Thursday, October 1, 2015

The author photo

I can't help but wonder, does an actual author photo make you more credible as a writer? I'm wondering this because every where I look writers are using professional authors photos on their blogs and social media and not just their books anymore.

I know one of my blogging/ writing hero's Alex. J. Cavanaugh doesn't use an actual author photo, but he's super awesome and I think the exception to the rule. I can't help but wonder whether the fact that potential readers don't know what I look like makes them feel like they are taking a risk on an author that won't even show their face.

I use a pseudonym and have never showed my face because of my family asking me to consider their privacy. Because me and my siblings always hang out a lot, they don't want people associating my writing with them, which I understand. We're very private people. Did I mention they've told all their friends and co-workers that I've published a book?  But I don't think the general public will come up to me and ask about my book. Mostly people don't pay much attention I think. Besides, I'm a nobody in the writing community. I'm the furthest thing from famous.

On the other hand, the idea of showing the world what I look like scares me. What if people use my photo for porn adds, or something crazy like that. Even worse, what if my my looks scare off potential readers:)

I have done research online and I can't come to an accurate consensus. One group says an author photo is essential for the modern day, as it gives readers the ease of mind to know that they are connecting with an actual person. Another group says you don't have to. It shouldn't make a difference, or that author photos are an 80's thing (what? I don't believe that).

Personally, I like interacting with people on social media who have an actual face. It's nice to know who you are communicating with, (of course I realize they could have bough a stock image and be using that). Okay, yes, I'm very paranoid. I was thinking of using an author photo for my Amazon page, and for blogging and social media, not on the inside of my book covers. Those shall remain plain.

What is your opinion on using an author photo? What do you think I should do? Any advice?

51 comments :

  1. I don't know. I instinctively went for not putting in a picture in this book, but linked to my social network profiles (all of which boast pictures of me.) For my next book, I'll try using a picture and seeing how it works out. :-D

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    1. Thanks for the feedback, Misha. I l was thinking of only using my picture for social media as well.

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  2. I think you've got to do whatever feels comfortable for you. I have favorite authors like Alice Hoffman to name one, and her photos are on every book I own. Others just a bio and no photo. For me it's not important to know what the author looks like, it's only about how they entertain me really. I know from most of my children's picture books, they usually always have a photo and write up about both the author and the artist, but in some cases, there isn't a photo.

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    1. Thank you, Karen. Doing what makes me happy is something I need to learn to do more often. I have also noted that certain writers don't use an author photo in their books, but then have a photo on their website. I guess I have to give this more thought. Thank you, again.

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  3. Yes, whatever is comfortable for you. I don't use a photo because I promised my wife I'd retain our privacy. And it's worked, both in keeping our private life private and in establishing me based on an icon rather than a photo. Whatever you choose, stay consistent, and it won't matter either way.

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    1. Thank you, Alex. I definitely respect your decision. You are amazing though.

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  4. I think it depends on the photo and how it relates to the book. I've encouraged one author to add his photo to his books because guys will say, Cool, this is by a guy, and girls will say, Wow, he's hot. I think the right photo can enhance your audience's connection to you. I can't stand photos of myself.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Thank you, Janie. I can't stand photos of myself either. Probably because I don't think I'm pretty. I'm definitely going to give this more thought.

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    2. Even if you don't think you're pretty, and I'm definitely not pretty, the right photographer can get a shot that will work for you with your book.

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    3. Both of you stop saying you aren't pretty! You surely are to someone and if not, then you surely should be to yourself! I've never met either of you in real life but what I know of you is absolutely beautiful.

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    4. Janie - Thank you, Janie.

      Jennifer - Thank you. I should be nicer to myself for sure. You are wonderful.

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  5. I'm also a private person.
    The hot-air-balloon avatar works for me. I suppose I'll add a photo when I eventually publish a book...

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    1. Thank you, Michelle. I can't get an avatar that I'm absolutely happy with. The balloon avatar absolutely works for you. But I think I'll have to think about this a bit more.

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  6. Hi Murees - looks like you could go with an avatar icon ... I have to say I like to connect with a blogger by name and preferably by photo ... but understand the privacy element ... take care and all the best - Hilary

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    1. Thank you for your opinion, Hilary. I agree, connecting with bloggers who have a photo is a nice experience. But, I guess I have to give this more thought:)

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  7. Just decided. I'm going to go buy a stock photo of a young stud. What a great idea.

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  8. I don't like having my picture taken, but I thought it would be good to have something for my blog and Amazon/Goodreads page. The couple of photos I use aren't professional - just ones my husband took - but I think they give a pretty good sense of me and my personality.

    I think you should do whatever makes sense for you, whatever you're comfortable with. I don't think there's a real right or wrong here.

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    1. Thank you, Madeline. I like your photo, because it does show your personality, and it looks more personal. Certain author photos can be so cold.

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  9. Hmm, I never thought of not using my actual picture, either on social media or my books. I agree with what others have said. You need to do what you feel comfortable doing and not what others say is right. I guess for me, I wanted to be intimately connected with my writing because my writing is intimately connected with me.

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    1. I agree. I also want a more intimate connection with my readers, and I thought a picture would be a good way. But maybe its my own vanity too. I do like your photo.

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  10. Well first I had to go look at my blog to see if I even had a picture. I do but very small. I do have an author pic in my book and usually linked to my bio in my writings. I just always assumed there should be a pic with my bio. Hmmm, but now that I think about it I don't think I've ever read a book and wondered where the authors pic was.
    However, just this week I was told I need a "professional" head shot. (Mine is a selfie that I have carefully cropped). I'm not sure if a professional head shot really makes all that much difference. But the time I make it big I'm sure I'll have staff and a budget for professional stuff! In the meantime, selfies capture the real me.

