Writing Your Author Bio
Do you realize how important writing your author bio is to the success of our book?
Every reader wants a connection with the author of their favorite book. Every reader wants to know what, why, and how of the author of the book he or she is holding in their hands.
But writing your author bio is HARD! It’s tough to brag and it’s even tougher to brag succinctly. How can you condense your achievements and wonderful highlights into a few words to be slapped on the back of a book?
To build your persona with your readers, you’ll want to write a concise and engaging author bio. Your author bio can have a few different “flavors” depending if it’s being used on your website, the book cover, a media release, or your Amazon Author Page.
Let’s take a look at what makes for a great author bio…
“KISS” – or Keep It Simple (and short) Stupid – it’s about the quality, not quantity
There are plenty of aspects of your life that have no business being on your author bio. We recommend you set the outer limit of what you write at about 450 words, and that’s LONG. Only about 250-300 words fit on your book cover. So start with the longest version, then pare it back for your book cover. Your book’s media release and website can carry the longer versions.
Write It From Your Best Friend’s Perspective (or, third-person at least)
It’s not natural for ANYONE (who is sane) to write about themselves in the third person. Sometimes it’s easier to write in first person and then rewrite. Writing in the third person will help you discover how to brag a little - it can be addictive when you read just how amazing you are. Be careful not to embellish too much…
Keep It Simple - Redux
So many of our personal details really only matter to us, and our mothers. Before you put ANYTHING in your bio, make sure it’s relevant to your story in some way. If where you were born has nothing to do with your story, leave it out. Advanced degrees are great for a non-fiction author, but do they really matter in your mystery novel? Sometimes atuhors feel the need to trot out the easy stuff - when you were born, when you were born, and to whom you were born. But rarely is this material that creates a connection to your reader. Most readers are very likely to NOT be from your hometown.
The most important elements to include in your author bio are those that create credibility for you as an author. Awards - for literary achievement - are nice. Your 7th grade swimming trophy? Not so much. Key in on what CONNECTS you to your story and thereby you reader. Kids book? Do you have any? Then list them. Mystery novel? Member of a writing group, written short stories, been a police detective, avid fan? Note it. I’m a former geologist… who now publishes books after spending 20 years in the book industry. Is Geology relevant? Nope. Not nearly as much as my time as Waldenbooks as a buyer, or Marketing Manager at Prentice Hall, or Associate Publisher. (It was however very fun… but that’s a different article).
Don’t forget any appropriate education, profession, or personal facts that might connect you to your reader.
Ask for help
Few of us actually see ourselves as we are - we all have 3 personas. Our private self; the person we KNOW we are inside; our projected self, the person we think we project to the outside world; and our attributed self, the person people REALLY see. The nice thing about getting others to read your author bio is you will find out that there are things others around you see that you never knew were important or interesting.
Write, re-write, then edit
Writing your author bio is just like writing your manuscript. It’s rare to hit it on the first try, and if you are like most authors you will have a very tough time letting go. Get at least three versions, then literally print them and sit them side by side. Ask a friend to read them and pick the one they feel is most interesting. Then finally build your final draft.
No matter what, be interesting. That doesn’t mean short, doesn’t mean long winded. Just try to connect. Be vulnerable in some ways. Brag in others. But in all cases try and be interesting. You did it in your manuscript, right? Use the same techniques on a smaller scale and do it here.
While no one can write your author bio for you, don’t forget to send it to your editor - they certainly CAN polish it up.