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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone, I have two questions to ask you all.  First, does posting an author photo help sales?  I have no photo of me, I wanted the privacy, but is this hurting my sales?  Do customers want to see the author?  Though on the other hand, I sort of like not knowing everything about who I'm reading, so I have less preconceptions.  Second, is it best to use one pen name for all books, or use one for each genre?  I like the idea of using just one name so customers can easily see my whole catalog, but if there's books in different genres is that problematic?  I feel like building a brand is so hard, so why start over with a new name?  Thanks for the responses.
 

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As an author:
I have photo and bio on my website. Also, on Amz author page.  No photos in my books, although, in years past and some today, authors put photos on back cover or inside with bio.

I believe the website and author page is good idea, but not on-in books. Not sure it helps, because the reader generally has already bought the book, so no 'sale gain' there. If a reader really wants to see author, then usually author has plenty of social media where a reader can find you.

As a reader:
Don't really care if I see an author photo - the writing is more important than an image.
 

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Having an author photo can only help you.  I've seen people do it to where you can't really tell the author's identity by the pic, so that kind of thing might work.  Like, a close up, or framed oddly or something.  But I think we're in the era where people kind of expect you to have some social presence out there.  I'm not saying that a photo will make people flock to your book, but not having one there might give the appearance of it being a not professional effort.

A lot of people here have multiple pen names for different genres.  I don't, but I'm not exactly the best at churning out books on time, so I don't feel the need to do it with low volume of work.  The main downside of having multiple genres on your same pen name is that people might jump from one of your books to another, which sounds like a good thing, but if they don't like the genre you wrote, then bad ratings are coming at you.  If someone likes your books but never liked sci fi and they read your sci fi book, then they're still probably not going to like sci fi  :D.  It kinda sucks, but it happens.
 

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I'm currently trying this Amazon advertising author brand thing. It keeps getting refused as I do not want to put a picture of myself up. I tried using a picture of my dog - infinitely cuter and more appealing to the eye - but once again it got rejected. Amazon, therefore, do seem quite keen on seeing your face these days.
 

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Don't know if a photo will help. I use a graphic design with my name on it. I lucked out in that my real name is easy for readers to remember. (Marti Talbott) so I use it for everything. I think if you write cozy and then write something with detailed sex and bloody murders, using a pen name for one of them would probably be prudent.
 
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I much prefer having a photo of lavender on my website and social media.  I'm using a rose for my pen name, but that's my brand...so I think it helps more than my photo.  Also, I want people to look at those covers I spend so much time making, not my photo. LOL 
 

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Question 1.

In my opinion and experience it doesn't matter if you use one or not. As a reader, I don't care about what the author looks like, I care about the words they craft.

When I started writing I was still in the corporate world. I also have a very unique name. I was not interested in one interfering with the other, so chose a pen name and never added a picture anywhere. I eventually set up my own publishing company and had a professional logo made. That is what my brand is built around. It's on my website, my author pages, the copyright page of my ebooks, and on the spine of my print books. And even though I now write full time, I have never added a pic of myself. My face isn't my brand.

Question 2

If you are writing in very diverse genres, use different pen names. Sometimes, even if your write within different sub-genres. Like you write hot, spicy romances, and clean, Christian romances. You do not want to be using the same name in this situation.

Having said all that, keep in mind that every situation in this industry is unique. What works for one of several of us won't necessarily work for all.

 

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My opinion is it can't hurt. You should have some sort of bio, truthful if not intimate (you don't need to share all with readers).

If genres are too far apart, I'd suggest pen names. Very few readers will be interested in everything you have. I have one name for speculative fiction stuff, like SF, horror, UF, and another for the "mushy" stuff, romance, women's fiction, and so on. Yet a third for the days when I was writing the smut (it's a dead name now, thankfully). I may do another if I ever get around to the "manly man" things, Westerns and action/adventure type stories. We'll see.

Pick pen names wisely, learn to brand that name, and don't go crazy trying to write all the things. Focus on what sells best for you, or what interests you the most, or what you think you can build the biggest base for. Later on you can go into other stuff.
 

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While an author photo isn't likely to directly affect sales, having a book page and author page that look "abnormal" may be jarring or attract attention for the wrong reason. If you want privacy, compromise and upload a logo, your book cover, or another image that looks professional but doesn't show your face.

On pen names, everyone has a different opinion. My personal one is that it's desirable to have the clearest, least scattered branding possible, so I do different pen names for different genres. Others feel like their themes, writing style, sense of humor, etc are the brand they're trying to build and since they carry those aspects across all their books, regardless of genre, they put it all under one name. So, different methods but the goal either way is growing customer loyalty by delivering something consistent and reliable.
 

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I use a pen name and want privacy as well, which is why my author photo (also my avatar) is black and white, from a distance, wearing sunglasses and with a slight beard that I don't normally have. Now that I think of it I really should have taken another one recently, since I just got rid of my eight-month-long lockdown hair and beard...
 

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Author photo: I think something is better than nothing when it comes to the author photo. Blank space... fill it. I've seen authors rotate their new release covers in place of the author photo.

Branding and pen names: I have the same question as you when it comes to releasing different genres under the same name. I'm not sure anyone can tell us the right answer for us. I'm going to release three different genres I want to write in because I think there's a factor other than me that ties them together, a loose umbrella genre of sorts. I also don't want to spread my attention too thin. If I'm working my day job, writing, and succumbing to social media I don't want to have triple duty for the latter. That's my thought process, for what it's worth.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Yes, I have filled in the blank space with a landscape photo.  I also agree about tripling the work if I have 3 pen names.  I have limited time and energy for this, so I don't want to multiply my work, I like to keep it simple.  In fact, I am only just on Amazon.com as I don't want anymore paperwork or e-work by selling other places; I just can't deal with it right now, especially for probably little return.  So, it seems like one name can work as long as the genres aren't crazily different.
 

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thomas88 said:
I like the idea of using just one name so customers can easily see my whole catalog, but if there's books in different genres is that problematic? I feel like building a brand is so hard, so why start over with a new name? Thanks for the responses.
I think this depends a great deal on what the genres are. My theory - and I hope I'm right about this because I'm about to test it - is that if the genres are close enough, like romance and chick lit or urban and epic fantasy, you can probably mix genres without too much trouble. But I suspect that the more dissimilar the genres are, the harder it will be to build your audience.
 

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Whether or not you have an author photo doesn't really matter, but *if* you decide to have one, make sure that it's a good photo with good lighting and focus, and not an out-of-focus snapshot with lighting that makes you look like a rabbit in the headlights, or worse, like a creepster.
 

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I've seen a couple of authors use anonymity to their advantage. Morgan Rice and Kel Kade. But they also kept their gender a secret. In Kel's case, when she signed with Tor they did video promos so there was a sort of reveal. With Morgan Rice, she's female. But I only know this through people who know her. At this point I'm not giving anything away. But for a long time it was a mystery second only to "Who is Chuck Tingle?"
I doubt it will hurt you. But traditionally you would have a photo. You could be cute about it and use a childhood photo.
As for pen names: You are building multiple audiences when you write in multiple genres. So I doubt it will matter. There won't be much crossover. It will be harder to gain a foothold in one genre when splitting your efforts. That much I can tell you.
 
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