Your photo in designing a book cover?

Will your face sell books?

Should you include your photo in creating the best selling book cover design?

One of authors, a successful marriage therapist, asked this question about her book.

She’s known among the thousands of couples she’s helped over the last 25 years to create happy and fulfilling relationships. But outside her office, few people know her name, much less her face.

We helped her to write, design and publish her book. Along the way, she asked this question:

“Should I put a photo of myself on the cover?”

We had already written her first draft, brainstormed and tested her book title ideas, and collected her design preferences.

Now, this was her latest question.

When I chatted with our design manager, we chose not to give a direct answer. Instead, we wanted to share our thinking about the question.

If you’re asking this question too, maybe this can help. The answer has a lot to do with branding, recognition and sales.

Here’s our line of thinking:

The #1 purpose of a book cover is to sell the books. 

Bestselling books in Amazon bookstore.

Studies have shown that the most powerful part of a book is its title.

The title is what people remember. The title is how hosts will introduce you to their programs, and the title is what you will share with audiences.

So the #1 sales component of your book cover is the title.

Create bestselling books with a compelling book title.
Designing a book cover Design your own book cover.

Here’s a test, which of these do you remember, the title or the design?

Good to Great, The Power of Now and Dare to Lead.

The second most-important thing that sells a book on the cover is the design.

Design your own book to make it powerful.

A powerful cover design conveys the book content, while attracting readers. Your book design must make your book stand out from hundreds of thousands of other book covers on Amazon, websites and store book shelves. It must also stand out when you hold it up on a stage or in front of audiences.

The question is not so much, “Should I put my photo on the book cover?” But, “Will my photo on the cover sell the book?

Let's say you're the publisher of books by these authors. Would you put photos of these people on the book covers?

Michelle Obama, Elon Musk, Kim Kardashian, Taylor Swift and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

Authors with photos on their book cover designs.

Of course. As soon as people see these author photos, they’re attracted and want to buy the book.

Now think of these people. Would you put their photos on the book covers?

J.K. Rowling, Pete Conrad, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Marie Curie and Bong Joon-Ho.

Probably not.

Most people have never heard their names, much less know their faces. Yet, these people have changed the world.

Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling.

J.K. Rowling is the billionaire author of the Harry Potter books.


Pete Conrad is an astronaut for the U.S.


Pete Conrad commanded Apollo 12 space mission in 1969.
Famous for popularizing science with books such as Pluto Files in 2009.

Neil deGrasse Tyson is a leading astrophysicist.

Marie Curie won a Nobel Prize for pioneering radioactivity.

Marie Curie, a scientist who discovered radium and polonium.

And Bong Joon-Ho directed the Oscar-winning movie Parasite.

Everyone on this list is famous, but would you buy their books based on their photos?

Probably not.

If you’re not well-known or your face is not part of your brand, your photo may not help book sales.

In comparison, most of our bestselling authors do not put their photos on their covers. They want to be known for their brands and not their faces.

This includes: Michael Gerber of the E-Myth booksLeigh Brown, international speaker on Outrageous Authenticity and Than Merrill, star of HGTV’s Flip this House.

Most of our authors do not have their photos on their book covers, they focus on what we call, "Author success stories."

Should you put your photo on your book cover?

Ask yourself these questions:

1.       Do people recognize my face?

2.       Am I trying to grow my face as a brand?

3.       Do I want to be known more for my face or my name?

4.       Do I want to be known more for my face or my brand?

5.       Do I want to be known more for my face or my book title?

6.       Will my face sell more books?

If more than half the answers to these questions is “no,” you might not want to sink your book sales by putting your face on the cover.

But there are exceptions.

Here are 3 top reasons to put your photo on a cover even if you’re not famous yet.

If you would like support writing, designing and publishing your book, we’d love to chat.

Click here.

by Helen Chang, ABM Editorial Director

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