There’s a lot of conventional wisdom about what your author photo should look like. You should smile. The clothes you wear should look nice, and probably include a shirt with a collar. Face the camera so you seem approachable and friendly. In short, make it look like every other author photo ever taken.
Yeah, no, that’s just not me.
My author photo is a little unorthodox because my writing career doesn’t follow the rules either. Whenever I’ve hewed to conventional wisdom, I’ve failed or have at least been miserable and dissatisfied. Every time I’ve done things the “right” way, which really comes down to doing things the way everyone else does them, I get lost in the crowd and stepped on.
I succeed when I trust my own instincts. When I get ahead, it’s because I insist on doing things my own way. No, it doesn’t always work out. People don’t always get what I’m doing. I’m okay with that. I’ve been honest to myself, to my vision, and to the work. Most importantly, I’ve been honest with my audience. I’ve been honest to you.
So here’s my author picture. I seem cranky, or however you choose to interpret that expression, because that’s just what my face looks like. It’s “resting Berin face”. I haven’t screwed on an insincere smile in order to win you over. Pretending to be cheerful doesn’t make my books any more useful or better written, and scowling doesn’t make them worthless garbage. I’ve got obvious scars on my face that I refuse to hide, because they’re part of me. I wear t-shirts, because I’ve worked hard to be self-employed full-time and get away from having to wear dress shirts and ties.
This is who I am. I’m happy with who I am. I’ve worked really hard, for a lot of decades, to become the person I want to be. That’s my face. You can think I’m a weirdo, but I know that I am oh so very pretty.
Berin Kinsman is a writer, small press publisher, and entrepreneur. He is the author of over 20 books for creative writers and tabletop roleplayers. A practitioner of “right minimalism”, Berin advocates living a simple, productive, and meaningful life. An American by birth, he currently resides in Finland with his wife, the artist and educator Katie Kinsman.