I have two different legal names (it's a weird consequence of dual citizenship). When I'm in Taiwan, I use my Chinese name on official business. When I visit America, I use my American name.

I'm wrapping up a historical fiction novel set in ancient China (the book is in English). It would make sense to use my Chinese name. The US copyright office would probably consider it to be a pseudonym, but I don't mind that. If I did write future books, I would only ever have them set in China.

But here's the problem. I don't look Chinese. I'm bi-racial. When it comes to the author's photo, I'm afraid of people thinking I'm an imposter who stupidly made up a Chinese pseudonym without realizing that I have an American face.

My two options are to defend myself in my author's bio (which would be weird) or foregoing the author's photo entirely.

Are there any disadvantages of writing a book with no author photo? Would many readers notice the omission? If they did, would they care?

  • 3
    There are many books that don't have author's photo. There are fewer books that don't have a short author's bio. I'm sure you are going to mention your dual background in your short bio.
    – Alexander
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 20:05
  • 1
    Why not use a pseudo combining both names that will also help convey your bi-racial roots, or at least your Chinese American background, something in the line of “Daniel Wu” Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 11:39

1 Answer 1


Yes, omitting your photo is a disadvantage. Your readers must be able to see and relate to you to buy your book.

Most publishers expect authors to promote their work through social media extensively. For this, it is critical to establish a strong personal connection with your readers. In photos and videos, it is essential for you to make eye contact through the lens and smile naturally to convey your humanity and energy to the person who is interested in you and your work!

Beyond photos, your bio is your opportunity to craft the narrative of your origin story and how it brought you to create your current work. This is essential for all creative personalities. If you are a bit shy, remember that your story is not self-glorification; it is about why and how you came to write a book---about your subject---for your audience.

Beyond the photo and bio: Find opportunities to give separate interviews for each language! Look for relevant cultural organizations, blogs, YouTube channels, and podcasts. Link to the interviews from your various social media accounts. Maybe ask a friend to create a video montage of your best moments on camera. Consider hiring a professional on Upwork or Fiverr to shoot and produce a 1-3 minute author's bio video for YouTube.

I hope this helps!

  • 2
    Well this certainly is a good way to market a book, the premise of the first paragraph definitely doesn't hold for all genres. I only have a vague idea of what JK Rowling looks like, and then only from interviews years after her book came out. I have no idea what Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Neil Stephenson, or Rick Riordan look like, and I don't think any of these 5 authors have personal pictures in their books.
    – TMuffin
    Commented Jul 15, 2020 at 15:42
  • @TMuffin What visual element do these URLs have in common? jkrowling.com, neilgaiman.com, terrypratchettbooks.com, nealstephenson.com, rickriordan.com/about
    – rolfedh
    Commented Jul 15, 2020 at 18:55
  • It is important to focus on answering the OP's question. Author photos are recommended by most publishers and guides to publishing.
    – rolfedh
    Commented Jul 15, 2020 at 19:13
  • @TMuffin Thanks for your feedback. I've updated the answer accordingly.
    – rolfedh
    Commented Jul 15, 2020 at 22:04
  • Upvoted. I do think this is a very good answer.
    – TMuffin
    Commented Jul 15, 2020 at 23:31

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