Now that you've written your book, there are a few final pieces of content you want to make sure you remembered to add.
Have you written an Acknowledgments section? If not, you may want to read "What Should I Say In My Acknowledgments?"
Have you written your author biography? If not, this article is for you!
According to Scribe Writing, "Writing about yourself is a task that many even full-time writers shy away from. Don't make this mistake. A few simple steps can get an effective bio that will impress interested readers and help sell your book." (scribewriting.com)
We completely agree. Writing an author bio doesn't have to be hard. But it does have to serve a purpose.
If someone has just enjoyed reading your book, you want to make sure they remember who wrote it. That way, your name will stand out for them when they see another of your books, whether now or in the future.
So, make your author bio personable. This is not simply a history of your education and work, although that may be relevant to establish your expertise for the book you've written. This is about what you hope to accomplish with your writing. Ideally, this aligns with why the reader picked up your book in the first place. Let your reader see the real you, quirks and all!
We have found that the more character authors add to their bios, the more engaged readers become with them. So, don't hesitate to share your caffeine addiction, marital status, unusual habits, and whatever else makes you uniquely you. But balance this with the understanding that how you write your author bio will influence the way readers perceive you.
Make sure that your bio provides enough detail to establish your expertise, but also presents you as a person, sharing your interests and hobbies.
For nonfiction, that will mean providing some details regarding your education, credentials, career and affiliations, highlighting only the relevant points. (Remember, this is not a resume!)
For fiction, especially first-time authors, it may mean sharing about your compelling reason to write and what you've accomplished thus far in your pursuit of that goal.
7 Elements of an Author Bio
Here are some general rules for writing an engaging author bio:
- Write in the third person. This means, instead of using "I," you use your name or a pronoun like "she" or "he."
- Match the tone to that of your book. The tone of your author bio should ultimately match the tone of your writing. So, if your book is humorous and light-hearted, your bio should be as well. But if your book is more serious, your bio should be too.
- Share something about who you are. This can include educational or career information, but might also include factors that influenced your desire to write.
- It's okay to brag (a little). If you've received any awards, honors or recognition for your work or are well-known by celebrity influencers, let your readers know. Or if you've written other books, been published elsewhere, etc. this is a good time to let your readers know that.
- Don't hide your passion. Writers are often passionate people. As creatives, an idea can take hold of us and we need to follow it to see where it leads us. Let your passion show. Don't be stilted or boring!
- Writers are people too. Your readers want to know you. So, share a few personal tidbits like where you live, your marital status, the pets you love, etc.
- Finish with a call to action. Let your readers know how they can keep in touch with you, whether that's following you on social media, signing up for your mailing list (our recommendation), or writing to you.
It can be hard to write about yourself. And since your author bio is an important part of your marketing, it's important to get it right.
When you've drafted the best bio you can, run it by a few friends for feedback. They're likely to suggest ideas or rephrase things because it's easier for them to see how amazing you really are.
A Thought about Length
You'll hear varying recommendations for how long an author bio should be. Some experts recommend keeping them fairly short, say 75 to 150 words. Others tolerate a bit longer.
Really, your author bio should be as long as it needs to be in order to achieve what it needs to without boring your reader. Writers with more experience are going to have more information to share that is of interest to readers. First-time authors will likely have less.
So, whether your bio is 75 words or 300, as long as it holds your reader's interest, that's what counts. But your aim here is to make your author bio short, relevant and interesting.
The first time you write an author bio, the blank page may make it hard to get started. Feel free to visit Amazon or your favorite online book retailer or review site to take a look at the bios of the top-selling authors in your genre.
Look for the commonalities among the bios. Which ones stand out to you the most and why?
Model your bio after theirs by using the same framework, but applying your own details.
The Finishing Touch
While the words of your author bio matter, so does the author photo you provide along with it.
Honestly, this element is so important, we could easily write an entirely separate article about it. But here are a few things to consider until we do.
Your author photo should convey how you want to be perceived. So, just as the tone of your bio should match your book in some way, your author photo should be aligned with that as well.
If your book is humorous and lighthearted, your photo may be too. But if your book is serious in nature, say a business book, you'll want your author photo to convey that professional attitude as well.
Many authors opt to get their photos taken by professional photographers, which is fine. But remember these aren't glamour shots. So, no hands near your face or odd glances back over your shoulder. No wearing a Carmen Miranda tutti-frutti hat (as one of our authors sent us, for fun).
Make sure your photographer knows what you plan to use the image for and what tone you want to strike so they can guide you to get the best photo possible.
Whether you work with a professional or have a friend take your picture, pay particular attention to the background and the lighting.
Many author photos will be converted to black and white at some point. So, having an uncluttered background is less distracting when that happens.
But the conversion to black and white can also highlight inconsistent lighting. A bright spot in one part of the photo will appear almost completely white compared to elsewhere in the photo. For that reason, if you're taking an outdoor photo, it's better to do it early in the day when the light is more subdued than in the middle of the afternoon when the sun is that much brighter.
Keep in mind that your author photo doesn't have to be just a professional headshot. It can be more casual and relaxed than that, if it suits your particular book's subject matter. But you definitely want it to be a well-composed image, whether your stance is professional or casual.
A Package Deal
The combination of your author bio and author photo will be used in many places as part of the marketing and promotion of yourself and your book. In addition to being used on or in the book itself, it's likely to also be used on your website, potentially on your publisher's website, on your book's listings, in the media, on your book's sell sheet, and in many of the promotional materials created for marketing along the way.
So make sure that the overall package represents you well and appeals to the right audience for your work.