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Your profile picture is the first thing people are going to notice. What does your profile picture say about you? Can people see at a glance what kind of writing you do? Does your profile picture scream non-fiction, paranormal/urban fantasy, suspense? It should at least hint at the kind of writing you do AND look professional.
You don't have to pay big bucks for a professional photographer, save that for when you're making the big bucks. I just had a coworker with a good eye and a nice camera take a few shots on a lunch break. Voila. You'd never know I didn't pay a cent for my profile picture.
It's important to use the same profile picture on all your social media accounts so you're easily recognized. And use a current photo. I go to conferences and people seem surprised. "You look just like your picture on Facebook." Isn't that the point?
So, let's lose all the sofas growing out of the backs of our heads, stop hiding behind books or pets. You want to appear approachable and friendly -- someone a reader would like to get to know. All it takes is a bit of fore-thought, and a friend or a camera with a timer feature to pull this off.
Here's a fun exercise. I've compiled a collection of Facebook profile pictures from bestselling authors. I think all these authors have done a really fabulous job of portraying what kind of writing they do (their brand) visually. Only one writes for the Christian market - hope it's not hard to guess which one.
No cheating - take a minute and see if you can guess what kind of books these writers publish. How do they tip you off? Are you only looking at their clothes? What about their stance? Their facial expression?
Here's the answers - see if you got it right.
Ted Dekker writes dark fantasy and thrillers/suspense for the Christian market.
Laurell Hamilton writes urban fantasy -- best known for her Anita The Vampire Slayer series.
Jayne Ann Krentz writes womens fiction/suspense, and previously romance.
Ryan Winfield writes womens fiction/erotica.
Lee Child writes suspense/police thrillers - best known for his Jack Reacher series.
Seth Godin often writes about marketing, but is known as a forward thinker and ideas guy.
What does your profile picture say about your writing/brand? Think I'm way off? Do you agree that a profile picture should do all of this?
Lisa Hall-Wilson is an award-winning freelance writer and syndicated columnist in the Canadian faith-based market. She writes dark fantasy novels and blogs at www.lisahallwilson.com. Lisa's teaching a class on January 25, 2014 on How to Interview Like A Journalist. Use code Lisa20 for 20% off registration price.