What Does Your AUTHOR PICTURE Say about You?



This is the question that authors should be asking when trying to find or create a good author picture.

Your author pic can:

  • help to reinforce the message that your product page conveys
  • help to lend credibility at the time of purchase
  • help with author branding


The picture shown next to the author’s biography is worth some thought, time, and effort. I’m not saying that customers are out to scrutinize the author page. But when customers do encounter the author photo, it can play a valuable role:

  • When I’m looking at a product page and I feel undecided, while I’m thinking it over, I continue browsing the product page. As I scroll down, I naturally see the author’s photo. Sometimes, I see the photo, and it sends a great visual message (see below for examples). But sometimes a golden opportunity is lost. When a customer is on the fence about buying your book, you want to send the right message to the customer.
  • When I want to find more books by the author, I find the author page. In addition to finding a list of other books, I see the author picture. This visual message comes at another pivotal moment, where I’m thinking about buying more books from the author.
  • I often find the author’s photo when I reach the end of a book. This is yet another occasion where I may be thinking about finding more of the author’s books.
  • And for all you authors who have blogs and social media, I see your author pictures several times every day. A good author picture is a valuable part of your branding process.

In the past, I have experimented with my author photo, and found that it could make a very significant impact on sales. One time I put up a picture that cut the daily sales on most of my books way down (while for two books that were related to the picture, sales went up). When I put the original picture back up, sales immediately returned to normal. A few weeks later, I found what I believed was a better picture, and sales improved significantly.

But there have been a couple of times where a new picture scarcely made a difference. It depends on the pictures. Sometimes two different pictures make roughly the same impact on the customer.

The right picture can help to send the right message, and if everything else on your product page is favorable, it can make a difference. On the other hand, the wrong picture can deter sales.


Here are some messages that an author picture can convey visually to customers:

  • This author looks knowledgeable. This is a great message for nonfiction authors.
  • This author looks businesslike.
  • This author appears family oriented. This can make a difference if your target audience includes parents (that’s the case with children‘s authors).
  • This author seems funny. Important for authors of humorous books.
  • This author has personality. This depends strongly on your audience. With most nonfiction, for example, you want to convey professionalism and be taken seriously: You don’t want too much personality to take away from that. But with some fiction genres and a few nonfiction subjects, some degree of personality can add the right touch. This is the kind of thing I would experiment with to try to get it right.
  • This author has experience. This is often important with both fiction and nonfiction (and the younger the author’s appearance, the harder this is to convey).

There are many other kinds of messages that an author picture can send. The first question to ask is, what message do you want your author picture to send. Then you want to work to create an author picture that sends the desired message. Finally, you need to get feedback from your target audience to find out if your author picture accomplishes the task.


You need to ask fans, prospective readers, followers, etc. the following question:

“What’s the first word that comes to your mind when you see my author picture?”

Don’t make it multiple choice. Don’t plant the word you have in their head. If most of your audience immediately says (with a positive reaction) the word you have in mind, you nailed it.


  • Change up your author picture when sales are slow. Don’t mess with your Author Central page when things are going well.
  • When you create your author picture, you need to consider such things as lighting, shadows, resolution, aspect ratio, red-eye, bags under your eyes, five o’clock shadow (not necessarily bad), your hair, camera angle, how close to the camera to stand, how much to zoom in or out, what the background looks like and how it works with you and your clothing, etc. Use a search engine to learn more about the art of creating an author photo.
  • Take several pictures and carefully sort through them. Don’t be afraid to start over.
  • You don’t necessarily need a photo or a picture of yourself. I’ve seen many alternatives (some good, some not so much). You might find a picture of an item related to the kinds of books that you write. You might use a variation of your cover or logo. If you absolutely don’t want to show your own face (or if you use a pen name and want to remain anonymous), there are options out there.
  • Spend some time browsing Author Central photos of other authors. You will see a variety of ideas, and you may learn from a few mistakes, too. Something you see might give you inspiration for your own picture.


At Amazon’s Author Central (available in the US, UK, and a few other countries, but not all of them—and you must visit each separately), you can do more than just add a photo. A complete Author Central page can be impressive:

  • author picture
  • author biography
  • author video (you can’t show book trailers on the product page, but you can have a trailer on your author page)
  • from the author (several possibilities and ways to utilize this space)
  • pictures of your author books at the top (in addition to the vertical list; this is automatic)
  • additional author pictures and recent blog feeds under the top row of covers


Following are a few examples of author pages. Note how mine ends with just my name and not all the funny numbers that show up by default: You can do this from the Author Page tab (look for Author Page URL). This is great for business cards or other places where customers can’t click on a link, but must manually type it in later.

There are many other authors whom I know who have great author pages. Let me apologize to all of you whose name isn’t on my list.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
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  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

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Eradicate Negativity: Your Marketing Depends on It

Happy Sad

Negative vs. Positive

Reading should be a positive experience, right?

