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Is it ok to include your 1-2 selfie in a book that you write - which is about a technical subject? (in front of the subject matter you are explaining so the photo also shows the thing in question)

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  • As you explain in a comment below my answer, you have withheld relevant information and detail from your question. Please edit it. In the meanwhile, I vote to close it.
    – Ben
    Commented Apr 27 at 8:07

3 Answers 3

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A photo of yourself in a non-fiction book (such as a textbook) that the readers buy to learn about your subject, and not about you, might seem a bit pretentious and bragging. You are unnecessarily putting yourself in the spotlight of the reader's attention, and to me, at least, that is a bit unlikeable.

It seems fitting in a book that is about your personal experiences with the subject, such as the autobiography of a scientist, or when the presentation is more narrative, such as in a travel journal (versus a guidebook). It is also appropriate when the books sells through your fame, and the readers buy the book because of your popularity (and, implicitly, to learn more about you). An example for the latter would be fitness YouTubers, where the admiration for the person of the presenter is the unique selling point.

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  • Thanks for the opinion. Well, i should have added may be that it is a book with few hundred photos and we are talking just 1-2 of them here, with comment below it as a half joke...
    – upstream
    Commented Apr 27 at 7:04
  • @upstream Then you need to explain what kind of book it is that you are publishing and what the role of the photos in question is in it. But I very much believe my opinion will hold. If it is a catalogue of ancient relics in Egypt I don't want to see you standing in front of some artefact like a colonial conqueror. If it is a coffeetable book about hotrods, I don't want to see you showing off "my car". The question remains whether your readers will perceive your book as about something or about you. Their reaction to photos of yourself in the body of the book will depend on that.
    – Ben
    Commented Apr 27 at 8:03
  • @upstream The place for photos of yourself in relation to your subject matter is on the back cover or inside the bookjacket or in an afterword.
    – Ben
    Commented Apr 27 at 8:05
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I don't believe there is a standard.

If the agent or publisher finds it cheesy, amateurish, or embarrassingly unprofessional, then they may reject it on those grounds, without explanation. (Most rejections are unexplained, they just say "not suitable for our purposes at this time.")

Why is a selfie necessary? Can't you just take a photograph? Can't you crop yourself out of the picture?

But, that said, I have seen many books on nature, and certainly we see many things on TV like nature documentaries with the speaker in the picture, or with journalists in the picture describing war, natural disasters, terrorist bombings, etc.

And if the picture actually does illustrate what you are discussing and aids in understanding the issue at hand, then it improves the book.

This is your judgment call, based on how unprofessional you think the photo looks, and whether it is a necessary clarification for the topic at hand.

I would avoid unprofessional picture captions like "That's me! At the Grand Coulee Dam!"

Just use a professional caption, and don't identify yourself, or say "The author at the Grand Coulee Dam."

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One thing that Ben's answer doesn't mention is the technical quality of the pictures. A selfie is relatively unlikely to be sharp, a good angle, good lighting, good composition of the picture, and so on. This is of course a consideration regardless of whether the picture is a selfie, but statistically, photographs where you were looking at what you were doing and holding the camera in a firm grip in place (or even better on a tripod) tend to turn out better.

I agree that it'd take the focus away from the subject and to the person, which is usually not a good thing. And one more point: If you're standing in front of the subject matter as you describe, then it means that you're even physically blocking the view.

I'm not saying it's a strict no-no, but I'm leaning strongly towards "this is probably not a good idea".

If the book is written in a very casual way and the picture is any good, then it might not be so much out of place to include it, but still not as a means to show anything about the technical subject but to support the illusion of friendship with your reader.

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  • Possible the only occasion when readers are likely to forgive an author for a hand-held snapshot like that is in an account of an activity such as a mountaineering first ascent, where professional-standard photography is not an option (and obviously so, for the target audience) and where omitting the photograph would result in a lesser work. Even then, I'd expect the base-camp photos to be properly composed and technically precise. Commented Apr 28 at 12:01
  • No I am not blocking any view and i occupy less than disturbing portion of the photo. That was not my concern. I just wanted to hear opinions. In the caption under the photo I think about writing something a little funny, but still related to the subject, to acknowledge that I am including my selfie and I am aware it look may strange to others. Anyway each answer or comment brings interesting points, which was the purpose of my original question.
    – upstream
    Commented Apr 29 at 18:57

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