You, Only Smaller

April 7th, 2009 • Kate

surprise-take-2The charming Rexroth shared an interesting post this past weekend by Seth Godin about avatar pictures, and how to choose the best one. I’m not sure I’m one to really give advice on the subject, since my Facebook and Twitter avatars are shoes, but I do follow his guidelines on some of my more personal avatars. (The one to the left, for instance, follows rule #7.) Some of his suggestions:

1. Have a professional or a dedicated amateur take your picture.
2. Use a white background, or at least a neutral one. No trees! No snowstorms!
3. The idea of having your significant other in the picture is a good one, at least in terms of maintaining peace in the presence of a jealous or nervous spouse. But the thing is, I’m not friending your girlfriend, I’m friending you. I’d vote for the picture to be solo.
4. If you are wearing a hat, you better have both a good reason and a good hat.
5. I totally understand that you are shy, modest and self-effacing. But sabotaging your photo is not a good way to communicate that. We just assume you’re a dork.
6. Conceptual photos (your foot, a monkey wearing glasses) may give us insight into the real you, but perhaps you could save that insight for the second impression.

Do take a look at the full list.

I’ve also got avatars on the brain because of a tweet I read earlier this morning, courtesy of Ron Hogan of GalleyCat, who retweeted, “It’s counterproductive when authors have the cover of their book as their Facebook profile pic.” And yet, not only do I know many authors who do just that, but I’ve recommended that they do.

Think of it. If you’re on Facebook or Twitter, looking at a long list of tweets or updates, which is going to stand out more? Yet another headshot rendered in 50×50 pixels, or that same space taken up by a graphic featuring a book cover you recognize? Discuss!

Do you use your book jacket as your profile pic? If you’re not yet published, would you?

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9 Responses to “You, Only Smaller”

  1. Trish Says:

    I don't have a cover–yet–but I would use it as an avatar. I'd much rather have potential readers see the cover they should look for at the bookstore than a picture of me.

  2. Julia Says:

    No cover yet – but, I'd use the book – same reason as Trish. I'd rather they remember the cover of the book, than my pic! (of course, since I appear as a small tuxedo cat on most websites – they might remember that) :0)

  3. Carrie Harris Says:

    I might use the cover during my launch ramp-up, but I'm hoping that people will want to read more than one book by me! (Making lots of assumptions here, I know, but I'm going on the philosophy that positivity is a good thing.) I think a good headshot is probably my choice, because I'm hoping that my "author brand" will come through more than any single book.

    It all sounds very pretentious until you realize that my brand is ridiculous comedy about things like superheroes and zombies.

  4. nightsmusic Says:

    My picture?? UGH! I'd rather put up a picture of a potato. However, in lieu of that, *when* I am published, I shall use the cover of my latest book 😀 Because no one wants to look at my ugly mug.

  5. Jamie Says:

    hmmm I took mine with my iphone by myself in the bathroom haha I wonder if I should come up with something better?

  6. Annie Says:

    Hi Daphne

    I am sorry to be so blond, but I am feeling rather confused. I have been following your site for a number of months, and very much enjoyed learning from you. Taking your advice I have been diligently polishing my manuscript until I can see my reflection in it and now that I am finally ready to send you my query I have hit a bit of a bump… Your name.

    Doing my research, you're Kate Schafer Testerman, yet I read 'Daphne' on a daily basis. So who do I address my query to, I assume (even typing that word seems to be a mistake) that Kate and Daphne are one and the same… but you know I have been known to be wrong.

  7. Kate Says:

    No worries, Annie. Briefly, yes, we're one and the same, and all queries should be addressed to Kate. Full details tomorrow, with the exciting story of how Daphne came to be!

  8. Annie Says:

    Thank you. I look froward to reading that story.

  9. Jessica (at It' Says:

    I think I'll keep my avatar as it stands now, a goofy, fun face shot (http://www.twitter.com/kikarose). I'm a very visual person and I'd rather get to know a person, not a product. And as someone else said, we're all going to write more than one book! (I hope…)

    That said, I think that the perfect use for backgrounds and the like is book jacket art!