Smorgasbord Public Relations for Authors Recycled- Part One – People buy People First – Profile Photo by Sally Cronin

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 recycled 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 over 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

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.

Image by dekadent85 from Pixabay

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 70 years old in a few weeks 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.

Image by Ben Kerckx from Pixabay

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 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.

I do appreciate that some authors might prefer an avatar or an illustration on the author pages, but I do feel that they are missing out on a key element of book marketing and that is making eye contact with their readers.

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 2023


About Sally Cronin

Sally Cronin is the author of sixteen books including her memoir Size Matters: Especially when you weigh 330lb first published in 2001. This has been followed by another fifteen books both fiction and non-fiction including multi-genre collections of short stories and poetry.

As an author she understands how important it is to have support in marketing books and offers a number of FREE promotional opportunities on her blog and across her social media. The Smorgasbord Bookshelf

Her podcast shares book reviews, poetry and short stories Sally Cronin Soundcloud

After leading a nomadic existence exploring the world, she now lives with her husband on the coast of Southern Ireland enjoying the seasonal fluctuations in the temperature of the rain.


60 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Public Relations for Authors Recycled- Part One – People buy People First – Profile Photo by Sally Cronin

  1. Great tips, Sally. I really think I must revisit my profile photos with this in mind. I just noticed my WordPress one, and I know one has sunglasses on!
    So that’s today’s work!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is definatley sound advice.
    I have changed my profile picture on my website.
    I know how we all hate pictures of ourselves but yes a necessary evil. I certainly need to have a few serious poses taken.
    Your profile picture looks great, by the way and a good example.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are right about the importance of pictures. Occasionally I get asked to accept a friend request on social media. If the person does not have a photograph of themselves I refuse the request. I reason that if there is a reason they wish to be anonymous, I don’t want to know.
      And it’s also difficult if people use photos of their pets or children. I don’t know if I know them from that.
      Anyway, I think it’s a bit dodgy to use your kids photos. Personally, I never use photos of other people without their express permission. And kids aren’t able to make an informed decision about it.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I love your posts about the business of books, Sally. The tips are excellent, and I look forward to the series rewind. I had a professional photo taken almost a decade ago, and I’m glad I did. I’ll hang onto it as long as I can get away with it. 🙂 Great post.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. What a thoughtful post Sally. There is no doubt that a smiling profile picture is liked by everyone. My picture is 10 years old now but I am never going to change it. 😀 Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. One of the first things I learned about being an author is that readers want to connect with you. I know that’s hard for many introverts, but I’m a big believer in putting my photo on the back of the book cover along with a very short bio. Thanks for sharing this tidbit, Sally! Great advice!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Sal, great article with great tips for creating an author pic. I think this year it may be time for my own new pic, lol. I get the importance of people identifying us in the digital world with our books, and I also get how many of us don’t like ourselves out there in the digital wilderness. I’m coming up to 10 years. Time to get creative with a new author pic. Oye! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – January 2nd – 8th 2023 – New Series, PR Authors, Big Band Era, Sir George Shearing, Karma, Culinary A-Z, Podcast, Book Reviews, The Brain, Funnies | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  8. I do know how important this is – and I’ve bookmarked it – but it’s something that makes me anxious! Having said that, the examples here speak for themselves and perhaps it’s time to be a bit braver and more visible.
    I’m still laughing about your Liam Neeson story. I’ve only had military and medical good-lookers with kind hearts, wealthy lifestyles and a fondness for their elderly mothers and/or pets. 🤣

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Informative and helpful, Sally! I keep changing mine as I get older but have kept one I created online from a photo j took. I do a lot of selfies and choose the best one that makes me the most presentable. Ha! Can’t stay young forever! Your photo is lovely! I love scarves too! I should try the next one with a colorful scarf. Thanks for sharing this excellent post. 💕hugs

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Great advice, Sally. Thanks for sharing this series with all of us. I’m not promoting my books any longer, but I am sure your wisdom will be invaluable to many.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. That is a good article and more important than I give these things credit. My author pics are old throwaways from holidays etc. But I think that you are right, and I should pay attention. Lol though were I to wear lipstick and a bright Scarff people will talk….

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: Writer’s Tips – January Edition – #Writing Solo Life, Fonts, Writing the End, Author Bio, #Blogging Tips –

Comments are closed.