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David Farland’s Daily Kick in the Pants—Taking Responsibility for Your Author Photo and Biography

As an author, your appearance matters far more than it should. If you look at people who are New York Times Bestselling Authors, you’ll note that the majority of them are quite attractive. I’m convinced that this isn’t a fluke.

Taking Responsibility for Your Author Photo and Biography

Author Photo—a picture put on the back of a book in an effort to create a link between the author and reader.

Author Bio—a piece of prose, mostly fictitious, placed on the back cover of a book in order to promote sales. It is usually inversely proportional in length to how ugly the author is.

A few years ago, I happened to be with some editors who were talking about the effect that an author’s photo has on sales. One editor mentioned that she had a young lady come in with a manuscript that was marginally publishable, but the woman was so beautiful that she took the breath away from anyone who met her. Ultimately, they didn’t publish her book. However, a competitor just down the road did publish the book, and put the author’s picture on the cover. The book became a bestseller.


As an author, your appearance matters far more than it should. If you look at people who are New York Times Bestselling Authors, you’ll note that the majority of them are quite attractive. I’m convinced that this isn’t a fluke.


A couple of years ago, a friend of mine published a first novel. I noticed that he had an excellent photo, one that made him look like a male model. He said, “Yeah, it took several photo shoots to get that one.”


Unfortunately, for some of us, there isn’t much that we can do. Now, I’m not grotesque by any means, but I’m afraid that I’d only look good if I got say $50,000 worth of plastic surgery. I’d have to pare down my nose and ears, enlarge my chin, get rid of my wrinkles, cap my teeth, and of course get some hair implants. Even then, I’d need the help of a special-effects artist. I once considered hiring one of my friends, a male model, to pose for the backs of my books. We use pseudonyms, after all, so why not use stand-in models?


When your first novel comes out, make sure that you get an attractive photo. Don’t go out in your barn and take a snapshot. Instead, if you’re a woman, go get a makeover and fix your hair. Hire a professional photographer and snap a couple hundred pictures.


If you’re a male, do the same. Seriously, guys, a little makeup probably won’t kill us.


I’m not going to give you advice on how to look, but do study the pictures of bestselling authors, and I think you’ll notice that most of them try to look relaxed and natural. They’re often dressed nicely, and their surroundings suggest wealth and affluence.


Similarly, your author bio is important. Most of us professional authors tend to put out a rather bland portrayal of our lives, our educations, a list of our bestselling books, and so on. We then let the bio ride for book after book after book. I haven’t done more than update my biography in several years.


But my wife pointed out to me last night that she had noticed that one author was “rewriting his biography with each book.” He was changing it, adding new details, trying to give returning readers a little bit more information about himself so that he could connect with them more strongly.


That’s brilliant!


As authors we should all be doing that. We should each be sending in new bios with each novel that we write.

Happy Writing!

David Farland

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