The 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?