4 Reasons to Update Your Headshot

by Emilie Hendryx, @eacreativephoto

If you are a writer or author building a platform (or with an existing one) you need an updated headshot. Some may not agree with this statement citing excuses about not being photogenic, that they have a good headshot (that is yeas old), or that they don’t like having their photo taken, but I don’t think these are good reasons.

You may be thinking: Emilie, are you just advocating for updating your headshots because you’re a photographer?

 The answer is no! Sure, I’m a professional photographer who does headshots, but that’s not a factor in this post. Instead, I’ve compiled four things a quality headshot will do and why you should make getting updated headshots a priority.

An updated, quality headshot will…

1)Put your best face forward

Don’t underestimate the benefits of having a professional headshot in this busy—and cluttered— world of social media. This doesn’t mean that your headshot has to be stiff or staged but it should be taken by a professional photographer with a quality camera. Why? Because this shows your level of commitment and dedication to professionalism on your platform. It will make you stand out. Readers (or potential readers) will be drawn to a professional headshot over a selfie because of the quality of the photo.I’m not saying that you can’t use selfies or non-professional photos on your platform (I encourage this), but your profile photo should be something of quality that best shows your personality.

2)Draw attention

A professional, updated headshot will draw attention to your platform. Not only can you update your profile images on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads, and other social media sites, but you can also use the photos in blog posts and on your website to give a personal touch. In my own experience, as well as market research I’ve seen, personal images shared on social media tend to draw more attention than other posts. People want to see YOU.

3)Give a face to your brand

As writers, we are our brand. Yet another reason why it’s so important that our headshots are up to date. You wouldn’t expect your close friends to have a photo of you from five years ago and never see an updated photo, so you shouldn’t expect your followers/audience to be all right with an older photo. To build a genuine platform, you need to be genuine. Your audience will respond to honesty and transparency and that starts with showing the face behind the platform.

4)Make a personal connection

I believe that, since our society so heavily relies on social media, they are hungry for a personal connection that reaches beyond the sometimes-impersonal nature of online interaction. Why do they gravitate toward personal photos? They want to connect with us. They want to know us. And one way to do that is to show our faces. It’s not a trick or a ploy; it’s just another way to make a connection to those who interact with us.

What do you think? Have I convinced you yet? If not, here are a few additional excuses that I’ve heard. Some of these go deeper than just not wanting to have your picture taken.

  • Photos can be expensive.
    I completely understand this and would recommend taking advantage of specials (like what is offered at the ACWF Conference) or taking a chance on a new photographer whose prices are still low. Some photographers are also looking to enlarge their portfolio and, in exchange for letting them use your photos for promotion, may give free or discounted photos. Also consider the reality that this is part of your marketing budget.
  • You were hoping to lose weight or do something different with your hair etc.
    I get it—you want to look your best—but does that mean you aren’t embracing where you are right now? You must find the balance between understanding where you are, where you want to be, and embracing both.
  • You don’t like the way you look.
    This is probably the most common thing I hear from people as a reason why they don’t get new photos. They had one good photo taken ten years ago and that’s what they are sticking with because they liked themselves then. I think this is a mistake.
    It’s my belief that we must first seek our worth and identity in Christ before anything else. You may not love the way you look now due to age, weight, hair (or lack of), but guaranteed those who know and love you only see you. They don’t see what you could be, but who you are. Don’t let anyone (including yourself) tell you that you can’t get an updated headshot because you don’t look a certain way.

Build a genuine platform by showcasing who you are with an updated, quality headshot. Your audience will love seeing you!


Emilie Hendryx is a freelance writer, photographer, and graphic designer living in Northern California. She’s a member of ACFW, writes Young Adult fiction, and spends more time on Instagram than she probably should. With a heart for youth and a love of genuine social media connections, she’s built a thriving community around her Instagram platform and brand: CreateExploreRead. She’s got a soft spot in her heart for animals and a love for the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. In her spare time, you can find her designing fun, bookish items for her Etsy and Society6 shops all while drinking too much coffee.

3 Ways Your Cover Sells Your Novel

by Emilie Hendryx, @eacreativephoto

May name is Emilie and I judge books by their covers.

There. I’ve said it!

I know we’re all told not to, but I do and I’d wager you do as well. We’re told it’s what’s on the inside that matters, and in a way that’s true, but most of the time we won’t make it past a bad cover to see the inside.

