The author biography is oftentimes the last item we think about as self-published authors. As a result, we may even consider it to be the least important part of our marketing strategy. It's fluff, words to fill in space, right? No, not by a long shot. In many ways, it can be as important as your one-sentence pitch, and it is a key component for you to build your personal brand.
I've developed a few author bios as my career and experience progressed. And looking over them with a critical eye, my very first bio was my most successful. It was short out of necessity, because I didn't bring a lot to the table in the way of credentials. It was for my first book and all I had going for me at the time was that my family claimed to really like it. I knew enough to know that wasn't a great selling point. I sat down and wrote bio after bio trying to make myself sound a lot more important than I really was. The harder I tried, the less authentic the bio read. After literally hours of trying and failing, I set the project aside and walked through my house, trying to figure out who I was. I patted my dog for inspiration. I made sure that cats had food. I flipped through the mail and rolled my eyes at a mortgage statement. I stared at my wedding picture on the mantel, and that's when it hit me. This is who I am. I'm just a regular guy who wants you to read my book. So, I wrote the following bio:
R.W. Ridley lives in Charleston, SC with his beautiful wife, a hyperactive dog, three arrogant cats, and one ugly mortgage.
That was it. I added it to the back cover, and didn't give it another thought. An odd thing started happening. I got e-mails from people telling me they loved my bio. I'd show the book to people at book fairs and signing events, and they'd flip the book over, read the bio, and laugh. They'd walk off with a copy of the book based on the bio. The book has now been on the market for five years, and I still get remarks about the bio. This one was even posted in a recent review:
For that ugly mortgage Haven't read it yet, but the "ugly mortgage" comment gave me a giggle
I changed my bio for later books because I felt it needed to include information about awards I had won and other books I had published, but I've never received a single comment about those. Credentials are important and include them whenever possible, especially if you're writing as an expert on the topic of the book, but don't use that as an excuse not to connect with your readers.
What's the lesson? Write the bio in third person, but take the opportunity to let it reflect your personality. And by all means, keep it short.
Think you've mastered the art of the author bio? Share it in the comments!
Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.