A book cover can often include the author's photo. On a dust-jacketed hard cover, we typically use the entire back for sales copy and put the photo and bio on the back flap. Paperbacks typically have the sales copy, an author photo and brief bio all on the back cover.
If you want to reserve the entire back cover for sales copy, you can include the author photo within the book. You'll want a black and white glossy print unless you're doing a full color cover. It's important to realize that your author picture is for a different purpose than any photo you have ever had taken. Its main objective is to sell you as the expert.
So what are some of the mistakes authors make when it comes to producing a photo?
Usually a snapshot is submitted instead of a thoughfully and professionally composed photo, which means all the the things wrong you'd expect - things like a cluttered background, out of focus image, and an unflattering and uninteresting picture.
This does not mean the photo should be a plastic, perfectly groomed but lifeless grinning studio shot. What it needs to do is to give the viewer a good sense of the persona of the author and, most of all, be close up enough that you can actually see the face. It should also be a well-composed and effective photograph of good reproduction quality - which means you should get a professional or really good photo bug to take it.
[This post was created, with permission, from excerpts take from The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing, 5th Edition, co-authored by Marilyn Ross and Sue Collier.]