Question: How do I write a great author bio for my book cover and website?



Your author biography or “About the Author” is your chance to let the reader know a little bit about you and any relevant information or credentials that support your ability to write the book they are considering purchasing. Think of it as your calling card.

It’s important to have several different versions of your biography including shorter versions for social media profiles or article mentions, and longer versions for your book’s cover, author website, author sales sheet, and more.

All authors should consider having a professional headshot for their bio, especially nonfiction authors. Key Elements of a Great Author Biography

Your author biography should accompany any mention of your work. It is a valuable tool in your book marketing kit that helps agents, publishers, media outlets, or potential readers get a sense of who you are and why your book will be a great read. New authors have the opportunity to introduce themselves, while more established authors have the opportunity to mention any accolades for previously published work.

Whether a debut or more experienced author, there are four main things you should try to accomplish with your author biography that will make it more effective:

1.  Establish your authority – share any credentials, areas of expertise, or awards that validate your ability to write on the topic or tell the story.

2.  Reveal your “why” – let readers know why you chose this topic or story, and why your perspective on it matters.

3.  Share something personal – are there interesting or relevant aspects of your background that might be intriguing to readers? Or, do you have hobbies or passions you want readers to know about? Sharing something personal allows readers to connect with you.

4.  Point to where they can find out more – if you have an online presence – and we highly recommend you do – include your author website address or a couple of your social media handles at the end. This important “call to action” will hopefully entice readers to learn more.

Some authors include information on where they grew up and where they currently live. You don’t have to share this type of personal information if you are not comfortable, but you could miss out on some local or regional opportunities if you don’t. For example, many media outlets like to support local authors and if you don’t include your location in your biography, you won’t show up in their research for potential interviews. Readers also love supporting local authors so you could miss out on some book sales as well.

If you’re writing under a pen name or pseudonym and wish to remain anonymous, don’t include any identifiable information in your biography. Instead, focus on establishing your authority as a writer and how your writer voice is unique.

Author biographies should always be written in 3rd person, which is the “he/she” voice. It can be strange to write about yourself in this way, so try drafting your biography in the 1st person “I” voice to start, and then convert it to 3rd when finalizing. When written in 3rd person, your author biography appears more professional and trustworthy.

Nonfiction authors should include relevant credentials, speaking, and services in their bios.Author Biography Tips for Nonfiction Authors

When writing in nonfiction categories such as business, how-to, self-help, or travel, it’s important to quickly establish why you are qualified to write on the topic. This can include relevant work or travel experience, degrees, or certifications. Readers want to know why they can trust the information or solutions you are presenting in your book. Here are some additional tips for nonfiction authors:         

•  Include any services you offer that are relevant to the topic.
•  Mention any speaking experience if you are available to speak on the topic.
•  Include a professional headshot when there is room.
•  When writing memoir, it’s important to include any personal information that is relevant to the experience or life event about which you are writing.

Fiction and children's authors should share their reasons for writing and other work in their bios.Author Biography Tips for Fiction Authors

For fiction authors, you want to be clear about the genres and subgenres you write in and the themes about which you enjoy writing. Fiction readers tend to gravitate toward specific categories of books because they enjoy the elements, tropes, and themes that are present. Including this information in your biography helps readers make an informed decision about the books they buy, and enables you to build a loyal readership. Here are some additional tips for fiction authors:

•  The tone of your biography should complement the tone of your writing. If your books are humorous, for example, include some humor in your biography.
•  Mention any accolades related to writing craft or bestseller status.
•  Share any awards or nominations you’ve received, even for short work.
•  If you’ve created a memorable author brand or have become known for a certain style of writing, be sure to include it.
•  Share what inspires your writing or ideas if relevant.

The Benefits of Preparing Multiple Author Biographies

It’s important to prepare at least three versions of your author biography that address different media and marketing needs. You’ll want a short and snappy version that can be plugged into your social media profile or added to any articles you publish. This version should be around 50 words or less and typically includes a couple of sentences that focus on your writing credentials, what you write, and where readers can find out more about you. While this may not seem like many words, you can see below that it provides ample space to include the key elements:

 The second version is what will be included on your book’s cover, Amazon author page, press release, author sell sheet, agent query letters, and other materials where you can dedicate a little more space to your biography. This version can be up to 150 words and should address all four elements of a great author biography noted above.

 Your third and longest author biography is an expanded version up to 250 words in length that can be used on your author website and in book proposals or pitch packages. In this version, you can expand on your writing background, personal information, and goals as an author. This is where you can “sell yourself” a little more as an author and connect with people on a deeper level.

 You might even find that you want to tailor your biography to a specific audience or event. The order in which you present the information may need to change based on the audience. No matter how many different versions you have in your kit, be sure to update them all as your writing career evolves. You can also save yourself and others time by including a few different versions on your author website.  

Before you start writing your author biography, make a list of everything you can potentially include. As you draft and revise, focus on the most pertinent pieces of information and cut the rest. Along with your book description and quotes from reviews or testimonials, your author biography should be a quick read that entices readers to learn more and buy your book.

Photo credit: Lacheev via Getty Images


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