How to Not Pick an Author Photo for Your Book Jacket

Posted on
Feb 1, 2017
Posted in: Book

The thing that I did not anticipate when it came to publishing a book (which – wink, wink – is available for pre-order) is that my photo would appear somewhere on it. That seemed really strange, and also made me weirdly uncomfortable, which makes no sense. Like, that’s the point when I suddenly decided to become a private person?

I mean, the blog is full of photos of me. I once even wrote a treatise to my vagina (calm down, there are no actual pictures of it). I have amassed the most unflattering photos of myself in existence and I have confessed to all manner of debauchery and then I PUT IT ON THE INTERNET. Someone, were they so inclined, could flip through all of this while pooping or masturbating. (Let’s be honest with ourselves: it’s probably pooping.)

But as crazy as it sounds, that reality of that has never really sunk in. Like, I’m posting on the internet but I still sort of think it’s private. This nonsensical logic is the only way some of us writers can operate: we assume that absolutely no one is going to read our work, and if they do, they will still have no idea who we are when we inevitably embarrass ourselves in public. There is something safe about that.

Occasionally, people do recognize me from the blog, and I’m always stunned (It doesn’t help that my husband is an alarmingly well-dressed dude with a handlebar mustache – he’s sticks out. I mean, outside of Portland he sticks out). My next worry – after sharing a few awkward hellos and thanking them profusely for reading my blog and pre-ordering my book (cough-cough) – is that they caught me picking my nose. (Everyone is usually too polite to mention it if they have.)

But having my photo on a book? That’s just so … official.

My editor asked me if I had any photos that I wanted to use, and as I scrolled through my Flickr albums, I realized something:

There are no photos of me, anywhere.

Okay, that’s not true. There are photos of me out there – good ones, too! But most of them are with Rand.



And apparently your author photo shouldn’t have someone else in it. Especially not the two of you smooshing faces.


Nor should they feature you going all full-on zombie towards your husband. Ahem.


I know what you’re thinking: surely there must be some photos of me on my own, right? Well, there are!

Here’s one of me sleeping (I mean, Rio’s in the background, but that’s okay, right?):

And here’s one of me in Milan after I spent a whole bunch of time puking because I was carsick.


And I’m not even in this one, but isn’t is great?

Apparently you can’t use a photo of your friend and his baby as your author pic, even if your husband is in the photo.

Now, I’m sure some of you are thinking, “OMG, JUST TAKE A NEW PHOTO.” Well, I would but … I got Invisalign. So you can see all the attachments on my teeth and it is NOT. PRETTY. (Note: if you come to any of my readings, please pretend you don’t notice them at all and tell me I’m pretty.)

This is the default one I usually go to. I sort of hated it when Rand first took it, but I’ve warmed to it. The problem is that it’s a rather serious photo for a supposedly humorous book, and also the word “COCK” (from “cocktail”) was visible right next to my head but I made a halfhearted attempt to crop it out.

Also, it was a million degrees out and I was breaking out LIKE CRAZY.


But my editor really liked this one. She felt it was a little more lighthearted.


I figured the issue was settled (and was also sort of psyched, because the photo is a bit dark and grainy, so it’s hard to tell that it’s me and maybe the public nose-picking can continue). But they recently told me that the photo might be a bit too unclear and dark. And they asked if I had any other photos.

So I took to tormenting them on Twitter.

But then someone on Twitter noted the backdrop was a bit busy, so I went with this:

Which led to a delightful conversation with my publisher which reminded me again why I picked them in the first place:



(I love my cheeky publisher.)

Anyway, some tips if you are trying to pick an author photo for your very first book:

  • Make sure the photo is of you
  • And just of you
  • And that you are conscious
  • And not lying on the ground, having just vomited
  • Also, maybe don’t get Invisalign during the most important moment of your career to date?


So it looks like we’ll be going with the photo that says “COCK” backwards in giant letters near my head. At least that’s settled.

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