The definition of Public Relations in business is “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between businesses and the public”
In the past my focus has been on book marketing, which did include how to reach potential readers with blogs, social media and as part of the writing community. Whilst this series will revisit those platforms along the way it is an opportunity to focus on some key areas of our public profiles that might influence the public to buy our books.
The focus this time is on you.. the author.
I have been promoting authors on and offline now for twenty years including glitzy book launches in Madrid and Marbella with flowing champagne and local VIPs, on the run gangsters, birds of prey and an Elvis impressionist (don’t ask). This meant there was quite a bit of attention from local and national press and the first thing that they asked for was photographs of the author as well as their details… then asked about the book!
Whilst those days are mainly behind us due to the digital revolution and the ability for all of us to reach a worldwide market at the click of a button, the need to get ourselves noticed and to remain in the public eye is even more important.
With 20,000 Ebooks a week being uploaded to Amazon and millions of books within our chosen genres on the shelves, it is a challenge to be noticed. You need to use everything in your author’s toolbox to get you and your book in the spotlight.
The first important key point to accept and embrace is that as writers we are in business with a responsibility for all processes involved in the research, writing, editing production and marketing of our books
And the second key point is that this responsibility includes the need to build a mutually beneficial relationship between us and our potential readers.
Most of us do not have the luxury of thousands of pounds in our marketing budget, nor do we have the benefit of a PR department of a major publishing house trumpeting the news of our book from the tree tops nationally and internationally.
However what we do have is a number of platforms that can assist us in doing that for ourselves.
If you are a new author and would like a free copy of my Book Marketing and Blog Set Up pdf then please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
In the first posts in this series I am going to focus on your image on the store front for your business worldwide and where the majority of your books, even print with Amazon POD, will be sold.
The Profile Photograph
The one image that is plastered across your sites including website, blog, Amazon author pages worldwide, Goodreads, Social Media and Google when you are searched for… is your profile photograph.
At my age I take some convincing to have a new online photo taken, but after many years of having them taken for my previous existence, I know how important this early impression is with those who are meeting me for the first time online.
What are people looking for in a profile photograph?
I had some of my career photos taken by a professional photographer who was experienced in taking profile shots for senior managers and he was quite clear about what was needed to ensure his subjects were viewed as trustworthy, open, professional, attention orientated but approachable.
You might think that being a writer and therefore part of the arts, this allows for a more relaxed approach to profile photographs, and whilst that might be true, people buy people first and they will be looking to connect with you face to face and the elements they will be looking for are very much the same.
This is borne out by research and even today most of those key elements I mentioned still apply. You might find this article interesting, regarding a research study into what makes a great profile photograph.
How to appear likable, competent, and influential
PhotoFeeler,, a neat tool that lets you get feedback on your profile pictures via feedback from actual people who vote on your picture, shared their learnings from over 60,000 ratings of competence, likability, and influence that were left on photos submitted to the PhotoFeeler app. You can log in and run tests on your own photograph although they do require credits for the most extensive tests.
Here’s a quick overview of what they learned that might apply to an author’s profile photo
- Don’t block your eyes. Sunglasses drop likeability score, and hair, glare, and shadows drop competence and influence.
- Show your teeth when you smile. A closed mouth smile has a small increase likability. A laughing smile increases likability even more, but you lose ground in competence and influence.
- The best smile, according to PhotoFeeler, is a smile with teeth. This leads to gains across the board in likability (nearly twice that of a closed-mouth smile), competence, and influence.
- Head and shoulders (or head to waist). Close-ups on just headshots brought scores down, as did full body shots.
Read the rest of this article: Best Profile Picture Science, Reserch, psychology
These days with excellent cameras on mobile phones and with some quick hacks you can take great profile photographs at home… but get someone else to take the photos and take plenty in different poses and with different clothing to get one you feel happy with.
- Whilst you might not usually wear make-up it is a good idea to use a light foundation that evens out skin tone. (even for the guys)
- Blusher can define your cheeks a little more
- Lipstick creates some definition
- A colourful scarf or a bright shirt of top creates warmth to the photo.
- To even tones, enhance slightly, and whiten teeth a little (we don’t want to blind our potential readers!) there is photoshop!!!
Reasons we don’t like having our real face out there.
I am 68 years old and know that I have cracks and crevices that show the life I have lived,and I understand if authors feel that our ageist society, and in particularly our readers might hold it against us.
To my mind when I see someone who is older, smiling and proud of who they are, it makes me take into consideration their years of life experience, wisdom and all that they might have to offer me.
However if you have a younger photograph of yourself that has all the elements of a eye-catching profile image, then use it.. Be prepared however when your birthday comes up on Facebook telling everyone that you are 99 years old, questions might be raised!! Make a note to take the year off your FB profile and all will be fine…I am.so tempted to use this one age 7!
This is an excellent guide if you are taking your photos at home: How to take a professional head shot for your profile free and at home.
I am not a bestselling author (yet) but I am in business as a writer. I hope that my profile photo is just one element that conveys that I take this business seriously to the potential readers who visit my Amazon Page, Goodreads and social media.
This is just my opinion and it is not carved in stone… but I do believe if you visit the Amazon pages of the top selling authors past and present, they in most cases, have profile images that make a connection with their readers and therefore encourage a further exploration of their work.
Next time a look at biographies and how much or little you need to share to gain a potential readers attention. Whereas it might be 47 seconds to impress with your profile photo… you have about one minute to get your message across in your bio.
©Sally Cronin 2021
About Sally Cronin
I have been a storyteller most of my life (my mother called them fibs!). Poetry, song lyrics and short stories were left behind when work and life intruded, but that all changed in 1996.
My first book Size Matters was a health and weight loss book based on my own experiences of losing 70kilo. I have written another thirteen books since then on health and also fiction including three collections of short stories. My latest collection is Life is Like A Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet.
I am an Indie author and proud to be one. My greatest pleasure comes from those readers who enjoy my take on health, characters and twisted endings… and of course come back for more.
As a writer I know how important it is to have help in marketing books.. as important as my own promotion is, I believe it is important to support others. I offer a number of FREE promotional opportunities on my blog and linked to my social media. If you are an author who would like to be promoted to a new audience of dedicated readers, please contact me via my blog. All it will cost you is a few minutes of your time. Look forward to hearing from you.
You can find out more about how to join the Cafe and Bookstore here:
Cafe and Bookstore Free Book Promotion.