Write an Author Bio They’ll Remember
Sometimes it’s hard to believe how difficult it can be to write about yourself in a bio—after all, you’re a writer! But I understand it’s not as simple as that, so here are a few tips to make it easier.
Write your bio in first person for query letters, third person for most other purposes including proposals, book jackets, article bylines. Memoir writers can write the bio in first person if appropriate.
Make it professional but you also need to convey personality and writing style. Don’t try too hard to be funny, but include something that makes you seem like a real person.
What gives you credibility? What makes you interesting? What helps people connect with you? (When you’re on Twitter, Facebook or your blog, what kinds of posts seem to get the most comments?) These are things you can briefly include.
If your book centers on something specific—the Civil War, for example—are you a member of a Civil War society? Have you published any articles in historical journals? Include that.
Try not to include too much “resumé” type information–education, job history, etc. because it tends to be boring. Only include what’s relevant to the book you’re pitching.
As you write a bio, consider carefully the purpose of the bio – who is the audience? Is it agents and editors? Is it your blog readers? Tailor it to this audience.
How to write a bio if you have no publishing credits:
- If you’re a member of a writers’ organization such as SCBWI, ACFW or ASJA, you can mention it.
- You can mention if you’re a member of critique group or if you have a degree in literature or writing.
- Don’t say something like “I’ve been writing stories since I was two years old.”
- Keep it short and sweet, i.e. “Jane Smith is a fifth grade teacher in Bellingham, Washington, and is a member of RWA.”
A bio for a query letter:
- For FICTION, if you’re unpublished, it should be one to two sentences—about 50 words or fewer.
- For NON-FICTION, it should be longer, enough sentences to establish your credits, credentials, and/or platform in the subject matter of your book.
Some tips for the process of writing a bio:
- Read author bios in a dozen different books. Note what you like and don’t like.
- Make a list of things you MIGHT want to say about yourself. Try to list 20 to 30 things—don’t self-edit, because you don’t want to leave anything out. Later you can choose the best elements to include.
- Write two or three bios of different lengths and keep them on file so that you have them ready when you need them.
- Trade author bios with a writer friend and help each other make them interesting.
What has worked for you? Comment to this post and share!
Photo by Alina Miroshnichenko on Unsplash
[…] No matter what publishing path you take, you will need an author bio. Rachel Gardner tells us how to write an author bio people will remember. […]
I’m kind of new to your blog (just this year as a matter of fact) –so I need these tips. And depending on the agents/agencies, there are different guidelines that may need to be followed. Whether I’m ever published or not, I still consider myself a student and glad to get a peek at what is expected; as reminders, if some information remains the same, or is updated. Thank you!
[…] How to Write an Author Bio They’ll Remember Sometimes it’s hard to believe how difficult it can be to write about yourself in a bio—after all, you’re a writer! But I understand it’s not as simple as that, so here are a few tips to make it easier. Write your bio in first person for query letters, third person for most other purposes including proposals, book jackets, […] The post How to Write an Author Bio They’ll Remember appeared first on Rachelle Gardner. What the Heck is Content Marketing? I’m always talking with authors about marketing their books and growing their platforms. It’s a challenge for most writers, who are constantly trying to figure out the formula for gathering more fans (i.e. potential book-buyers). While writers typically don’t love the idea of marketing their books, ironically they’re more suited to it than many other […] The post What the Heck is Content Marketing? appeared first on Rachelle Gardner. […]
I spent an afternoon trying to help a co-worker, in vain, to improve his boring bio. When we were finally done, he asks, “Do you think we should have included all the work I did in Antarctica?”
Great tips. I edit my writer friends’ bios all the time and remind them to be personable. It’s easy to write a stiff formal CV-style bio, but takes a little imagination and flair to interest their readers. I’m sharing!
[…] en qué pocas líneas resumiremos nuestra biografía de escritor. Incluyámosla en nuestras plataformas personales y […]
I would think that others would be interested that I have degrees in Photography and Cinema and law. When I meet people, they think it’s interesting. Author’s bios frequently include too little information. If non-fiction, do they have a degree which reflects their knowledge of the subject? If fiction, do they have a working knowledge of their characters’ environments. Note: if this comes out in the novel, then it doesn’t need to be in the bio. I once spent many hours researching the historical background of a novel before I passed it along to others just to make sure it was accurate because the actions took place decades before my life. (It was.) I would have appreciated the authors telling me the extent of their research so I would not have had to repeat it.
You say, “Try not to include too much “resumé” type information–education, job history, etc. . . ”
I agree with this totally.
Recently I received an email from a publicist asking me if I wanted to receive a complimentary copy of a retirement book written by two women, one with a Ph.D and the other with the designations CPA, MBA. The authors actually plastered the cover of their with their educational designations. I was not impressed. In fact, this was enough for me to decide that I had no interest in receiving a copy of the book and possibly writing something about it on my websites or on an Amazon review.
Some people may think that I am envious of their education. Not so. I have an MBA and an Engineering degree. I would never place this in my bio, however, because it is totally irrelevant for writing books on retirement and on many other matters that I write about as well.
I am constantly reminded by these words of wisdom by this French philosopher:
“I prefer the company of peasants because they have not been educated sufficiently to think incorrectly.”
— Michel de Montaigne
In short, just because you have gotten a PhD doesn’t mean that you have the ability to write a book that will resonate with readers. If you want to impress me, let me know how the book will entertain me or make a big difference in my life. Your degrees are totally irrelevant.