After I buy a book, I check to see if there’s an author photo on the back flap. As I read, I check back at the picture from time to see if I can tell anything about the person who wrote the novel I’m enjoying. Not all of the books I buy include an image and if that is the case, I’m a little disappointed; however, I’m not too thrilled with a full picture that covers the whole back of the book.
Not all publishers want a picture included in the book, and there are times when a photo may not be appropriate. Would the picture of a middle-aged man or woman, on the flap of a young adult novel, scare readers away? Would it pull the reader from the page? Then again, what kind of photo would work on a dark paranormal?
One of my husband’s favorite authors, Clive Cussler, has had pictures taken with a car he owns and that’s included in the story. The Ted Dekker book I’m reading is about a serial killer and his picture has a dark shadow to it, which I think fits the tone very well. I’ve read that Neil Gaiman has a picture of himself in an old graveyard, to match the darkness of his stories.
How important is a good author photo anyway? According to blogger AJ, from Lulu (which is actually a self-publishing blog), states it’s very important. He says, “An author should have a good photo on hand because it makes you look more professional. The people at Book Expo America (New York) with great photos seemed better composed and more prepared. I understand that many authors have spent so much time working on their book and making it pristine, that when they’re done, the photo can be an afterthought…It helps to think of your book as a business card, and a bad photo is like handing someone a card written in crayon…A good author photo really helps with marketability. Almost always, when the media wants to highlight an author in a piece, they will ask for a hi-resolution image of the author and book cover.”
I do know that the picture you choose will be on your book for life, and it is something you need to think about. I’d only had a professional picture of myself done one time before publishing. When my first book came out in 2007, I paid $89 for 2 head shots. This month I got another set done by a photographer that advertised on Yollar, a $100 deal for $20. I don’t think I would’ve had professional pictures done if I’d not needed an author photo of myself, and now I have some nice pictures to pass down to my children and their children after I’m gone. I think I like that aspect of an author photo the best.