If the thought of writing an author bio makes you stuff your manuscript in a drawer rather than publish, don’t panic. You’re a writer, right? You can do this (and if you really, really can’t face it, FirstEditing.com has editors on staff who just LOVE writing author bios).
First off, what exactly is an author biography, and why do you need one (or two)?
An author bio is your writing resume. It’s a paragraph to a page long, and includes things that give you credibility on the subject you’re writing about. Your author bio will usually have a small picture of you posed in business/business casual clothes in a professional or outdoor setting. You want your bio to pique the interest of potential readers, turning them into fans. It should be written in third person—this will also make it easier for you to toot your own horn. It’s as if you’re raving about how great your friend is, rather than feeling like you’re boasting about yourself. (Or as they like to say in New England, it isn’t bragging if it’s true.)
You’ll need a long author bio to attach to the marketing material you’ll be sending to a book marketing firm or publishing house, and also to post on your website. By long, we’re only talking about one page, say, 250 words. A second, shorter author bio, more like one or two paragraphs, would be what you’d put on the flap of a book jacket or on the back cover of your book. If you publish online somewhere like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) or Goodreads, the short author bio is something you can add to your book’s purchase page. You might even gain some followers just based on your author bio information. A Red Sox fan might follow you just because you’re a Red Sox fan, for example.
Having an author bio is important for sales and marketing, as well as your reputation as an author, according to Tucker Max at Scribe Media.
…the “Author Bio” section impacts sales, reputation, book marketing and social media. “Author reputation” is consistently cited as one of the main factors that influence a book buying decision. If you’re seen as an authority on your book topic, readers will buy your book and read it. One of the best ways to be seen as an authority is to have a great Author Bio.¹
Keep in mind also that there are different styles of author bios, depending on where it will be published and what you’re publishing. You’ll want a professional-sounding author bio on LinkedIn or for business or academic writing. You could use a more personal, quirky author bio if your genre is more light-hearted, such as children’s books, Young Adult, or Fantasy writing. A great resource (with examples too!) of various types of author biographies can be found on Grammarly.com.²
You don’t need to write your whole life story in the author bio. Keep the information relevant to the topic of the writing, but also interesting enough that the reader doesn’t just skim through it or worse, skip reading about you entirely. This is your chance to make a good first impression. Imagine yourself at an outdoor gathering, like a neighborhood barbeque at a local park. You’re eating, you’re drinking, you’re mingling. While you’re dropping a glob of potato salad onto your plate, someone in the buffet line will invariably ask, “So, what do you do?” This is your chance to shine. You can tell someone about your latest writing project (a captive audience, if you keep hold of the serving spoon while you’re talking). Briefly let them know how you came up with the idea for your book, and what makes you knowledgeable about the subject matter. Then, move on to the tray of brownies.
So, how much information is too much? It depends on the subject matter and the target audience. For business writing, you’ll want to think more along the lines of your professional LinkedIn profile rather than your personal Twitter account. No politics, no snark, no reminiscing of the pranks you pulled in college. If you’ve been divorced three times, there’s no need for that to go in your author bio (unless you’ve written a book on divorce…).
To make your life easier, the editors at FirstEditing.com can draft your author bio for you.
They’ll ask questions like:
1. How long have you been writing?
2. What made you want to write in general, and this piece in particular?
3. How many manuscripts have you finished/published previously?
4. Are you a member of any writing groups? If yes, for how long, and does the group have a name? (If not, you could join one on LinkedIn, if only just so you can say yes.)
5. Have you taken any workshops or classes in writing or anything else relevant to this particular manuscript? If so, when were they, what was the name of the event, and what did you learn?
6. Have you won any writing contests or gotten any awards?
7. How is your personal history/experience (where you grew up, what your parents did for work, etc.) relevant to this particular manuscript?
8. Do you have future writing in the works already? If so, what, and when do you expect it to be finished?
Grammarly.com also offers four tips for writing your author bio.
Tip #1: Don’t Overthink It
…Even adding an adjective that shows your personality or an unusual accomplishment can make your bio different from the crowd.
Tip #2: Remember Your Worth
…Your story is only yours to tell, and it has value. Focus on staying authentic to your truth…
Tip #3: When In Doubt, Borrow
…If you find a structure you like and think sounds unique, borrow it! You should never copy a person’s bio…but you can mimic the structure if you’re feeling stuck.
Tip #4: Get Writing Help
…Grammarly is here to help you choose powerful adjectives, clean up hedging language, and make your LinkedIn stand out.
So go ahead and draft an author bio or order one from FirstEditing.com. Your readers (and hopefully your book sales) will surely benefit from it!