A good author bio should be more than a collection of informative facts about you as a writer—it should also inspire readers to take action. If you’re self-publishing—or marketing and promoting any book—Self-Publishing Relief reveals what you need to know in order to turn your author bio into a book-selling, fan-building machine.
The Six Must-Have Elements Of Your Author Bio To Advance Your Writing Career
Headshot. Your writer portrait can create an instant connection between you and your reader—if it’s done right. It tells the story of who you are in a single stroke. It can establish you as someone your readers can relate to (which encourages fans to follow you online).
Example: Show your personality and reflect your genre. Choose natural lighting, keep your wardrobe simple, and relax. Here’s where you can learn how to create a great author portrait.
Bragging rights. Let’s be honest: Book buyers don’t always know what the major publishing industry awards are. But publishing pros care. Professional reviewers care. Librarians and booksellers care. Foreign rights deals agents care. So don’t shortchange yourself by leaving out your “dry” publishing credits—but don’t include so many that a potential book buyer’s eyes will glaze over.
Example: NAME is a national best-selling author with an ardent fanbase in over a dozen countries. She has been the recipient of the Hoity-Toity Award, and has over five thousand five-star reviews for her books on Goodreads.
Not well published yet? Don’t worry about it. Here’s how to write a great bio even if you don’t have many publishing credits.
“About Me” description. After listing their impressive publishing credits, most writers like to include a word about themselves. This is not just for fun. Personal insights into a writer’s life can pay dividends in the form of social media followers and even book sales. If you are going to include a bit of personal information, keep it short, brief, and truly interesting. A little bit of humor rarely goes awry. Just be sure to avoid TMI in your professional biography.
Example: When not writing, NAME loves canoeing in the Adirondacks, walking his two scruffy rescued dogs on the AT, participating in Iron Man and Tough Mudder competitions, and sleeping like the dead.
Links to your author website URL and social media profiles. Many writers fail to include their author website in their bios, or don’t mention the social media platforms they’re on. But that’s a huge missed opportunity! Your author bio is the central hub of your online promotional efforts. It’s the place where you can harness the power of an email campaign. In a best-case scenario, your author bio will give readers a reason to visit your website (like one of these effective digital freebies), and to follow you on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc.
Example: To download a free novella, visit NAME’s website at URLgoesHERE.com. And follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! (Provide links to each social media profile.)
Current project updates. Some writers might find it advantageous—in certain circumstances—to mention upcoming projects. For example: the author of a short story collection may find it helpful to note that a novel is forthcoming. Or a series author might hint at the pub date of the next installment—just to keep fans paying attention.
Example: NAME is currently working on a sequel to her debut book that is projected to be available next summer.
Author brand/personal image. Your author bio reinforces the core message of your author brand. If your books are moody, serious, and literary, your bio should reinforce that. Your bio can also be used to tell your personal story. As a writer, you know about the importance of using narrative to inspire emotions. You are the main character in the story of your bio. Here’s how you can use your own narrative as a tool for marketing.
Example: NAME grew up in a cabin with no running water in Appalachia, and he credits his unplugged childhood as the reason why he remains low-tech and writes his manuscripts by hand. He was eventually offered the Fancy Name Scholarship at Such And Such University.
Is One Author Bio Enough?
Remember, you might need to tweak your author bio on occasion to meet the needs of a given market. So keep a file with all of your author bio variations handy!
Post your author bio tips in our comments section to share with other self-published writers.