I get asked this question a lot … Many authors aren’t sure whether to get their photo professionally taken, whether the photo should be a close-up or not, what the background should be, etc… Hopefully I can answer some of those questions here.
First, I want to clarify that what we’re talking about here is the “primary photo” of your website — the one that will appear on your homepage and/or in the site design. There can be a slew of secondary photos that might appear on your bio page or events page, but those are a completely different beast. The primary photo is the most important (and should be most professional looking). The other photos are more casual. They’re more about letting your fans get a better sense of who you are outside of writing. So those could be pictures of you with your family, you on vacation, you at a book signing. Those can be just about anything.
But as far as the picture on your homepage, there are some definite do’s and don’ts.
If you have a picture on your book jacket, DO use the same one on your website. That may be the only way someone knows you, so it’s good to let them make that connection with you again on the website.
DON’T go for a glamour shot (unless you’re a romance novelist). It can be viewed as a little corny and over-the-top.
DO have your photo taken by someone who is good at photography. If you have a friend or family member who has an eye for taking pictures, then ask them to do it. Or, if you have any doubts, go to a professional.
DON’T go through some old photos of yourself to try and find one that will work on your website. That’s a form of recycling that just doesn’t work. Make sure the photo you take is specifically for the purpose of your website.
DO scour the websites of other writers in your genre and see what kinds of pictures they use. Are they photos of them from the neck up? Are they smiling or do they have a serious expression on their face? Is the background related to the subject matter?
We’ve worked with many different types of authors and have seen many different types of photos. You can browse them all on our clients’ author websites. Find ones you like and get your ideas from there!