So you are creating a platform, and doing a good job of it. But before you can get the world’s attention, they’re going to want to know why they should listen to you.
What is your central message? You can’t just say ‘buy my book.’ Well, you could- but it should really be a little more subtle than that.
As a first time author, you’re not just selling your book, you’re selling yourself. People will want to know more about you before they invest time in reading your book or your blog, and an author’s bio is one of the first places they’re going to start. That’s why you have to create a killer author’s bio.
An author’s bio is designed to:
1. Tell who you are
2. What publications you have had in the past
3. What credentials you have
But how do you write one? Well, it works exactly like the biographical paragraph in a cover letter, only people have spent years and thousands of dollars preparing for their career. Most people have trouble keeping that to just one paragraph.
As an unpublished writer, chances are you’ll be staring at a blank page. But talking about yourself is part of being a writer. It lets the reader know why they should listen to you.
Here are some tips on writing a standard bio. Remember: each medium is as different as each writer, and what may be appropriate for a blog or website, may not work for a twitter page. You’ll be best served by writing 2 or 3 different lengths of bios. See the examples for a better idea.
1. Write in third person. It’s definitely weird to introduce yourself or discuss yourself in the third person anywhere else, but here, it’s the professional way to start.
2. Don’t be embarrassed about not having been published. There are ways for a first-time writer to sound like an industry insider. Let’s say you have written a poem about a mermaid that saved a drowning boy’s life. First of all, you are already a freelancer because you are sending this article to a publisher. Second, you are a poet because this is a poem. Now, you can say, “Jane Doe is a freelance writer and poet.” Sounds a lot better than “Jane Doe has never been published,” don’t you think?
3. Don’t make not having been published a big deal either. Feel free to mention it, but don’t harp on the fact that you’re still undiscovered. It won’t instill confidence in your reader to know that you have been writing for 20 years but have never been published.
4. What you do. Anything relevant to a specific story or genre. If your book is about an agricultural lawsuit, you may want to mention that you are a farmer. If you are a nurse, go ahead and leave that part blank. The same goes for genres. If you’re a teacher and you write young adult or middle grade fiction, mention that. If you’re a teacher and you write erotic novels, not only will you want to leave that information out, you may want to also consider writing under a pseudonym.
5. Personal Information. It helps to make a connection to the reader. Take a few seconds to mention your kids, your pets, your hobbies.
6. Where you live. It’s not fair, but a lot of people draw conclusions about you based on where you live. If you are in someplace glamorous or exotic, mention it. Also, if your story takes place in the same place where you live, that’s worth mentioning as well.
7. Mention any group you are a part of. Have you joined any book clubs, writing groups, or professional writer’s guilds? If so, it’s definitely worth mentioning in your bio. Even if you haven’t been published, this information shows that you are at least serious about your craft.
8. What you are up to. If someone stumbles across your blog and decides they’re a fan, let them know what you’re working on. Note: This is the best place to subtly insert your book’s sales pitch.
9. Make it brief and professional. A bio should really just be three or four lines. Stick to the point, don’t repeat yourself, make it somewhat entertaining.
Rishonda Anthony (Blog)
Rishonda Anthony is a freelance writer, author, and amateur historian based out of Richmond, Virginia. She is the creator of the blogs ‘Rishonda Writes’ and ‘The Backyard Explorer,’ and is a frequent contributor to the Agile Writer’s Club. Her first novel, Seraphim, is currently being considered for agent representation. Her latest project is a follow up to the Ashes of Angels series, called Cherubim. It is scheduled for completion by the end of 2013.
Karen Wyle (Book Jacket- science fiction)
Karen Wyle has been reading science fiction nonstop for some decades. The day she met her husband, they spent two hours talking about Robert Heinlein. Eventually, inevitably, she ended up writing science fiction. Karen is also a photographer, writes picture books, follows politics obsessively, and practices law. She has two daughters who are also writers and artists.
Stephen King (Author Website)
Stephen King was born in Portland, Maine in 1947, the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. He made his first professional short story sale in 1967 to Startling Mystery Stories. In the fall of 1973, he began teaching high school English classes at Hampden Academy, the public high school in Hampden, Maine. Writing in the evenings and on the weekends, he continued to produce short stories and to work on novels. In the spring of 1973, Doubleday & Co., accepted the novel Carrie for publication, providing him the means to leave teaching and write full-time. He has since published over 50 books and has become one of the world’s most successful writers.
Stephen lives in Maine and Florida with his wife, novelist Tabitha King. They are regular contributors to a number of charities including many libraries and have been honored locally for their philanthropic activities.
E.L. James (Facebook Page)
E L James is a former TV executive, wife and mother-of-two based in West London. Since early childhood she dreamed of writing stories that readers would fall in love with, but put those dreams on hold to focus on her family and her career. She finally plucked up the courage to put pen to paper with her first novel, Fifty Shades of Grey. She is also the author of Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed.
Anne Rice (Twitter Page)
I am an American Author.
That’s what I have. If I missed anything, please sound off in the comments.
Special research thanks to the following blog: