Look to your Image!

So you’ve planned your writing goals for the year but what about you marketing goals? They are equally – if not more – important and they certainly demand much more soul searching and constructive thinking. But before you get down to the minutiae remember – Your most important marketing tool is YOU!

First impressions

We all know how our novel’s cover must reflect the kind of story our reader can expect – a dark mysterious cover for a psychological thriller; a colourful cartoon for a cosy or fun chick lit and, if it’s one of a series, it needs to follow the style of the earlier books. So too with your image. If your potential readers look at your Facebook author page or the home page of your website you have only seconds to grab them and let them know what kind of writer you are. They don’t want to click to your About Me or books pages.

Your image matters!

What do you want it to achieve? Who is it aimed at? Your existing readers or to attract new ones? Is it simply to inform or to create an atmosphere?

There are two elements to your image – your cover image and your profile photo.

Cover Image

Graham's cover picture

Straight away, you can tell crime writer Graham Hurley doesn’t write SF, chick lit or historical fiction. Unlike SF novelist Barry Woodham –

barry'scover picture



Many writers choose to use their book covers as their cover photo – some successfully but others less so. The ones that work for me are those that evoke a response – a smile for a comic novel or a sense of unease or foreboding for a suspense thriller.

What does your cover image say about you? 

Profile photo

A good head and shoulders photo is essential for Press Releases and all your online media. But the latest most technically produced might not work. I use a different photo for my Facebook Author page from the one on my family and friends page.  The background colouring and the style is in tune with the corresponding cover picture.

For my Facebook author page I use the same photos as I use on my website which you can see above – dark and moody to indicate I write edgy crime fiction but for my family and friends page I use a far less formal profile picture which repeats the colours in the cover image – both photos were taken in the same place.

Facebk profile




This profile picture would be far more appropriate for my author image if I wrote cosy crime or chick lit.

I recently had a new set of photos taken and replaced the one on my website and Facebook author page. After a day or two, despite the fact that the photo is now at least ten years old, I went back to original one. It works better in combination with my cover photo. Yes I could play around with Photoshop and alter the background colour to black, but is it worth the bother? I haven’t changed that much.


As another illustration, here is Barry Woodham ‘s Profile picture. Appropriate for a SF writer? I think so. A far better choice than a posed studio shot dressed in his best suit with hair brushed to perfection.



Avoid using animal pictures and cartoon avatars on Facebook. As a writer, you need to portray a professional image.

There is another factor to consider. Unless you are a well-established author and your picture is instantly recognised, there is a great deal to be said for the drip feed effect of always using the same image to reinforce your image. You want your readers to remember you, so…

Be consistent

business card 2013 - side 1The sharp eyed amongst you will realise that I use the same cover and profile pictures on my website and my author Facebook page. I use the same cover picture for my business card.




It surprises me that so many writers don’t use the opportunity to reinforce their image. You want your readers to keep coming back to you. Use the same photo for your twitter account, on Goodreads and any other online media you use. Give your audience something to hold onto.

My advice – don’t keep changing your image. Find a good one – one that speaks to your reader about who you are and what you stand for and stick to it. Update your pages’ content NOT your image.

Take a look at what other writers are doing – see what works and what doesn’t. Let me know what you think.

4 thoughts on “Look to your Image!

  1. JUDITH, I agree that the images you use should reflect what you want readers to tune into. I use my most recent book cover on my business cards, book,arks and Facebook page banner. The covers let readers know immediately they are reading an English mystery!

  2. Hi Marni, just been looking at your Facebook, Goodreads and blog. Had you thought of using the lovely profile photo on Goodreads on your Facebook author page to be more consistent? Love your blog by the way – I’ve added several books to my must-read list.

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