be taken seriously! This picture is going to represent you everywhere you go: on your book cover; in your media kit; in blog posts; on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, and every other social media site known to mankind. Your author picture is an important part of your brand.
Do’s:
  • Hire a professional. Yes, I cheated. I married one. (Free photos for life, even when I don’t want ‘em!) If you can’t hire a pro, read a little “how to” advice: How to Take a Great Social Media Profile Picture in 4 Easy Steps, or Taking Your Own Headshot With An iPhone (On A Budget) 
  • Use a close-up shot focused on your face.
  • Zap the background. People want to see you, not your Star Wars Action Figure collection or the creatively dressed participants at Comic Con. Avoid busy, cluttered backgrounds and surroundings. Provide some contrast, you don’t want to blend into the background. If you’re light-haired, use a darker background. If you’re dark-haired, go for a lighter one.
  • Watch what you wear. Remember your school pictures? Solid, dark colors look best, and if you’re going to wear jewelry avoid things that are flashy and flamboyant. These rules are golden unless your natural style is bright and exuberant. It’s important to be yourself!
  • Mind the lighting. Don’t get lost (literally) in a setting that is too bright or too dark.
Don’ts:
  • Don’t use photos that are blurry, pixelated or distorted.
  • No pets. Your pet is your companion, it is not the author of your book.
  • On the same note, don’t include your spouse or your children. Remember, this is all about you.
  • Don’t use casual snapshots with someone cut or cropped out.
  • Don’t be afraid to smile! A smile is personable and attractive.
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right
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Have you ever seen an author photo that made you say “Wow!”? Whose was it? 

Share your portrait adventures below — and please share this post!

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