A bit of self-disclosure. I am an outdoor adventure kind of guy.
I have spent most of my life hiking, climbing, playing sand volleyball, cycling, and skiing. And the truth is, the list goes on and on. Besides my outdoor lifestyle I am also a writer, a reader and a musician. And even though I have been in the military, worked as a behavior therapist, and project managed multi-million dollar projects for a Fortune 100 company, my other pursuits have almost always taken precedence over what I do for a living.
I tell you this just to let you know that I spend far more time in a pair of board shorts and a t-shirt than I do in proper dress clothes.
But what does this have to do with my author picture you ask? Good question.
The truth is, it’s all about perception. And just to show that I don’t even heed my own advice most times, the picture that I use now is not very suitable. But I love it because the last time I was across the pond, I was rowing a boat on Loch Oich in Scotland.
The next picture below was taken on a night when (while drinking copious amounts of tequila) we decided to play dress up and make me look like the studious, intellectual that most people think of when you say that you’re a writer. The last picture is of me in my most normal attire.
Now, we have all heard the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” But the truth is, humans are always judged in some way by how they appear. It doesn’t matter so much if they are attractive or not, but more so if they appear authentic to what they are trying to portray. A sea captain dressed like a fashion model might make people think twice about getting on his boat. So hopefully when you do readings or book signings you present yourself as an author in an authentic way.
I meet people when I am out and about all of the time, and for me there is a direct correlation between how much a person takes me seriously when I say I am a writer and what I am wearing that day. If I am sitting at a bar waiting for a table in slacks and a dress shirt they tend to take my word for it. But when, as often is the case, I am sitting there in shorts and a t-shirt they are more critical and often surprised when I prove it by showing them my author platform.
So back to your portrait and why it’s more important in this day and age than ever before. The way that fellow authors, and perspective readers, perceive you can of course affect whether or not they think that you are indeed a legitimate writer. Often times if they learn of you online, then your portrait is going to be an important way to influence their opinion of you at first glance. We all know that a book cover can sell a book, but a good portrait can sell you as an author.
So, what do you think? Have you had similar experiences when you’re out in public?