Friday, November 13, 2020

Authors: Control your ego. Your face does not belong on your front cover unless you are famous or have written ten books

Unless you are known for writing, murder, politics, con­ning people out of billions, or winning Olympic medals, keep your name and portrait a lot smaller than your book’s title. Even better: Keep your face off the front cover.

  • Later on, if you become famous, you can revise the covers of your earlier books.
  • Even if you are famous, your photo does not have to be on your book covers.
  • Some powerful covers have no graphic elements at all.
  • If you use a portrait, have it taken by a professional photographer, with no distracting junk in the background.
  • An author photo should be of the author—only: no kids, lovers or pets unless they are important to a particular book.
  • Remember: A book cover is an advertisement for the book. It should contain elements that attract potential readers. A photo of an unknown author will probably attract nobody!
  • Unless your face is recognizable, it does not belong on your front cover. Use the space for something more powerful, such as a larger title.
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 pick up the check.

Fortunately, there are good, low-cost alternatives which few authors think of: the photo studios inside retail stores such as JCPenney and Walmart  (not Sears anymore). Some shopping malls have portrait studios, too. 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).

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

[above/left] This is my approximate 35th book, and it's very personal, so it's fine for my face to grace the cover. If I was writing about chocolate cake or the Peloponnesian Wars, my face would be on the back

[above/right} My book about Donald Trump has him on the cover. He is more famous than I am (but I am better-looking.)
More about book covers, The Look of a Book: what makes a book cover good or bad and how to design a good one 

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