Believe it or not, what you write within your author bio is very important. For some, reading your author bio will make or break their decision to buy your book. As an aspiring author myself, I’ve put a lot of thought into what should go into a bio, and how it should be written.
So, how do you write a great author bio? The first rule of writing a great bio is to keep it succinct. Written in third person, your bio should not consist of much other than a brief summary, your credibility, past accomplishments, and one gripping fact.
What All Author Bios Should Include:
- An introductory sentence
- Your first sentence should give your reader a brief idea of who you are as a person.
- Ex: Currently living with her husband in California, Sarah Brown can often be found tending to her ever-growing garden.
- 3rd-person perspective
- This is the universal industry standard.
- Make your reader trust your writing and perspective with mention of credentials.
- A personal fact
- Grip your audience in any way you can.
- An appropriate tone
- Your bio’s tone can establish personality and writing style.
What Connects You To Your Book?
Your credibility most-likely comes from the same thing that made you want to write your book in the first place. If your work is a self-help book about the benefits of yoga, you probably take part in yoga yourself. This is something you’d want to mention in your bio.
If you’re writing a book about baseball, you probably don’t want to mention your credentials in construction work. Give the reader some indication that they can trust your handling of the theme, subject, etc.
You want to include your credibility early in your bio to earn the trust of readers who are clearly interested, but need that extra push. Credibility is especially important for nonfiction authors, because people are turning to your book for factual, accurate information.
What Are Your Accomplishments?
If you’ve written a nonfiction book, the success you want to mention in your author bio will ideally pertain to the subject at hand. This can be a range of things.
Perhaps you’ve written a book about something involving the brain. A degree in neuroscience would be considered a relevant accomplishment. Sometimes, your credibility overlaps with your accomplishments.
The important thing here is balance. Between your credibility and accomplishments, you want to make sure you’re not coming across as gloating. Stay away from listing more than three accomplishments all together. Mention the most impressive, relevant ones.
Dr. Mary Fields is a professor of environmental science at California State University. Since earning her PhD from Harvard University in 1992, she’s dedicated much of her time to the wildlife preservation of Alaskan polar bears. Her most current work stems from a three-month excursion with her team at Polar Life Conservatory, studying bears in their natural habitat. Back home, Dr. Fields spends her days playing music with her two sisters, who, together, donate a portion of their proceeds to wildlife research.
Once you’ve established your credibility, you can attempt to grip readers by including a personal fun fact about yourself. This is something that should be both memorable and unique. This fact doesn’t have to pertain to what your book is about. Think of this as a look behind the curtain.
Who are you when you’re not writing? What would strike someone as interesting in any scenario, let alone on the inside flap of a hardcover? In the made-up example above, this is the fact that Dr. Fields plays music with her sisters.
Stay Away From Fluff
Readers aren’t looking for a beautiful, life changing read when they turn to your author bio. It’s best to stay to-the-point and focused. Give your readers undeniable facts about yourself. Stay away from using your bio as a place to list ambition, goals, or dreams. Write about things that have happened or are currently happening, and make sure each fact included is completely necessary.
Readers do not need to know about your writing journey. This applies to your life story in general. Readers are interested in the you of today. The you who wrote your book. Only include personal pieces of your past if they pertain to your plot and/or affected the way in which you wrote the book.
Fiction/Creative Nonfiction Writers
Make It About Writing
When readers turn to fiction, they’re looking for writers who craft quality writing in terms of language, plot, characters, etc. Because of this, it’s ideal that the accomplishments you list in your bio are related to the craft.
Perhaps you have a degree in creative writing, or have been published in a well-known literary magazine. Things like this hold lots of merit when translating your credibility to possible readers.
You could also quote someone or something else. In doing so, you want to make sure said person or thing is deemed credible. This could pertain to what your writing has become known for, or praise for previous work.
Mentioning previous work in general is also something you want to considering doing. Not only does it imply experience, but it invites the reader to check out your other works.
Your Fun Fact and Tone
Like Nonfiction readers, you want to include something interesting and unique about yourself. You have a bit more wiggle room when it comes to writing your bio, since it does not require quite as much professionalism as a nonfiction writer’s.
With this, you have more freedom when it comes to tone. Whereas a nonfiction writer wants to keep their bio professional, a fiction writer can include, humor, playfulness, etc. Doing so can give readers a better understanding of who you are or what your writing is like. Keep in mind that you still need to write in a professional 3rd-person point of view.
Living with her husband in Colorado Springs, Lucy Joe works as an award-winning, local baker by day and renowned writer by night. Her previous work, Around The Corner, remained a national bestseller for forty-two consecutive weeks. The New York Times has deemed her writing as “captivating in the purest sense of the word”. In her latest novel, Lucy crafts a story exploring family struggles and mother-daughter relationships. You can find out more about Lucy and her work on Twitter and Instagram @AuthorLucyJoe.
It’s important to note the placement of the author’s fun-fact in the made up bio above. I’ve placed it in the introductory byline rather than in the middle of the paragraph. This is a quick and easy way of including a personal fun fact rather than working it in as its own sentence.
Invite Your Readers
Since your bio is essentially an invitation to get to know you, you might as well use it as an opportunity to gain loyal readership. I’ve done this in the made-up Lucy Joe bio, in which “she” mentions her Instagram and Twitter.
Readers of today enjoy knowing more about who they’re supporting, and keeping up to date with what their favorite authors are up to/working on. For you, this means gaining loyal followers who care about your work.
As you can see, connecting with readers can be beneficial for all parties involved. If you aren’t currently present online, I highly recommend creating social media accounts dedicated to your author platform.
How long should my author bio be?
Keep your bio short. Try to keep it around 300 words, using only the most relevant, useful information about you and your work.
How do I grow my author platform?
Like any other platform, consistency, engagement, and authenticity will be what gets you far. Along with hashtags and quality of posts, your biggest tools include engaging with fellow writers and readers, being yourself, and posting often.
Do I need to include an author photo?
Although author photos are optional in some cases, it is industry standard to include one. An author photo just adds to the personal touch of your author bio. People usually like to put faces to people if they can.