Did you know that your author bio is a critical part of your media engagement and your book marketing efforts, and is often the most visited page of your author website other than your landing page?
I’ve written about your website’s bio page before, and this time I thought I’d make it specific to what authors need to do to get their bio page in tip top shape.
If you think about it, your readers will be spending a bunch of time with you indirectly — they might spend their last moments before falling asleep each day, or their commute to & from work, or on a long road trip in audiobook form, or waiting for a loved one at a doctor’s appointment. You, and the universe you create through your writing, is interwoven into the fabric of their daily lives, so how you present yourself through your author brand is an important part of that indirect relationship. There’s a reason there’s often a large author photo and a little bio about authors at the end of a book — it’s because readers want to know more about the person they’ve just spent a bunch of time with, and who they are is important.
So, where do you start? Sometimes you see authors tell you the basics — where they live and how many kids they have. I’d say that’s a missed opportunity. Your author bio gives you a chance to not only connect with your readers so that they want to read your future books, but also to attract people to your other projects, such as doing speaking engagements, or your podcast, or video series, or webinars, etc..
Here’s what I mean:
Example 1 – Firstname Lastname is a professional ice sculptor for Disneyland. She lives in southern California with her family where she enjoys playing racquetball and making French pastries in her spare time.
Example 2 – Firstname Lastname dreams about what her book’s characters will get up to next while sculpting ice at Disneyland. Her podcast, Sculpting Ice by Day [link], explores how she balances her work as a fantasy author with the rest of her life in southern California.
Both of the above examples are relatively short (there is a reason for you to have a longer bio and we’ll talk about that in a moment), but the second one not only puts it in the context of her work, but also fits in some keywords like “fantasy author” and provides a link to her podcast to draw new audiences.
You also need multiple bio lengths in your back pocket. You need a super short one for your Twitter profile (for example), a mid-length one for the bottom of blog posts or articles about you, and a longer one for your author website.
With that in mind, here’s what you can consider in terms of the content of your author bio:
- Your opening line. I like this to be brief, descriptive, and punchy. There’s a formula you can use: “I do ___, for ___, so that they can ___.” Example: “Firstname Lastname is a fantasy author writing for millennial women who aren’t waiting around for Mr. Right to show up.” Think of it like a tagline for your business of being an author.
- Additional description. What do you write about? Talk about what genre you write for, whether it’s historical, if it’s funny, or serious, or any other relevant details. And why are you passionate about it? What led you to write what you do over everything else? Is there an author who inspired you, or a story in your life that led you here? Let your personality shine through here, and keep it in line with your author branding. Writing in first person makes it easier for your readers to connect with you, while writing in third person makes it easier for people to write about you — so I recommend you choose based on the context in which your bio will most often exist.
- Your credentials. If you write historical fiction and have a degree in Shakespeare, that’s relevant. As is your participation in writing groups or conferences you’ve spoken at or past books you’ve written. You get the picture.
- Share photos and stories. Relevant stories about your life can be very charming, and showing photos that illustrate the stories is a wonderful value add. The combination of the stories and the images will help your readers better remember information about you, and be more likely to share it with friends.
- Don’t be shy. This isn’t the time for mystery. Your author bio is another marketing tool, so downplaying your achievements or personality is only doing a disservice to you. There are plenty of shy people out there online who are successfully marketing themselves — they’ve just decided on a voice and amount of information that both does the job, but also feels true to themselves. You can be charming and informative without giving up your deepest secrets.
Lastly, this page should also contain things like the signup for your mailing list, and/or your social media profile links, and/or a link to contact you about speaking engagements, and/or link(s) to your writing online. As much as your author bio is a stand-alone document, it’s also part of your larger author brand and marketing efforts. Don’t neglect to tie it into the rest of your platform to get the best bang for your buck!