The face behind the words

You’d think that the one profession where you don’t have to worry about your physical appearance would be writing but in this age of vanity an image can make all the difference. That said, looking good in a picture has nothing to do with the quality of the story. So how important is it to put your face to your writing? Does an attractive writer get more sales? Are people less likely to buy your book if it doesn't have an author photo on the back cover?  I recently read a few articles on the subject of author photo's and it got me thinking.

When it comes to putting your face to your work is it better to be anonymous or should your image be part of your marketing plan?

Reasons to use an author photo

  • It builds a connection between writer and reader. Having a face to put with the name can help readers feel like they know the author and make them more inclined to want to read their books.
  • It builds the author as a brand. As a writer a great deal of your work is promoting it in public. Your face becomes your company logo.
  • The right image can make the sale. Obviously it depends on the genre and topic of the book but the author photo can sometimes be the decision maker when a reader is choosing between two books on the same topic especially with non fiction books.
Reasons NOT to use an author photo
  • You would need to 'photoshop' your appearance in order not to scare your readers. 
  • Your photo isn't suited to your target readership e.g. if you're obviously in your latter years and your target reader is a for example a thirteen year old.
Jane Austen
As Helen Trayler, the managing director of Wordsworth, once said of Jane Austen “She’s the most inspiring, readable author, but to put her on the cover wouldn’t be very inspiring at all.”

I never really notice when a book doesn't have an author photo but I do look for one especially if I enjoy the book. I'm compelled to want to know more about who wrote it... including what they look like. 

When it comes to author photo's there is no real yes or no answer. Writers should after all be judged by their writing merit and not by their appearance. Just as a book shouldn't be judged by its cover neither should it be by its author photo.

What are your thoughts?


  1. Informative article. I learned from it. It is important to put a description on the specific image?
    Thanks for the information.

    A webmaster of online photo book


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