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    1. I like your picture. I think the thing with taking selfies is that you can capture the real you. Professional photos can sometimes look so serious and cold. But they do lend a more professional look, don't they? I'm just afraid if I show the world what I look like, I can never go back to being anonymous and private again. Thank you for sharing with me.

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  11. I wouldn't say you're a nobody; after all, you're a writer and a published author now, and that's definitely important. If you're not comfortable providing an author photo, you don't have to. I've never even posted pictures of myself online (with the exception of pictures for my online dating profile in the past), because I don't feel comfortable posting pictures of myself either.

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    1. I think I fear losing my privacy most. But I guess if I get a good picture of myself, I might change my opinion. I just thought it would be a better way to connect with my readers.

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  12. Good morning and happy Saturday to you! I hope you don't mind that I included you in my post this morning! See it here
    http://twincitiesblather.blogspot.com/2015/10/connections.html

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  13. I think you should just do whatever feels comfortable to you :). As a writer I like having an author photo (because I have a vain hope one day someone will recognise me in the street and be like, YOU'RE MY FAVOURITE AUTHOR!!...a little self-centred, but hey, we've all got to have our dreams ;)). However, as a reader, I'm not bothered by author photos - it's not like I memorise my favourite author's face, I'll memorise the words they've written instead :).

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    1. Very true. Maybe I'm considering a picture because of my own vanity as well. But mostly, I just don't want to hide anymore, or make my readers think I'm ashamed of my own writing. But maybe it just vanity:) I'm sure someone will recognize you one of these days.

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  14. I waited all the way up until about two months before my first book came out to get an author photo. It was taken by my stepdad at the Opryland Hotel. He used to be a photographer years ago. I wouldn't say it's necessary to spend a fortune on a professional photographer. You can get a great photo just by snapping a photo using your iPhone. There's an app called ProCamera that turns your iPhone camera into a professional one, doing all the fancy things for you. I just wrote about it--it was recommended by an award-winning professional photog. Get that app, head out to the woods or a pond or just stand against a brick wall and, voila, photo!

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    1. Thank you so much for this awesome tip, Stephanie. It does make me feel better that I don't necessarily have to hire a professional photographer. I think if I like a photo of me, I would feel better about sharing it.

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  15. It's a difficult one for sure! I think whatever works best for you is best for everyone! Personally I love flipping to the back of a book and seeing a person in a picture, but that's because I love reminding myself that this novel currently making me laugh/cry/stare at the sky was written and thought up by an actual person I can see in this picture. I wouldn't complain if there wasn't a pic though :)

    I never really thought about not putting a pic up on social media, but I can understand being uncomfortable.

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    1. Thank you so much for your input. I'm definitely reconsidering having a picture for social media. Even if a book doesn't have a picture of an author, I usually check out their social media pages to see what they look like.

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  16. I do so much public speaking, a lot of people know what I look like anyway. Plus red hair is rather memorable. However, I think the choice to use a photo or not should be up to the author.

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    1. Thank you for your input. You have a great author photo. I think you are awesome for taking on public speaking opportunities. I admire your for that.

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  17. Great question. Do what makes you feel comfortable.

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  18. I have an author photo. I'm never sure that I'm that fond of it, but it's out there. I think that as far as privacy is concerned, an author photo is less of a breach of privacy than my facebook page which I started for hanging out with family and friends and then became this weird multi-purpose place that I keep thinking of separating out between family and friends and authors.
    I don't think a professional photo is necessary. I've met authors who look nothing like their professional photo and that's more disconcerting to me than not seeing their face. And, I don't like having my picture on my books - that just feels weird to me.
    Anyway, I think it's a personal choice.

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    1. Thank you, Tyrean. I definitely wouldn't use my picture in my books. But I think its nice when I can see who I'm communicating with when I'm blogging, or chatting with on Twitter. It feels more personal. But I think I need to work on my confidence a bit more first, before taking any actual photos.

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  19. I so get this. My first author photos showed me in a hat and sunglasses and then another one half hidden behind a large tree. I blogged for a year or so without a photo. When I realized I much preferred connecting with a face, I came out from behind the tree, took off the hat and shades, and smiled for the camera. All this to say that YOU are the one who has to be comfortable with whatever you do. And whatever you decide is fine.

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    1. Thank you Carol. I really do want to use an author photo, but I'm also afraid. Besides, I'm still talking about it with my family.

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  20. I'm one that doesn't use a picture. (And especially because my 2nd pen name LX Cain is supposed to be a man!) It never occurred to me to buy a stock photo to use on my avatar. Well, I just stick with the purple eye. :)

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    1. The purple eye totally works for you! I just haven't found something that truly represents me. Thank you so much for your input.

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  21. An author photo for social media is a must. People want to know you're legit...a real person. And definitely not fake. People are more likely to follow/like someone on social media if they have a real and professional photo. It's more personal too.

    Play around with taking some different picture of you, get some help from friends/family. You can make it black and white which may be better than color if you're worried about sharing your face with the world.

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    1. Thank you, Chrys. I definitely want to go with a more personal/ professional feel. I think it's cool that you suggested that friends and family can take the photos. I thought I had to hire a professional photographer. It definitely makes things easier:)

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  22. You should do what feels right for you. I read online that the most successful author nearly all have professional photos done for their business of writing, One day I will probably do that, because I know as a reader I like visually connecting with the person that writes my favorite stores, The more I like them the more I want to know about them personally and when can I get my next fix in whatever series lol.
    Juneta Writer's Gambit

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    1. I agree. I feel the same way. I also like seeing what my favorite authors look like. Also, I have noticed that the most successful authors have photos too.

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  23. I think an author photo helps people connect with you. Everyone wants to have some idea who's speaking to them.

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    1. Very true. That's one of the reasons why I really want to use a photo.

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