I recently wrote a post on my blog titled The Truth About Book Cover Design. In it, I laid out specifics on what makes a book cover “bad” and why you shouldn’t try and design your cover yourself. In this post, I’d like to focus more specifically on why having a good book cover matters.

Before we get to that you must realize this simple concept first:

Your book cover design is essential to selling your book.

I want to stress this because some people will argue that the cover design isn’t as important as say…editing. I’d agree that editing is hugely important, but if your cover is (dare I say it?) ugly, many readers won’t venture past the cover to the content.

I know that there are loyal readers who will see past the cover, so this isn’t a blanket statement, but if you really want sales, my personal belief is that your cover is a major weapon in your selling-arsenal.

Let’s take a look at three aspects of how your cover sells your book.

1) The Looks

A stunning cover will sell a book on looks alone. This isn’t true for every reader, but I have interacted with many people online who will buy a book based solely on its cover, only to figure out what it’s about afterward. This may be shocking to some of you who are loyal “back cover copy” readers or even the poplar “first line/paragraph/chapter” judger, but it’s true. They do exist.

The Bookstagram Phenomenon
For those of you who don’t know, there is a whole community of “Bookstagrammers” on Instagram. Basically, the term “Bookstagram” means that an Instagram account is devoted exclusively to photography of books. I run such an account (@createexploreread) and a cover design is absolutely crucial in this setting. I can’t begin to recount how many times I’ve seen someone post that they love a cover and will purchase the book just because of that cover! On an aesthetic, visual platform like Instagram, having a good book cover design is crucial.

2) The Genre

How your book cover depicts the genre of your book will affect how, and to whom, it sells. I recently gave some feedback to a friend of mine on two cover options her publishing house had given her. They were both well done, professional designs and either would have looked lovely sitting on a shelf in Barnes & Noble. But there was a problem! The font the designer had chosen indicated a certain type of genre, one her book was not in.

The problem? Even having a wonderful cover isn’t enough if the image displayed tricks your reader. If I walked in to a bookstore and saw her book on a shelf, I might have passed right by it because the genre the font depicted isn’t a type of genre I prefer to read.

I may be able to more accurately describe what I don’t like about a cover based on the fact that I design them (and spend hours looking at books), but I’m sure you all have gut feelings about certain books based on their design. Why is this? Because a good designer will take into account the market for your book. They will create a cover to stand out as it fits in.

Isn’t that an oxymoron? It will stand out because it will be a unique and well-done design (hopefully!), but it also must fit within the proper genre. You don’t put dragons on the front of romance novels unless it’s a fantasy/romance. You don’t have someone in space if it’s strictly an historical novel. See what I mean?

Fun exercise: Go to your local bookstore and start to really see the covers. Visit different sections and take a look around. What types of design elements seem to be a common thread in a genre? What types of fonts are used? What colors, images, or shapes? Can you guess what genre a book is without reading the back cover copy or looking at the section title?

3) The Marketing

Your cover is part of your marketing. When done well, your book cover will attract your reader with its beauty and alert them to your genre. It will give them a taste of your novel and hopefully lure them in. Then the rest is up to you, the author, to seal the deal with your writing!

What does this mean for you, the author? That you must be able to trust your designer. If you’re hiring one yourself, make sure they understand your genre and the look you’re going for. If you’re with a traditional house, make sure your cover can “compare” on a bookshelf with other titles like it. A good designer will already be striving for these things.

Lastly, if you know your designer is good at what they do, trust their instincts!

What type of “cover judger” are you? Do you pay attention to book covers? What draws you to a cover?

If you’re interested in hearing a talk I did recently about this very subject, you can view it here.

TWEETABLES
3 Ways Your Cover Sells Your Novel by @eacreativephoto on @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2emc6RG

Your book cover design is essential to selling your book. #bookcover #coverdesign @eacreativephoto on @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2emc6RG


Many readers won’t venture past a bad cover to the content.~ @eacreativephoto on @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2emc6RG
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Emilie Hendryx
is a freelance writer, photographer, and graphic designer living in Northern California. She’s a member of ACFW, writes Young Adult fiction, and spends more time on Instagram than she probably should. With a heart for youth and a love of genuine social media connections, she’s built a thriving community around her Instagram platform and brand: CreateExploreRead. She’s got a soft spot in her heart for animals and a love for the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. In her spare time, you can find her designing fun, bookish items for her Etsy and Society6 shops all while drinking too much coffee.

Instagram: www.instagram.com/createexploreread
Blog: www.eahendryx.blogspot.com
Society6 shop: www.society6.com/emiliehendryx
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Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/eahendryx
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