I’ll be brutally honest – I didn’t think much of the whole author photo thing when I started developing my author platform. And, yes, I still hate those words ‘author platform’ now as much as I did in 2013 when I published my first book and started researching all this author marketing stuff. Like most self-published authors, I used a favorite personal photo for my author profile. In my case, it was a picture taken during my 12 ½ year anniversary party (12 ½ year anniversary is totally a thing). When I started using that picture, it was already a few years old. At some point, I had to admit that it didn’t really look like me anymore. At that point, I grabbed a vacation photo and used that. But then that photo started looking a bit dated as well. I’d be damned if I yet again updated my author profile picture. No one needed to know I aged, right?
But the unfortunate truth was – I had aged. Not only that but I’d now written and published eleven books – twelve if we’re counting the book I personally translated. I was getting more and more serious about this whole writing thing. I even dared to tell people I’m an author when they asked what I did for a living. (Even though I still cringe a bit inside when I say it.) Darn. Maybe it was time to have a professional take an author picture after all. I had the thought and then – like so many things in life – I did nothing about it. But suddenly I found myself attending a gala (peer pressure sucks). I’m completely useless when it comes to applying make-up and making my hair look fancy so I made appointments to have myself made ‘pretty’. That’s when I remembered the whole author profile thing. If I’m spending the day getting all dolled up anyway, why not have a photographer come over and have a professional photo taken?
I thought all photographers had the magical power to make the subject of their photos look younger, prettier, or thinner. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Once I got used to the fact that my chin is more than leaning towards double-chin territory and those bags under my eyes are permanent, I was pretty happy with how the pictures turned out.
Through this whole process, I’ve continued to update my Readsalot blog on a daily basis. Naturally, I started to pay more attention to author photos while blogging and choosing which book I was going to read next. I was frankly shocked by how many authors don’t take the author picture seriously. There are a bunch of authors who don’t even bother to have any picture. What are they trying to hide? And then there are those who have cutesy gifs or cartoon characters. Really? That’s how you want to portray yourself as a writer? And finally, we have the authors who take a vacation picture and turn it into a profile photo.
I admit I made the above mistakes again and again over the years. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t learn from my mistakes. I initially started the process of getting a professional photo because I’d aged. But when I told people of my plans, everyone (seriously, every single person I talked to and I talk A LOT) said it was a great idea because I needed to look professional. And after I’d gotten the pictures done and uploaded them, I received tons of compliments as well as comments about how professional they looked.
There was that word again – professional. I guess the question is – do you want to be taken seriously as a professional author? If so, it may be time to get those professional pictures taken. Still uncertain? Just check out the difference between the two sets of pictures above. ‘Nuf said.