How to Tell if Your Author Photo Is Sending the Right Message

How to Tell if Your Author Photo Is Sending the Right Message

Today, I’m posting over on AuthorCulture, with the post “Is Your Author Photo Sending the Right Message?” Here’s an excerpt:

Last night, I finished reading Kameron Hurley’s “bugpunk” novel God’s War, and between the book itself and the compelling author’s bio (referring to her attempts to not die “spectacularly”), I was curious about the author. So I googled for images under her name and found several pix of her. In the old days, this would be unthinkable. How many of Charles Dickens’s or Jane Austen’s readers knew what they looked like? Nowadays, an author photo is a vital part of the promotional package. And, like it or not, your author’s photo is going to influence your reader’s opinions of both you as a person and you as an author.

In perusing a magazine a few weeks ago, I glanced through the front matter, which contained headshots and bios of some of the contributors. Two photos, side by side, offered a stark contrast of how and how not to have your author photo taken.

One the one hand, we had an obviously professional headshot of a smiling woman standing against a picturesque red barn. She was dressed casually but professionally, her neat hair and makeup highlighted beneath appropriate lighting.

One the other hand, we had what looked like a picture taken on the author’s web cam. This author looked like he had just gotten out of bed and had yet to find his way to the nearest Starbucks. He didn’t make eye contact with the camera, which resulted in a glazed, disoriented look. He was wearing a T-shirt. The setting behind him was a messy desk. And the faint lighting cast a shadowy and gloomy pall over the picture.

Two author headshots. Two totally different presentations.

So how can you ensure your author photo is sending the right message to your readers (and employers)? Here are four ways!

Keep reading!

How to Tell if Your Author Photo Is Sending the Right Message

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.


  1. This is rather frightening because I have always considered myself unphotogenic.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      A good photographer can make all the difference. Anyway, it’s not about being magazine cover model material. It’s about being personable, genuine, and professional.

  2. Mic Meguiar says

    Hi Katie,
    When I click on the link to the AuthorCulture site it won’t allow me access because I am not deemed an “invited reader.” I know this is an old post but I would still love to read it. Can you help?

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