Author Photos: How to Signal Your Tribe

Author Photo Kim StaflundAuthor Photo Kim Staflund

Author Photo Kim Staflund

Author photos make as powerful a statement about a writer as a book cover makes about the story inside. As such, your author photo should always be given as much care and consideration as the rest of your book.

I recently came across an article by Tucker Max that resonated with me. He comes across quite critical in this article (which is the norm for him), but he says one thing really well throughout the entire piece: your author photo is an important way of “signalling your tribe.” Better yet, he shows examples of what exactly this means.

Years ago, author photos only appeared in these three places: on the back cover of a book; inside the back matter of the book’s interior; or on a publisher’s press release. Nowadays, you can take full advantage of social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook to promote yourself and your books. You may also choose to write a personal blog or create a video of yourself on YouTube.

There are many ways for you to promote yourself online now. And there are just as many types of professional photographers and videographers to help you put your best face forward.

Author Photos on Book Covers

The front or back cover of a book is a great place to put an author photo. It can be a simple headshot or full-length portrait, depending on the writer’s preference. And this is a great place to get creative. A professional photographer knows how to use either colour or black and white to depict the mood of the book within the author photo. To make the picture even more attractive to readers, writers can dress themselves up as a character from inside their books or create the setting of the book within the background of the picture.

Author Photos on Social Networking Sites

Facebook not only helps you to keep in touch with personal friends and family members. It can also be used as a business networking tool much like LinkedIn. Both are great places to post an author photo as your profile picture for added exposure.

That said, you should be careful about the types of photographs you’re posting on these public sites. If the author photo on the back of your book is provocative or risqué in any way, it’s wise to leave that one to the back of the book and have a second, more conservative photo done specifically for these social networking sites. This is especially important if you only write part-time and currently work in a professional office setting. Today’s employers often “Google” prospective and current employees before deciding whether to hire or promote them.

Author Photos on Personal Blogs

You can also use your blog to promote yourself, your work, and your books. The primary reason why blogging is so important is search engine optimization (SEO), which means to improve (optimize) your ranking on search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. When your prospective readers visit your blog, a great author photo can keep them interested in sticking around a little longer to click through and read more of your posts.

Author Video Readings on YouTube

YouTube is a great place to post an author video reading that will be available to a worldwide audience within a matter of minutes. You can even share a link to this video with all your readers via email, social networking sites, or your personal blog.

Never before has it been easier to reach such a broad audience so quickly—and at such an affordable cost! This makes it all the more important for you to put your best face forward with professional-quality author photos.

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