About Author Headshots

Everything you need to know about what to wear, how to pose, and what backgrounds to use for the perfect author headshots.

What Are Author Headshots?

Author headshots are a type of professional portrait photo typically used for in the print and promotion of a novel or non-fiction literary work.

If you’re an author, a good professional headshot can both 1) help you find a publisher in the first place and 2) help you promote your published book and improve sales.

At a base level, no one wants to read a book by someone who looks unintelligent and uninteresting – they figure that the author will match the content of the book.

So, a great author headshot matches the overall theme of the content of your book, and should make the subject look intriguing for potential publishers and eventual customers.

The most common place for an author headshot is on the inside sleeve of a book. But, your headshots can also be used in promotional materials, advertisements, and speaking engagements.


author headshot example
author headshot example

Are Author Headshots Important?

Have you ever met someone that you instantly either liked, or disliked?

Perhaps you knew why you felt that way about them, or perhaps you didn’t, but most people are prone to generating “first impressions” of other people in just 1/8th of a single second. These first impressions can have dramatic impact on who they hire, buy from, and otherwise listen to.

These days, most first impressions start online.

And, if you’re trying to convince people that you have something important to say, the worst way you can look is boring.

Bad headshots are boring…


What Do I Wear for Author Headshots?

It depends on your personality, your work’s theme, and where the photos will be placed!

For conservative or academic publications, formal attire is recommended.

If you’re publishing a piece of fiction, you have a bit more free range to select the most appropriate clothing – so feel free to go casual.

Either way, in general, solid colored clothing tends to photograph better than complex patterns and faded/pastel clothing.

If you’re still not sure, then ask us! We’re always happy to provide guidance.


author headshots example female
author headshot example of male

How Do I Pose for Author Headshots?

No need to go crazy on your poses for author headshots. In our sessions, we tend to focus on minimalist poses. We’ve seen other photographers force clients into some truly bizarre poses. But, we avoid this practice like the plague.

We are, after all, showcasing your professionalism — not our photography.

At the beginning of your session, you should warm up with simple and straightforward poses. Simply stand there and smile.

Later, we will work toward some more complex head tilts and poses.

What Backdrops are Best for Author Headshots?

Depends on the theme of the work!

Cookbook author headshots should be taken in a kitchen.

Academic books should be shot in a library.

Business books should be shot in-studio or on-site at the business in question.

Outdoor sessions are pretty safe all around.

If you’re a prolific writer, you should probably have several photos of yourself that you can use across platforms. Ideally, you would have a couple outdoor photos to supplement your studio headshots.

If you have the same exact headshot on LinkedIn, the company website, and press releases, it can look a bit amateurish.

HeadShots Inc Offers 9 Colored Studio Backdrops + Pure White

outdoor law firm headshot example

How Should I Prepare for Author Headshots?

There are three keys to preparing for your headshot ahead of time.

First, if possible, try to get some sleep, exercise, and sunshine in the weeks before your session. Our editing team airbrushes your selected photos before delivering them to you, but your preparation will help ensure that the photos look as natural as possible.

Second, make sure to briefly wear your desired clothing a couple days before your session. You want to make sure that your outfits still fits properly and doesn’t need dry cleaning.

Third, take a look at some prior photos of yourself and see if there are any that you particularly like. When you arrive at the studio, show those photos to your photographer, and that will help us find an angle that you find flattering.


What If I’m Not Photogenic or Hate Getting My Photo Taken?

We’ve got you covered! Most portrait photographers are unfortunately guilty of creating a cringe-y environment for their clients. They force you into awkward poses and don’t truly understand what clients are looking for from their session. Either that, or they rush you through the session.

There are also many photographers who refuse to specialize in one form of photography, so they’re frankly not very skilled at any specific type of session.

At HeadShots Inc, we strive to create a fun & stress-free environment for every client. At our studio, we play upbeat music and constantly get feedback from the client so that we can work towards an amazing headshot that you’ll be proud to show online. We only offer headshots (not even full-body portraits) and so we’ve mastered one service that we do exceptionally well. 


young lawyer headshot example
author headshot example outdoors

How Much Do Author Headshots Cost?

In general, headshots cost between $65 and $750 depending on geography, package, and provider. The upper end is likely a complete rip-off unless you’re looking for an extremely specific style. The bottom end is going to produce some truly terrible photos.

When considering pricing, remember to look at a) licensing (who owns the photos) and b) retouching fees.

In terms of licensing, photographers typically only give you ownership for photos that you “buy” from them. This fee is separate from your “session fee,” which just covers the time spent inside their studio. If you want to use your photos on a billboard, or in print, or somewhere else, you may have to pay additional fees.

For retouching, many photographers charge between $50 and $100 per photo. Calculate those fees into your total session cost.

For reference, HeadShots Inc sessions cost between $150 and $400, you get 100% rights to all original photos, and  you get one airbrushed photo included (additional are just $25 each.)

Looking for Author Headshot Pricing?

Find the perfect headshot package for your goals and budget below.

Individual Sessions

See pricing for individals and small groups of up to three people. Packages range from $150 to $400 based on session length and location.

Team Sessions

See pricing for groups of any size. Discounts are available for publishers who’d like to send multiple authors to our studio.

Ready to Book Your Session?

Book studio sessions using our online scheduling calendar or request an outdoor/group session below.

Or start a website chat to ask a question.