Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Author portraits are important. Don't have a crappy one.
(But you don't have to spend hundreds.)

Every author needs a portrait -- for websites, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, press kits, posters, etc. -- and to go on books.

Famous authors like Suze Orman have their faces on the front covers of their books. Pretentious but not-famous authors like Eliyzabeth Yanne Strong-Anderson also display themselves on the front. Not-famous and not-pretentious authors usually show their faces on the backs of their books. I'm only slightly famous and slightly pretentious.

My newest book shows my highly modified face on the front cover. I never wear those distinctive/funny eyeglasses in real life. This is a very personal book, so it's appropriate for my face to be there. If I was writing about Richard Nixon, chocolate cake or the Peloponnesian Wars, my face would be on the back.

Unfortunately, many authors use amateur photos with bad lighting, bad focus and distracting backgrounds.

The price of a portrait shot in a professional photographer’s studio can easily be in the $300-$1,000 range, which is too steep for many writers who don’t have a big publisher to pay the bill.

Fortunately, there are good, low-cost alternatives which few authors think of -- the photo studios inside retail stores such as JCPenney and Target (not Sears or Walmart anymore). While most of their business involves babies and family Christmas cards, those studios will take pictures of solitary adults, often at ridiculously low prices (typically $7.99-$65).

The photographer will be thrilled to have a subject who doesn’t vomit or require funny faces to elicit a smile.

If you’re getting one picture, choose a plain white background which can later be altered using Photoshop. Get a CD-ROM, not a bunch of wallet-sized prints.

(below) An author photo should be of the author -- only.

(below) An author photo should not have any distracting elements.

(below) This poet's pic is blurry, has distracting elements, and a shirt that's much too big for him. Kenneth Cooper's book cover typography is similarly sloppy, and the book's price is guaranteed to kill sales: $16.95 for a mere 30 pages!

Very few poetry books are sold now, but maybe this one could rise above its abysmal Amazon sales ranking of 6,540,592 if Ken tried harder. The book was produced by America Star Books, the new name of the hated, discredited abysmal PublishAmerica. The company is notorious for publishing shitty books and disappointing its authors.

1 comment:

  1. great info--you have become our go to man, Michael N. Marcus!