Don’t Confuse Your Avatar for the Movie – Be Yourself

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Time to Ditch Your Avatar

Remember Sam Worthington in the movie Avatar? He portrayed the protagonist, Jake Sully.

Here’s a picture of the Sam Worthington as an injured Marine who finished his tour of service and will assume his brother’s avatar:

Avatar - San Worthington

And here’s a picture of his Worthington’s Jake Sully avatar:

Avatar - Jake Sully

Playing a former Marine (is there such a thing?), Jake Sully filled the bill perfectly. His tall, blue avatar with titanium bones were perfect for Pandora, the planet he traveled to and where he spent time learning the culture.

Why do I bring up this movie, aside from the fact that the 3-D version is one of my favorites? Well, sometimes I wonder if the movie Avatar confused authors about what their avatars should look like.

Jake Sully needed an avatar that could breathe, run, and learn about a culture on a foreign planet. That explains the height, the blue face, the tail, and the amazing agility he needed to be accepted by the tribe.

Your avatar doesn’t need to meet any of those criteria.

On the contrary, your avatar should look just like you. Why? Because when people discover you online, your avatar should look just like your picture on the back cover of your books.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Your avatar should look just like you via @CaballoFrances” quote=”Your avatar should look just like you “]

Yep, the person you see in the mirror reflecting back at you – maybe with some makeup if that’s your thing – should be your avatar.

When people search for you online, or meet you on social media, you need to look like yourself. Your authentic self.

Seems simple, eh?

Okay, it’s time for a confession. When I first joined Twitter I used a logo. Aargh! And when I started a Facebook page, I used the cover of my first book. Can you even imagine how embarrassed I am to admit this to you?

I share this information so that you’ll know that I’ve made mistakes. But I learned. And I replaced those avatars with a picture of me.

An avatar is your picture to the world. Shine in it. Show yourself. Be yourself.

Is It Time to Ditch and Replace Your Avatar?

Now let me show you a series of avatars I discovered in a day of searching on Twitter. Note: The rules for avatars are the same whether you use Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or any other social media network.

Here are some of the avatars I found:

Avatar - thumbprint

To the above avatar, I say, “No comment.”

Avatar - eye

Is this a rendering of an eye, or just a fancy flourish? Hard to tell. What I did note is that the author has a sense of color and design but I still want to know what he or she looks like.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Is It Time to Ditch and Replace Your Avatar? via @CaballoFrances” quote=”Is It Time to Ditch and Replace Your Avatar? “]


I think it’s fine that this person supports Planned Parenthood. However, your avatar should be nonpolitical and the picture should be of you, not of your dog. And the picture needs to be clear, not blurry. (If you want this type of avatar on a Facebook profile, which is unrelated to your author business, go for it.)

Avatar - flower

A flower can’t write a book so I say nix this image and let’s see what you look like.

Avatar - cow

This author avatar surprised me and was the push I needed to write this post. Did the author draw it or find the image online? I don’t know but I suggest replacing it ASAP.

Avatar - Blue Character

Maybe this avatar is a picture of a character in the book. Or maybe this person was influenced by the movie. Regardless, the author should remove this image and let us see what she or he looks like. And the image shouldn’t be blurry.

Avatar too small

This avatar is better. We can at least see the author. However, I would still prefer a full-frame picture of this attractive writer.

Avatar - cookbook author

This is the best of this post’s collection of avatars. We can see the cookbook writer, she’s smiling, and she conveys a sense of joy about food. Still, I think this image would instead be perfect for a banner or header image. I would prefer to just see the author with her beautiful smile and apron.

[clickToTweet tweet=”9 Parameters for a Perfect Avatar via @CaballoFrances” quote=”9 Parameters for a Perfect Avatar “]

9 Parameters for a Perfect Avatar

Want to have a perfect avatar for your social media? Follow these steps:

  1. Hire a photographer to take a headshot (also called a mug shot or profile picture). Alternatively, ask a friend to take your picture or take a selfie.
  2. Smile.
  3. Don’t wear a hat.
  4. Don’t appear in a corner of a crowded background.
  5. Have good lighting. Go outside to take the picture or take it near a window.
  6. Don’t include friends in your avatar.
  7. Don’t use your book or a logo as an avatar.
  8. Don’t use a character in your book as an avatar.
  9. Radiate your love of writing.

What other attributes do you think contribute to a perfect avatar?


Frances CaballoThe author of this blog: Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference. In addition, she’s a contributing writer at, and blogger and Social Media Expert for BookWorks. She’s written several social media books including The Author’s Guide to Goodreads and Social Media in 30 Minutes a Day. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, finding new readers, and selling more books. Her clients include authors of every genre and writers’ conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Sign up for my free email course.

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