Understand that your author bio is on the same level of importance as your book cover, title, and description. This is especially true if you’re an up-and-coming author trying to establish yourself and build your platform. In short, if you’re not a household-name author (Rowling, King, or Grisham) then your author bio matters!
Your author bio is where you will connect with potential readers, establish trust, and give reasons for someone to want to read what you write. It’s your opportunity to establish yourself as an authority on your book topic and build your author reputation. And, if you get it right, you’ll sell more books! This one reason is why your author bio is so vitally important!
Now that you understand the “why” let’s dig into the “how.”
Default to Third Person
With few exceptions, it’s always best to write your author bio in third person. I know it may feel odd to write “he” or “she” instead of “I,” but it will give the feeling it was written by an objective reporter rather than a self-serving author. You will also come across as less boastful when you list your accomplishments and awards.
Keep it Short
When it comes to an author bio, less is more. And, while there is no perfect length, you’ll want to use your best copywriting skills to ensure every word and sentence has a purpose. Focus on what’s important to the reader and keep it concise. Remember, it’s a blurb, not your autobiography.
My recommendation is to end up with an author bio of about 150-200 words. Of course, there are situations where even that could be too long, so you’ll have to judge the length according to where the bio will show up. Remember, the place to put your “long-form” author bio is on your author website, not your book cover.
Just the Important Facts
Consider what’s important and relevant to the book where the bio will appear. Whatever helps establish you as an expert on your book’s topic should be included. You may have a PhD in Russian Basket Weaving, but does including that fact help sell your young adult romance novel? Of course, if your book is on personal finance, your credentials as a CPA of 24 years would show you as an authority on that topic.
This is not to say that you shouldn’t include interesting and unique tidbits about yourself. In fact, I believe you should include these sorts of things as long as they are relevant and endearing to the reader.
Keep in mind, not all books or genres are the same, and some are more difficult than others to establish authority. If you’re struggling with what to write about yourself, ask this question, “Why should a reader listen to me or read this book?”
Include Previous Books & Accolades
Assuming this is not your first book, you may wish to include other books you have written in your author bio. This is especially true if they’re best sellers or won awards. Also, mentioning previous books you’ve written in the same genre or subject area gives a potential reader more reason to purchase this new release.
Have you personally won any awards related to your writing? Include those as well as your memberships in writing clubs, business groups, etc. Anything that builds your authority or credibility is worth considering.
Include Your Online Info
You’ll definitely want to include your author website, blog link, and/or social media information. Anything that readers can use to connect with you online is worthy of inclusion. This data is usually best placed at the end of the bio and should be done so tactfully so as not to brag. You may write something like “Find out more about Susan at www.susansmithwrites.com.”
Ask a Friend for Help
Even the best writers will struggle from time to time with writing a great bio. When this happens, ask your friends for help. They can usually offer objective reviews and feedback on your bio and keep you from being too boastful or omitting important data.
Constantly Update Your Author Bio
When you grow as an author, your bio should also grow. It’s not something you write one time and then use it over and over. In fact, you should create different versions based on what book you are writing. The bio you use on your mystery thriller series will be vastly different than the one you use on books you’ve written about diet and weight loss.
Examples of Well-written Author Bios
I would be remiss if I left you without examples of a few well-written author bios. So sink your teeth into these and see how they used the tips provided above:
From Tim Ferriss’ book Tools of Titans:
Tim Ferriss has been called “a cross between Jack Welch and a Buddhist monk” by The New York Times. He is one of Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Business People” and an early-stage tech investor/advisor in Uber, Facebook, Twitter, Shopify, Duolingo, Alibaba, and 50+ other companies. He is also the author of four #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers: The 4-Hour Workweek, The 4-Hour Body, The 4-Hour Chef, and Tools of Titans. The Observer and other media have named him “the Oprah of audio” due to the influence of his podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, which has exceeded 200 million downloads and been selected for “Best of iTunes” three years running.
From Joanna Penn’s book How to Make a Living with Your Writing:
Joanna Penn is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thrillers and non-fiction (as J.F.Penn). She is also a professional speaker and entrepreneur, voted as one of The Guardian UK Top 100 creative professionals 2013. Her site, TheCreativePenn.com is regularly voted one of the Top 10 sites for writers. Connect with Joanna on Twitter @thecreativepenn.
From Nora Robert’s book Year One: Chronicles of The One:
Nora Roberts is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than 200 novels, including The Obsession, The Liar, The Collector, Whiskey Beach, and many more. She is also the author of the bestselling In Death series written under the pen name J.D. Robb. There are more than 500 million copies of her books in print. She lives in Keedysville, MD.
Never underestimate the importance of your author bio. Getting it right is imperative because this small bit of text is usually the only source of information a potential reader has about you. Consider it an essential piece of marketing material that will help you sell more books.