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How to Write a Killer Author Bio

You’ve spent countless hours crafting the perfect words to write your book. It’s now time to continue on your path through the publishing process. Some steps are dependent on whether you intend to self publish or find a publisher to work with, but some are crucial regardless of your path.

One of those necessary steps is having a well-written author bio. An author bio helps your readers connect with you and ultimately, further connect with your work.

man at a table writing in a notebook

These days, readers don’t want you to just be a mysterious last name and first initials, so here are a few things to consider:

What Should Your Author Bio Include?

So, what should your bio include? It depends in part on what you are writing, but you should at least cover the following:

  1. What credentials you have for writing the book? If you are writing non-fiction you might want to mention your work experience in related fields, any training you have, etc. For fiction, mention other fiction publications. If you have a few short story sales, mention the best ones. If you have sold to The New Yorker or Asimov’s, absolutely include it, especially as your readers might even remember the story if their memory is jogged. Do not, however, overdo it. Only note things that are relevant. 
  2. Something that makes you unique. Examples of things that people have included in author bios include an unusual hobby, favorite food, etc. Anything that might make a reader go “Interesting! I should check this out.” You want people to feel connected to you in some way, and relating on an unexpected level can spark immediate interest.
  3. Why you write and/or why you wrote that particular book. People tend to resonate with the “why,” as it is often the source of a writer’s passion. This is all about establishing yourself as a memorable author to your reader, and possibly a new favorite author to your reader!

Third or First Person?

In most cases your author bio should be written in third person, including your name. This is the professional standard. However, some authors do have success with first person. For example, if your book is written from the first person POV, you might consider a first person bio for consistency.

Do You Need a Call to Action?

Self-published authors are often advised to include a call to action in their bio. Whether you should depends on where the bio is being printed. If it’s inside the back cover of your book, you can afford to leave it out. If it’s on your web page, then you can direct people to specific links to your work.

If you do use a call to action, keep it brief and avoid giving out personal contact information. Use your social media or an email address you have set up for this specific purpose, so as to keep the inevitable spam out of your personal inbox.

Some people argue that a call to action makes a book look more self published. If you are submitting to publishers, leave out the call to action. 

hand holding pen, beginning to write on a blank page

How Many Bios do You Need?

One, right? Not necessarily. You may discover you need several. For example, many authors have a generic bio that they put on their website but then put a different, more custom bio in each book. Just like a resume, you should customize your bio for the source material.

If you write short fiction and/or poetry, publishers may ask you for a bio of a specific length, so it’s a good idea to have a very short two or three sentence bio for this purpose.

If you also do speaking engagements, you’ll need a bio for that too. In some cases you can write one bio and then tweak it when necessary.

Embrace that your bio will change over time. You should update your “master” bio any time you publish a new book or have a major life event that could be relevant to your readers. Make sure that if people, such as convention staff or publishers, have a standard bio for you that you proactively send them the update, before they ask for it.

Where Should You Post or Provide Your Author Bio?

You should post your bio in the following locations:

  1. On your website. If you don’t have an author website, you should put one together ahead of the publication of your book.
  2. In the back (or inside cover) of your book.
  3. On your social media profiles.

You should also provide your bio to:

  1. Agents or publishers you are submitting to.
  2. Magazines and anthologies if requested. Some publishers don’t want or need a bio, some ask for it on submission, some ask for it on acceptance.
  3. Bookstores and libraries you are trying to get to host a signing or reading.
  4. Conventions and events when you apply to be a speaker.
  5. Directory listings of speakers and writers.

Your author bio is a vital part of your brand, but can often be difficult to write. In addition to the tips above, you should dive into other people’s bios to see what makes a good one stand out. Interested in learning more ways to stand out as an author? Check out BookBoro’s blog for other writing tips, publishing advice, and more!

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