Tips for Writing Your Author Bio
By Richard Ridley
To many, writing an author bio is an enigma wrapped in a riddle buried with Blackbeard's treasure. It's hard to know what is and isn't relevant. What sets one author bio apart from another? Does work experience count? Is it accolades that matter most? What about education - does that make a difference? How can you express who you really are while meeting readers' expectations of you as an author?
The task of writing an author bio can be daunting because it is more than just information about the author. It is a crucial element in your branding strategy. How you present the information is as important as what you are presenting. Your bio is something many readers will see before ever reading your book, so its tone and verbiage may lead them to make assumptions about your book's contents.
The task of writing a bio isn't daunting if you know where to start and how to finish. Let's get started with some basic guidelines.
Basic Guidelines to Writing an Author Bio
- Distance Yourself. Get ready to embrace your multiple personalities, because your author persona is not writing your author bio. Your marketing persona is. You have to completely separate yourself from the author within and approach your bio from the third person. If a reader sees the pronoun "I" in a bio, he or she is likely to deduce that it's self-indulgent and amateurish.
- You Are Your Genre. Before you write your bio, you must commit to a genre. It's important to understand what kind of book you have written in order to reflect readers' expectations. If you've written a dark horror novel, a bright, perky description of the author isn't going to help you reach your target fanbase.
- Always Be Branding. The author bio is essentially your business card. What do you usually find on a business card? Contact information. If you haven't given readers some way to get in touch with you, you missed the opportunity to interact with a fan, and interaction means everything in today's hyper-connected world. Give them a web address. Tell them where to find you on Facebook and Twitter. You could even create an email address specifically for fan email. Give them access to you, even if it's just virtual access.
- Keep It Brief. Brevity is the soul of wit. Even if you're William Shakespeare, you don't want to write an author bio that fills up the entire back cover. In an odd twist of logic, the more accomplished you are as an author, the shorter your author bio can be. Pick up a Stephen King or Cormac McCarthy novel and you're likely to see an author bio that's about 25 words. Pick up a book by an author you've never heard of, and you might see a bio that's 125 words. The more established the brand, the shorter the bio. If you have no brand recognition yet, I suggest targeting a word count of 75, with a 10-word cushion on either side of your target.
- Be Humble. Establish a sense of humility to connect with the reader. In your bio, you are laying out a case to readers about why they should choose your book over another author's. Chances are, you have competition out there, so you have to walk the fine line of setting yourself apart without being a braggart.
- Get Personal. Including some personal information in your bio is a good thing. If you have two kids and a dog that are very important to who you are as human, include that information. Personal facts are a nice complement to all those incredible achievements you've included; it gives you depth and helps you make an emotional connection with the reader. If your list of achievements is somewhat lacking, the personal information that makes you who you are can more than make up for it.
- Fiction vs. Nonfiction. There are key differences to writing an author bio for a fiction book and a nonfiction book. Nonfiction relies heavily on an author's credentials as it pertains to the book's subject matter, even if that subject matter is a memoir. How the author is an authority on the material is extremely important. Credentials for fiction writers can be important in the mystery and suspense genres. For example, an ex-police officer who pens a mystery novel can make a great impression on readers. However, one's education and experience outside of the world of writing is far less important in the fiction category. Bios for fiction authors might do well to focus on the personal aspects highlighted above.
Those basics will get you started thinking about how you will write your author bio. Remember, your author bio is a part of your brand, so make sure it is a reflection of who you really are as an author.
In my next article, I'll go deeper into three types of author bios. Until then, try your hand at creating your bio and share it in the comments.
Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.
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