In “Every Author Needs a Bio,” I said the best time to write our author bio is now,before we need it. The same holds true in getting a professional headshot. Not only will we need one for our book jacket, but we’ll also need one prior to publication for PR, marketing, online profiles, promotion, and even business cards.
Don’t put this off until the last minute because a good headshot requires planning: finding an experienced photographer, scheduling the photoshoot, locating the right setting, determining what look we want to achieve, and fine-tuning our appearances, such as hair, makeup (for the ladies, but maybe men, too—seriously), clothes, and accessories. While a great photographer may help guide these decisions, many will not; they’ll set a date and start clicking.
Twice, I’ve tapped a friend with a nice camera. Although the results were good, they weren’t good enough for a book cover—both in terms of the quality of the picture (resolution, lighting, and background) and the quality of the pose. While I did use them for social media, websites, and other nonessential situations, they weren’t acceptable for professional marketing.
Three times I’ve hired professional photographers. The results directly related to cost. The one that charged the highest sitting fee produced the most usable shots. These photos had the quality to appear on a book jacket. I used her pictures for several years, but with a change of glasses and a few more gray hairs, I eventually had to update them.
The second photographer, at half the price, produced a couple of usable shots. I used one for my websites, business cards, and book proposals, even for an e-book, but it wasn’t quite good enough for a printed book.
The third photographer, the cheapest of the three, produced no usable pictures. I wasted my money and time. (She did do a few retakes, which I used for online publicity shots.)
Give some thought to having a professional photo taken; next week I’ll share seven pointers in getting the most out of your photoshoot.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.