You want to create a positive shopping experience and a positive reading experience.

And writing is a positive experience, right?

(If not, why on earth are you doing it?)

So should publishing and marketing be positive.

But not everything and everyone you come across will seem positive.

And you will definitely encounter people and issues that will challenge you to stay positive.

  • Don’t let ’em bring you down.
  • Don’t let it make you negative.

You want to appear positive when you interact with potential readers. Even with fans.

The best way to appear positive is to be positive.

  • It’s easy to fall into a negative mindset.
  • It’s often not easy to stay positive.

But it’s so worth consciously working toward this. You can do it. 🙂

Author Branding

You’re striving to build a positive image as an author.

A critical review will challenge you to remain positive.

Cynics will challenge you.

Failed authors will challenge you.

Many people and occasions will challenge you to stay positive.

Don’t appear negative on your blog, in person, on social media, or anywhere.

  • What will readers think if they read about you complaining about a review on your blog?
  • What will readers think if they see you behaving negatively on a discussion forum?

You’re in the public eye now. Your image is at stake.

  • What will readers think if they meet you and you appear very positive about your book?
  • What will people think if you always come across as positive, even when you’re dealing with adversity?

Win your battles to stay positive. Build a positive reputation.

Each challenge is an opportunity to shine.

It’s not just your book and image that matter.

  • If authors complain about Kindles and readers hear this, why would they want to buy one?
  • If authors complain about Amazon and readers hear this, does it make them want to shop for books?

Positive Marketing

Staying positive has its rewards:

  • Visualize a positive outcome. It helps motivate you to work toward your goals.
  • When your positive mindset is challenged, think of it as an important battle toward long-term success. Win this battle by staying positive and making positive decisions. Don’t let this battle turn you negative and impede your chances for a bright future.
  • You’re more likely to show confidence when you stay positive.
  • You’re more likely to put your best effort into something when you feel positive about the outcome.
  • When readers see your positivity, it impacts their buying decisions.

But challenged your positive mindset will be.

And in some cases, it won’t be easy. You’re likely to feel, “Come on! Not again! That’s more than enough,” but you just have to be that much more determined.

Think to yourself, “Bring it on. Is that the best you’ve got?” When you get through this battle, things will start going your way.

Negativity definitely has its disadvantages.

Interact with positive people. Add positive authors to your circles. Avoid negativity.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

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Authors, You Are Amazon

Me yes you

Why You

Because your book is available for sale at Amazon.

Amazon does sell many other products, but most customers think of books when they think of Amazon.

Millions of customers will buy other books besides yours, but some will (hopefully) buy your book.

When those customers read your book, your book—for that period of time—represents Amazon.

If the customer enjoys the shopping and reading experience that your book provides, the customer doesn’t just think highly of your book and you, but Amazon, too.

A poor buying or reading experience produces the opposite effect.

Of course, you have your own reasons for wanting to create a positive reading experience: You want the customer to recommend your book to others and to look for more of your books.

You want other authors’ books to create positive reading experiences. The more customers who enjoy shopping for books at Amazon and reading those books, the more likely those customers are to buy more books from Amazon and recommend Amazon to their friends, which improves the sales potential of your own books.

So it’s in your interest to support your fellow authors when they need and ask for help. (Offering unsolicited advice isn’t always received well, though.)

It’s also in your own best interest to help brand a positive image for Amazon, Kindle, and CreateSpace. The more customers who shop on Amazon, the better for all authors.

It’s even in your best interest to have good things to say about books similar to yours because those books are likely to appear on your customers-also-bought lists, and even if they don’t, most customers buy multiple books that are similar, not just one of them. Similar books can thrive together (or they can sink together).

When you hear negative things about Amazon, Kindle, or CreateSpace, take a moment to calmly and concisely say something good—and then let it be. Don’t get into a confrontation. Brand a positive image for yourself, too.

If you ask a customer what Amazon is, he or she will probably mention that it’s a huge website with an enormous selection of well-priced books.

But that’s not how the customer feels about Amazon. How the customer feels depends on shopping experiences and reading experiences. Each sale of your book contributes to a customer’s perception of Amazon.

You are Amazon.

We are Amazon.

Even the customer is Amazon. Anyone who enjoys the great selection, convenience, and prices benefits from helping to brand a positive image for Amazon.

Of course, indie authors must be thankful for the opportunities that Amazon has created.

Indie authors account for a significant share of Amazon’s book sales.

Indies are Amazon, too.

And the best indie books have shown that they can create wonderful reading experiences.

Beyond Amazon

You’re more than Amazon.

If you sell books on Nook, Kobo, Sony, Smashwords, etc., you’re all of these.

Wherever your book is sold, your book represents that retailer.

You want to brand a positive image for all of these outlets, and for whatever publishing service you use.

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.