Several years ago, I got some blunt feedback. A woman was brave enough to tell me that the photo on my book cover and website made me look old and boring. That stung!
However, she was right. I got some new photos done and noted a much more positive result. I love the photo I use on my website now and get positive comments on it all the time. I'm still the same person; the only change was in the skill of the photographer.
I saw a photo yesterday of a lovely professional woman in a feathery drape, sans blouse. It was a sexy photo and did not convey a message of, 'I'm a professional who can help you.' It would have been a more appropriate photo for a spouse or boyfriend instead of on her business website.
So, what constitutes a good professional author photo?
First, consider your ideal client or ideal reader. Then select clothing that you would wear to a meeting with that person. If you write for corporate executives, formal business attire is a must. On the other hand, if you write for teens or work at home Moms, a blouse or open collar shirt will communicate that you are approachable and accepting.
Ask a couple of trusted friends which colors are most flattering on you. If you have a strong color in your marketing materials, say a red logo, be sure to select clothing in a color that will compliment that color, not clash with it or be lost next to it.
Next, go to a professional photographer and get high quality photos. Sure, it may be tempting to have your friend take shots of you with a digital camera, but a professional photograph needs special lighting to bring out your best features.
When you get the proofs from your photographer, pay special attention to your eyes. Your eyes should look warm and have a sparkle. The real you should shine out from your eyes- compassionate, interested, and engaging.
If you notice a fearful or dull look, don't use that proof. The last thing you want people to think that you are afraid of the camera or stuffy. If they think you look blasé, how likely will they be to buy your book?
Outdoor shots can work well if they are professionally done and appropriate to your ideal reader.
Be cautious about using pets, funny hats, or costumes unless those props are closely tied to the message of your book. It's great to have a sense of humor, but your photo needs to represent your competence as well as your approachability. Anything that looks like a marketing gimmick will probably backfire.
If you have a current photo, plan to update it every three to five years to ensure that it matches your current appearance. The last thing you want to hear is "Oh, you are a lot older than you look on your website."
A better comment is "When I saw your website, I just knew I'd love your book!"
Want to create a successful book? Discover 8 book marketing blunders that you can avoid. Grab your free ecourse at http://www.BookMarketingBlitz.com. Lynne Klippel is a publisher, author and book shepherd who specializes in helping authors write business building books.