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 [click here for a checklist you can use to keep track of the places we’ve mentioned]. 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 in first person, 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 the traditional 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 be sure to 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):
Maria Forleo Born-and-raised Jersey girl with nothing more than passion, a laptop and a dream, Marie Forleo has created a socially conscious digital empire that inspires millions across the globe. Named by Oprah as a thought leader for the next generation, she’s the star of the award-winning show MarieTV, with almost 50 million views, and host of The Marie Forleo Podcast, with more than ten million downloads. Marie has taught entrepreneurs, artists, and multipassionate go-getters from all walks of life how to dream big and back it up with daily action to create results. She runs the acclaimed business training program, B-School. Learn more at www.MarieForleo.com
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 the short and long versions of Patrick’s bio here, along with a brilliant two-line tutorial on how to correctly pronounce his last name).
Stephanie Chandler is the author of several books including The Nonfiction Book Publishing Plan: The Professional Guide to Profitable Self-Publishing and The Nonfiction Book Marketing Plan: Online and Offline Promotion Strategies to Build Your Audience and Sell More Books. Stephanie is also founder and CEO of the Nonfiction Authors Association, a vibrant educational community for writers, and the Nonfiction Writers Conference, twice-yearly events conducted entirely online.
A frequent speaker at business events and on the radio, she has been featured in Entrepreneur, BusinessWeek, and Wired magazines.
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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