9 Tips on Author Branding - Self-Publishing Tips Part #6




Part of an author's marketing success depends on the author Bio and headshot. Once you hit the "publish" button, you became a professional author and an entrepreneur. You have officially started your own a business. You are a professional businessperson now, so look the part! Having a professional-looking headshot and Bio is essential for places like Amazon's Author Central, your blog/website, and all social media sites. If you want your work taken seriously, this is a great place to start.

I see so many authors with author Bios that ramble on and don't pertain to anything they've written and/or with photos uploaded that look like they were taken in a backyard in their sweatpants, wearing sunglasses. Or a pic of the writer at a Star Wars convention dressed up as Han Solo. Just no...

It doesn't matter if you can't afford to hire a professional photographer, a cell photo or digital camera will work fine for the author headshot. A nice headshot will help connect with potential readers, give a good impression to book reviewers, and help establish your brand.

An author photo is like your branding logo—you want it to look professional. And your headshot and bio should be consistent with your subject matter and brand. 

Here are some awesome tips on what to do for a great headshot...

Tip 1) Pretend this is for a professional job interview and the interviewee is requesting a headshot along with your resume. Or a newspaper wants to do an feature on you and your books, and the reporter requests a photo to go along with the article. You would never send a photo of yourself with friends or family at a backyard BBQ, right? If you look at it this way, you will strive to give a great first impression.

Tip 2) For females put on some makeup, even if you don't usually wear it, and wear your most businesslike or professional-looking outfit. Just a tad of eyeshadow in a neutral tone, a smudge of blush to warm your cheeks, and/or light-colored lipstick will brighten up your face. Make sure to apply makeup in natural light or sunlight to keep it soft. (And cheek teeth for lipstick stains!) Style your hair as if you are going to a job interview, being photographed for the NY Times bestseller's feature, attending a friend's wedding, or going to a business meeting.

For males, comb your hair and eyebrows (or get a haircut if needed), trim that bread, and/or any facial hair. Put on your favorite business outfit or Sunday best, as if you are attending a friend's wedding, going on a job interview, or a business meeting. Strive to look like a business professional.

I'm sure you've all heard the saying, "Dress for the job you want, and not the one you have."

Tip 3) Once you are finished looking your very best, I suggest standing in front of a bookshelf (with books only) or a blank wall painted in a neutral color, or hang up a sheet to stand in front of. If you prefer an outdoor or scenic shot, then make sure there aren't any people in the background and that the scene fits your brand. If you write horror, then take a photo in a graveyard, or if you write romance, a pretty garden background scene would be ideal. Try to avoid a pure white or very dark background.

Tip 4) A soft, small smile works best. No need to show teeth. Or a serious look is okay, as long as you don't look too grumpy. If you have a hard time forcing a natural smile, then think of something funny, or have the friend or family member taking the picture help you to laugh or remind you of a fond memory.

Tip 5) The picture should only be from the waist up or from the shoulders up. No need for a full-length photo. I actually discourage any and all full-body shots. The focus of this mugshot should be your face.

Tip 6) The photo should be of only YOU. Not your dog, cat, husband, wife, Aunt Judith, or your best friend. Sorry, Mom, I will dedicate a book to you, but please stay out of my author photo. No one else in the pic or in the background. Now the exception is this, if you write a successful series about a bulldog and you have one, then by all means, have a photo of you and the dog on your website or blog.

Tip 7) Choose your outfit wisely. Nothing too colorful, busy, or with loud patterns. Keep it simple and in solid colors. No tank-tops, turtle-necks, too much cleavage, short-sleeves, or swimsuits. Avoid wearing the color white unless it is paired with a darker color.

Tip 8) Crop the photo so there is not too much space on top or the sides of your headshot. Color photos are more eye-catching and warm, than black-and-white. 

And I would advice against wearing a hat, or baseball cap, or even the knit cap your grandma gave you. (Remember, if this were for a job interview, you would not wear a hat in most situations.)

Tip 9) I know some of you might want to remain anonymous or feel uncomfortable with revealing your face on social media, and that's fine. Then I suggest using one of your book covers as your headshot. However, this will feel less personal for readers and you will have a harder time connecting with your fans. Or I suggest taking a photo holding one of your own books to partially hide your face, but still smile because it will show in your eyes and wear a nice shirt!


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(All images from Pixabay and not actual author photos)






     For more really great advice on author photos, please head over to Why A Great Author Photo Matters (And How To Take One) and read the article. 

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BTW, I am also an Author Branding Consultant. I offer Self-Publishing Consultation, Author Branding or Rebranding (Bio, headshot, branding tagline), Book Cover Packaging, Social Media Advice, and Book Marketing to gain the attention of a much wider audience.

I can help you to redefine your niche brand and lure in your target readership. 

To promote successfully as self-publishers, an author must start building a platform as soon as possible, which is essential for an author’s success at any stage in their career, and establishing a brand is the foundation of true success.

Please contact SA Soule for a free initial consultation and pricing packages.




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