How to Write Your Author Bio
After writing an entire novel, you would think Author Bios would be easy. A quick paragraph about who we and what we’ve done seems like a simple task to tackle.
However, many author bios fail to capture the essence of what their audience is looking for. Today we are going to talk about these pesky little paragraphs. We’ll talk about what to include, what not to include, and and the best way to frame this information.
While we will provide you with a basic guideline, please be aware that crafting a bio is not a one-size-fits-all task. As with all writing, we must always consider our audience.
Define your Reader
The first question you need to ask is, who is going to read your bio?
The most common answer would be your readers. So you begin by defining your readers. If they are going to a book store, what section would your readers head to? Romance? Mystery?
Now that you have the main genre, define your readers further. If they are romance readers, do they like contemporary, historical, or westerns. Are you readers into cozy mysteries, or are they more into reading about tough female detectives? Are your books lighthearted, or do they deal with serious subject matters?
You may ask, what’s the big deal? The purpose in defining your reader is that it will help frame the information in your bio. Your reader wants to know who you are and what makes you an authority on your subject. By understanding this, it will help you decide what to include as well as how to include it.
All bios consist of three main components: your accomplishments, your work, and personal information.
In a bio. it is okay to brag, but as I said, we are doing this while keeping in mind our audience. Are you a best selling author? Talk about that if it is the same genre. Have you won awards that pertain to your work? It is okay to include. Romance reader’s aren’t going to care that you won five awards for underwater basket weaving, but they will care that you have other novels that made it on the top-selling romance list, or that you received a RONE (Romance Novel of Excellence) award. If you write historical fiction and you are part of a historical society, this would be pertinent to your readers.
The same rules for accomplishments apply to what work should be included. Audience also plays a hand in how you include the work. If you have written ten novels – don’t list them all, list your most popular series and the number of books you’ve written. For example,
Jane Doe is the award wining author of ten romance novels, including the best-selling series, Romance of the Ages.
Note how the accomplishments of Jane doe were spaced out in the previous sentence. We didn’t say Jane Doe, the award winning. best-selling, baton-twirling, tap-dancing author of ten books. You want the reader to READ the bio, not skip over your accomplishments.
Degrees, your job, and other accomplishments.
If you write medical related fiction, it would be great to know that you are a nurse. If you own a pet grooming business, and your books are always centered around animals, great. But reader doesn’t want to know that you graduated from the top of your class at Havard if you write cozy mysteries – unless it helps them understand who you are and why you write what you write.
Get personal within reason. Once again, frame the “human” side of your bio in regard to your genre and what your readers want to know. I am a huge Dr. Who fan, but my readers probably wouldn’t care because I write romance. But if I was a sci-if author, then this might be information we want to include. Do you live on a ranch in the West?
Write in 3rd person. I know it may feel awkward writing about yourself in 3rd person, but if it hurts that much, make a joke about it in your bio.
Jane Doe is a best-selling author of chick lit novels. She has won three awards, and would be hesitant to brag about them if she wasn’t writing in third person.
Remember, keep your audience in mind – she writes Chick-lit, a genre known for its humor. This may not be appropriate for other genres.
Another tid-bit on third person – ensure that you have a balance of pronouns and your actual name.
Keep it short, begin with a bio of about 250 words. After you have refined that version, you will want to create a longer version for your website. Also create shorter bios for other PR occasions. I was a guest judge for InD’tale’s RONE awards, and they required a 75 word bio – max. At the time, my bio was 236 words long. You should have several bios on hand from as little as 50 words to a couple of paragraphs.