Welcome to the final installment in our “crash course” on creating an author media kit. Your media page will offer a quick overview of you and your book. It also will make it easier for others to promote you to their audiences.
Now, we’ll look at the images you should have in your kit…
Your Author Photo
If you want the media to help you grow your audience, it helps to let people see what you look like. You don’t have to be a cover model, you don’t have to be glamourous—you just need to be human.
Even if you mainly want media opportunities that don’t require you to be on camera (like podcasts or website interviews), you still need that one author photo. It helps people connect with you as a person and will help you stand out from all the faceless names.
In most cases, when the media asks for a photo, what they want is a simple, clear image of you looking at the camera. For this one photograph, you don’t have to hire a photographer. If you or a friend has a smartphone, that’s probably a good enough camera for your needs.
Again—we’re talking here about one picture. I’m not saying “don’t hire a photographer”—but you don’t necessarily need to hire one for this particular image. (In fact, if you do hire a photographer and he or she wants to take photos that have some “flare,” that can work against you.)
Author Photos: 6 Dos and Don’ts
#1 - DO have a current photo.
There are all kinds of reasons you may be using an outdated image. If you want to be taken seriously as an author now, then you need an author photo that represents what you look like now.
#2 - DON’T repurpose candid / family / vacation / party photos.
You need a dedicated, specific photo that’s just you. Even if you have great photos of yourself at an event, those are supporting materials. When the media wants your “author photo,” most are asking for a simple headshot.
#3 - DO have good framing and lighting.
Offer ample space around your head and shoulders, which allows the media can crop it into the shape they want. There should be more light in front of you than from behind you.
#4 - DON’T strike a pose.
Remember, the media wants a simple headshot.
- No hands around your face
- No leaning on something
- No slouching over a keyboard
- No nuzzling your cat
When photographers ask for this kind of pose, they’re trying to be stylish. The media doesn’t want “stylish.” Once you have a plain author headshot, you’re free to do all the poses you want. Just not for your headshot.
#5 - DON’T wear a hat or unusual clothing.
It’s easy to fall for the idea of trying to be clever or distinctive by wearing clothes that make a “statement.” As with all the other items on this list—wait until after you’ve already got your basic author headshot. Once you have that out of the way, you’re free to play dress up all you want. For most media, all they want is the headshot.
#6 - DO make it available in both high resolution and low resolution.
Different types of media need your author photo in one of two sizes:
- A large, high-resolution (hi-res) file
- A small, low-resolution (lo-res) file.
If you only offer the small photo, those media that need a larger one will have to blow it up, which makes it blurry. (That’s bad.)
HERE ARE SOME EXAMPLES FOR YOU...
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
On her website, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s official photo is big—and offers enough background that the media can crop this image into whatever shape they need. Find her photo on her website here: http://www.chitradivakaruni.com/author-photo/
Joanna Penn’s website offers her official photo in a few different formats. Again, there’s enough background to crop the image into different shapes, depending on the media outlet’s format. Find the photo on her website here: https://www.thecreativepenn.com/about/
Chris Well (yes, that’s me)
Here’s the official image from my own media page. If someone needs a larger file, they can click it open into another window to find the hi-res version. See the photo on my website here. https://buildyourbrandacademy.com/p/media
On my website, I also share photos of me speaking—but these aren’t my primary author photo.
Your Book Cover
Promoting a book? It’s a no-brainer that you need to show your book cover. But there’s a right way to do it—and a wrong way.
Now, this article doesn’t include best practices of the actual cover design. (That’s a topic for BookWorks Book Design expert Joel Friedlander.) What we’re talking about here is how to make that image available so that the media can show it to other people.
Your media materials should include a clear and simple copy of your book cover. Not a doctored-up version that blinks or glows or spins—just a standard book cover.
Book Cover Images: 5 Dos and Don’ts
#1 - DO present a plain version of your cover.
Your primary book cover image needs to be available in a straight-on format. No 3-D effects. No curves.
#2 - DON’T add any effects.
Your book cover image needs to be pure and unfiltered. No re-coloring. No halo effects. No image filters. The file should look like the actual book cover.
#3 - DO make it available in hi-res and lo-res.
As with your author photo, your book cover image needs to be available as both a high-resolution file and a low-resolution file. Think of the smaller one as the thumbnail, and they can click on it for the larger one.
#4 - DO put your most recent book front and center.
Your media materials need to include your most recent book. The media shouldn’t have to hunt around or need to ask about your latest book.
#5 - DO have the current version of that cover.
Make sure your media materials don’t include an outdated version of your book cover. If the media grabs it off your site and posts that wrong cover, don’t expect them to go back and fix it. That was your mistake, and they’ve already moved on to the next thing.
Book Cover Image Examples...
On the book page of Zetta Elliott’s author website, you can see that the book covers aren’t marred by an attempt to be fancy. If I’m going to interview her or feature one of her books, I can grab the plain book cover and use it in my article or post.
On her main books page, you can click on the book you want…
That leads you to a specific page about the book…
Click on that book cover, and you’re able to get the high-resolution version of that book cover…
See her book page here. http://www.zettaelliott.com/books
Here’s how novelist Celeste Ng shows the book covers on her website. Again, the covers are straight-ahead images without filters or effects. Find her book covers on her website here. https://www.celesteng.com/book-groups/
Other Images Are Fine, But Not on Your Author Media Page
Please understand the intent of this article. I’m not saying that your website can’t also show candid photos or a 3-D version of your book cover. But these should be in addition to your plain author photo and your plain book cover.
Each media outlet has its own design specs. They need to fit you into their format—they’re not going to change their format for you.
What Are You Going to Do Now?
Now that we’ve reached the end of our series, how does your media kit look? Which of these pieces do you still need to create or update on your website? Share your examples and ask your questions below!
Want to dive deeper into how to create your media kit? Check out my blog post series The Ultimate Guide to Creating an Author Media Kit.
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