An Author Bio is not only the opportunity to introduce yourself to readers, but it’s also something that might help convince them to buy your books. It’s not difficult to come up with something fresh, unique and interesting when you treat it as a writing challenge and not a boring necessity.
Don’t try to write to everyone. If you're the author of children’s books don’t write like a lawyer; instead try to understand what parents and children are looking for in your writing. Don’t be a comic when you’re a PhD writing about the newest discoveries in science. Think about your own attitude when you look for an interesting book. What do you like to see on the back cover?
Third Person vs First Person
Most professionals advise writing your bio in the third person to add a more professional touch and objectivity. Although it’s recommended for Pay What You Want business model to speak directly to the reader, you don’t have to write in the first person. Just try to show who you are - someone sarcastic or serious, a professional or a beginner. Show your attitude and writing style to help readers connect with you.
Straight to the Point
Although it’s called an Author’s Biography don’t treat it as such. Don’t start with the beginnings - details about where were you born and who raised you. Cut to the chase - treat your bio as a teaser and not a documentary.
If you write as a specialist in a particular field or topic you can mention your membership in relevant organizations or articles published. Try to avoid writing about your employment or educational history unless it’s relevant to your books and can give you extra credit among your target audience. You can also mention awards and books published so far as well as social media platforms or blogs where your career, hobby or passion can be followed. But remember that less is more in this case, cause what readers really care about is whether you can tell an interesting story!
Make a List
Try to list 10 or 20 of the most important things relevant to your writing. They could be some of your character traits, events in your life, inspirational people, your achievements or your experience. When you have everything, edit. Try to pick 3-5 that best reveal who you are as an author to someone who has never heard about your books. Try not to think too much, just go with what fits you most and stay honest.
What to Include and What Not
Try to include:
the specific genre that you’re writing in (if you have one)
experience relevant to your writing (travels when writing about fusion cooking, health struggles if writing about coping with problems, education if writing on a specific topic in your field) - focus on credentials when you write non-fiction, try a more personal touch when you’re a fiction author
personal details (interests, country of residence, family - anything that’s really important to who you are as an author)
awards (only the most important and recognized)
website/blog address or other channel which a reader can use to follow or contact you
more than 2-3 book titles
minor literary achievements (school contest wins, etc.)
education, job (if it’s not relevant)
bragging - it’s ok to showcase your achievements but humble, honest writing can do you much more good than marketing BS
personal statements (put them inside the book)
Publishers, social media profiles, blogs - all require different words limits. You can start with something long like 300 words but try to focus on short forms between 70 & 125 or even 50 & 25 words. In the end you’ll probably need at least 3 versions of your bio to post on-line.
Get Some Outside Perspective
First read it aloud to yourself. Then ask someone random; don’t start with family members, but maybe a colleague from work or a friendly shop assistant. Or maybe some crazy fans of the genre that you’re writing in. A fresh pair of eyes is always helpful. You can also write a few versions and try them in different media channels.
Try to create a similar effect on different platforms to construct a consistent online brand. You don’t have to provide the same information on every profile, but try to be faithful to a certain vibe or message that best demonstrates your personality and style.
Don’t Forget You’re a Writer
If you can write a funny short story or a dark bloody horror, don’t treat your bio as numb, robot-like business talk; see it as your book. Show your voice; after all what you need to do is prepare a very short story of someone who should be your favourite character - yourself.
And don’t forget about good photography to accompany your bio. In the era of high quality cameras in every smartphone it’s no longer acceptable to have poor quality pictures on your profile, even if it’s a blog or social media. It doesn’t take much effort (what you need is a white wall or interesting background, camera and a simple editing programme), but it’s very important to introduce who you are also through a professional photo. Readers won’t judge your writing by your looks but they just want to know that there’s someone real and honest behind it. If you publish anonymously or with a pen name you can create a special logotype or something that would immediately connect people to your books.
Pictures used in the text by okalinichenko