Why Writers Need a Great Author Photo (+Tips on How to Take One)

When they browse for books most people instantly turn them over and glance at the author’s photo. You know it’s true because you do it too.

There is this innate need to evaluate the mastermind behind the book we are interested in. The photo that proudly stands at the back cover can influence people’s desire to purchase (or not to purchase) your book. That’s the cold harsh reality.

Author photo matters because it can help you convince people that your writing is worthy of their attention. But there’s more to it. Here’s why you need to dedicate your time to take a great author photo.

The Benefits of Having a Great Author Photo

Show That You Are the Right Person to Talk about that Subject

If your book is about business management, but your photo says “I’m not confident, I’m silly, and I’m careless” how can you expect the readers to purchase that book?

Your photo needs to convince the readers that you know what you are talking about. That’s the beauty of a great author photo. It can tell your story without a single uttered word.

An author photo that portrays a confident man in a suit, power posing, and giving you a charming smile is the person from whom you’ll want to take business advice. And you can do that for any book genre.

Let’s say that you are publishing a self-help book. Taking a photo that exudes with openness, warmth, and peace is what will give a potential reader a push towards putting their trust in you.

Create a Connection with Readers

Seeing your face can help readers make some sort of connection with you. This is especially relevant if you write a book about your personal experiences. When they can see you, they can visualize the person who experienced all those adventures and immerse themselves in the book more easily.

The right photo can attract your target readers. Moreover, it can help you build trust and make people more confident in purchasing precisely your book.

Poor Picture Quality Can Associate Readers to Poor Book Quality

A blurred poor quality photo that shows a person with a forced smile and weird background will seem careless. What can a reader expect from an author who puts such a photo on their very own book?

Subconsciously (or consciously) readers will expect poor book quality from an author with a poor quality photo. I mean who wouldn’t.

If an author can spend years writing a book, why can’t they invest some time to take a decent photo? People can easily connect a carelessly taken photo with careless writing,

Send the Right Message to the Audience

The perfect author photo is the one that resonates with your target audience. Your photo sends the message and you need to make sure that the message is right.

Helen Addison, a book critic and contributor writer gave as an inside look into why she as a passionate reader and critic pays close attention to the authors’ photos.

“As visual beings, people pick up visual cues of whether that book is suitable for them or not. One of those cues is your photo. I take myself as an example since I always look the author’s photo first and if the photo is inviting and appropriate to the book’s subject, I feel like the author himself convinced me to buy that book,” said Helen.

How to Take a Great Author Photo

Let a Professional Photographer Take Your Photo

You might have the newest iPhone but unless you are a super-talented photographer who can edit that picture to perfection and disguise phone-taken image into a professionally taken photograph, put your author’s photo into professionals’ hands.

Professional photographers can do more than just take a photo. You can tell them the type of book you are writing and what you want your photo to say and they will give you suggestions on how to pose. They can help you hide your “flaws” and accentuate your great personality.

Be Unique

Don’t try to copy someone else’s photo. Be genuine and let your photo tell who you are.

As it was mentioned previously, your photo should match the genre/topic of your book. So, you should intertwine your personality with your books subject for the ultimate result.

Check out Johnny Truant’s author photo which you can see in this post. He writes funny serial fiction stories and his unique black and white photo with a hint of color green perfectly matches his genre. His edgy, confident, and original photo is what makes him the right person to turn a book titled “Fatty Vampire” into something that readers would like to read.


Don’t Over Edit It

The endless number of editing software and apps can tempt you into playing around with your photo a little too much. Rather than counting on editing apps to fix everything, ensure that you use natural light or studio lights and choose the right background.

If you aren’t proficient in editing, the end result can seem like child’s play. Keep it simple. Also, instead of “fixing yourself” in the editor, take a flattering picture that shows off your best features (piercing eyes, lovely smile, mysterious expression, etc.).


Final Thoughts

Great author photo can do wonders. If you still don’t believe it, go ahead and carefully observe the authors’ photos to see how influential they can be on your judgment of the book.

The main guidelines that you need to keep in mind are: be unique, present yourself as “the right person for the job”, and take a high-quality picture. In case you want to take the photo on your own, make sure that you know what you are doing.

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