Carol Vorvain (@writersboon) is an Australian international lawyer, mediator, author and founder of Writers Boon. Her books, When Dreams are Calling, Why not? - The island where happiness starts with a question and A Fool in Istanbul - The adventures of a self-denying workaholic have been featured in a number of travel magazines including the International Traveller magazine and can be found in libraries, bookstores and on Amazon.
A picture is worth a thousand words. So, what impression does your online author profile present to potential readers? How do you come across? Too serious for a comedy author? Too chicky for a thriller, drama writer?
Just one rookie error, just one inappropriate headshot can convey an image of unprofessionalism and literally destroy your writing career.
Think about it: would you buy a book of an unknown writer who chooses to post on LinkedIn near-nude shots of himself? Okay, maybe, hopefully, I’m exaggerating a bit here, but you get the point.
The right foot
When it comes to attracting readers, a first impression has the potential to make or break the relationship.
We all agree that book covers do matter, that we do judge a book by its cover. Same rationale applies to our online persona. We do judge an author by his or her headshot.
Readers might not be aware of it, might deny it, might have no idea why they pick one author over another, but this doesn’t change the fact that they do have certain expectations. When those are not met, they don’t buy the book. Simple.
People will make judgments about who you are by the images you post online.
If your headshot is an amateur snap shot, potential readers may assume this is reflective of how much effort you put into editing your books.
So, it does make a lot of sense to put your best foot forward in all aspects of your author profile. And this includes promoting yourself and your books by using professional portraits and professionally designed book covers.
5 tips for a better headshot:
1. Go pro.
- Have your headshot done by a professional photographer. It shows you are a professional and take your writing career seriously.
- Don’t go for ‘selfies.’ Don’t count on your partner who “sorta knows” just because, on holidays, he’s always the one taking pictures of everything. And please don’t use one of your iPhone picture or a Facebook photo of you on the beach, or at a bar, with palm trees and the wind gently blowing your hair.
- Be professional, not personal. Spend the money. When it comes to making a good first impression, it’s worth it.
2. Keep it simple.
- A good headshot is chest up with good lighting on your face and not many things going on behind you.
- A white background is most effective. It makes you pop out particularly if you are wearing darker clothes. You want people to see your face clearly, not the bright yellow wall behind you.
3. Choose personality first.
- The photo should look like you, wrinkles included. After all, wrinkles assure readers you know what you are talking about, particularly if you write self-help books.
- You might have a variety of shots to show the different looks you might have, to show a bit of your personality.
4. Avoid overkill.
- Minimal makeup is enough. Too much makeup and you will look fake in all your photos.
- Too many clashing bright colors on your clothing and you will look like a clown.
- Smile, but say no to the “cheese factor.” A relaxed smile will do.
- Make sure your eyes are alive and energized, not dead and glazed over.
5. Do your best and try not to worry. Lots can be done with the help of a retouching software.
Remember, “Before people buy from you, they’ve got to buy into you.” -- Chuck D of Public Enemy