As an author, there will be many situations where you will need to contribute your bio for promotional purposes. Your bio is often needed on your website in the “About” page and the “Media/Press” page, the back cover of your book, the last page of your book, at the end of articles or blog posts that you write, in your social media profiles, and in the agenda when you’re a speaker. Because of this, most authors can benefit from writing several bios in various lengths.
I personally keep a document on my desktop with various iterations of my bio, including versions at 50 words, 100 words, 200 words, and 500 words. Details are updated periodically when a new book is released or as life changes. I’ve used this document countless times for over a decade and strongly recommend that all authors create a similar document.
How to Write Your Basic Bio
An author bio is typically written in the third person, as if someone else is describing what you do. In professional settings, it is rare to see a bio written using phrases like “I did this, I wrote that book,” etc. The most likely time the use of “I” might be appropriate is on your website if you want it to feel a bit more casual. In most other professional scenarios, it’s best to stick with third person.
Keep in mind that media professionals and people who book you to speak or be a guest on a webinar, will often copy and paste your bio directly from your website so you should keep it up to date.
Your basic bio should include the most relevant details pertaining to your subject matter or expertise which can include:
- The title of your book
- Your area of expertise
- Any major media coverage you’ve received
- Publications that you write for
- Relevant business experience (if you offer related business services or you’re a speaker)
- A link to your website
Examples of Effective Author Bios (short version):
Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a leading authority on technology trends including big data, artificial intelligence and the social media revolution. He has lectured at numerous academic institutions including Purdue and Stanford Universities, and is a regular speaker for Bloomberg TV. Patrick is the founder of Trend Mastery Inc. and host of the Strategic Business Insights video blog (with over 17,000 subscribers and three million views on YouTube). He has spoken about business trends, technology and digital marketing at hundreds of conferences in dozens of cities around the world. (See multiple versions of Patrick’s bio here.)
Judith Orloff M.D. is featured regularly in print, broadcast and online media. Her unique and sought-after guidelines on how to recapture and affirm our energy, emotional wellness, and intuition have helped people worldwide to heal. Dr. Orloff’s work has been featured in O Magazine, Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal, Self, Cosmo, The Washington Times, and the New York Post. She has appeared on The Today Show, The Dr. Oz Show, Good Morning America Health, CBS Early Show, CNN, PBS, and NPR. Dr. Orloff’s work is featured on Beliefnet.com, iVillage, WebMD, AOL Health, and she is a blogger for the The Huffington Post and Psychology Today. Her national public television special “Emotional Freedom Now!” is based on her book “Emotional Freedom.”
Stephanie Chandler is the author of several books including The Nonfiction Book Marketing Plan: Online and Offline Promotion Strategies to Build Your Audience and Sell More Books and Own your Niche: Hype-Free Internet Marketing Tactics to Establish Authority in Your Field and Promote Your Service-Based Business. Stephanie is also founder and CEO of NonfictionAuthorsAssociation.com, a vibrant educational community for experienced and aspiring writers, and NonfictionWritersConference.com, an annual event conducted entirely online. A frequent speaker at business events and on the radio, she has been featured in Entrepreneur, BusinessWeek, and Wired magazine.
Kevin Smokler offers two versions of his bio here:
Dana Manciagli captures many important career highlights in her bio:
Back Cover Bio
There’s not much space on the back cover of a book so every word counts. Keep a cover bio short and sweet and related to the book. Avoid wasting space on mundane details like where you live or how many animals you have, unless it’s relevant to the subject matter of the book. This is the place to mention your qualifications for writing the book and also to include a website address.
About the Author Bio
For the “About the Author” section at the back of the book, anything goes. Of course, it should be interesting to read so you don’t want to write a mini-memoir, but you can expand on details. Here are items to consider including in your bio:
- Professional background
- Current business or profession
- Achievements or awards
- Previous publishing experience
- Personal details (family, city of residence, personal interests, etc.)
- Contact information (you want readers to reach out to you, right? Include your website URL and optionally include an e-mail address and phone number.)
- Professional photo (please, please, please don’t crop yourself out of a group photo or use something that looks unprofessional!)
Lastly, consider adding a call to action. If your book relates to your business, use the final pages to mention your products and services or make a special offer for readers. This is prime real estate and a chance for you to generate more business as a result.
It can be difficult to write your bio and toot your own horn, but it’s an essential part of your marketing collateral. If you need help, ask others to review your work and give you feedback, or hire a great copywriter to help you get a foundation. I also recommend sharing your bio in multiple lengths on your website, either in your “About” page or on your “Media/Press” page.
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