As more and more of my clients are [this close] to releasing their books, I find I’m talking with them a lot about writing their “About the Author” page for their books.
Know that you’re going to need an About the Author for more than JUST the end of the book! You’ll need it for press releases, speaker one-sheets, and more.
And, you should update this at LEAST once a year! After all, things change. I’ve had to update mine to add in that I’m now a mom of TWO.
Here are my top 7 rules for writing a kick-ass author bio!
1. Write in third person
Use your full name the first time. (Be sure to decide which variation of your name you want to use! I’ve been transitioning from Kimberly to Kim – I like Kim better!) You’ll use plenty of pronouns so be sure to intermingle your name in there as well. It’s up to you if you’ll use your first name or your last. Personally, I usually use my first name (Kim) and save the Ms. Eldredge for more formal bits of writing. Now, if I was DOCTOR Eldredge, I might be more inclined to use “Dr. Eldredge” as opposed to Kim.
2. You’ll have different versions of the bio
At a bare minimum, you’ll need three versions:
- End-of-book (300-500 words)
- End-of-article (100-200 words)
- Blurb (25 words or less)
AND you might have different variations on the bio as well. I write in two distinct genres, outdoor recreation and book publishing. My bio for my outdoor recreation books isn’t going to impress the entrepreneurial world; they don’t care many year’s camping experience I have!
Don’t forget that each version needs to link your opt-in gift!
3. Lead with your credibility
This can be your degree, training or certificates. Just make sure it applies! If you have a certificate in underwater basket weaving but your book is about investing, it might be best to leave that “credential” off. Your credibility can also include awards you’ve won, memberships, and education. This can be a bit dry (okay so a LOT dry) so limit it to the most relevant. Also skip the alphabet soup UNLESS you know your audience will
- KNOW what the abbreviation means
- CARE that you have earned it.
4. Review your bio annually
At LEAST! Your bio will change and evolve as your career does, so you’ll want to put this on your annual to-do list as something to review and make sure it’s still relevant. I personally review mine in the fall – before any pre-Holiday releases. Plus, it saves from the OTHER annual review items that happen around New Years.
5. Let your personality shine through
While you want to be professional, your readers are READING your bio because they want to know a bit about you. Give it to them! I like to keep it short but I want my readers to know I’m a real person behind the keyboard. This is the perfect place to mention your hobbies and interests. Keep it brief and either SUPER interesting or relevant.
6. The demographics go at the end
And are usually just one sentence: “Kim lives in Chino Valley, Arizona, with her husband, Ben, their two kids, and a neurotic dog. In their spare time, the family can be found getting mud on their hiking boots.” When I was single, it was REALLY easy to fall into the stereotypical author and her cat stereotype. Then, I could mix it up by saying something like “Kim lives in Chino Valley, Arizona, with her dog and mostly-housebroken dragon.” But there does come a place where just leaving it alone helps. You want to give them a brief glimpse into your life, but you don’t need explain anything.
7. Invest in an author photo
A REALLY good author photo. From a professional photographer. Do NOT use a selfie or a snapshot or a group photo or a photo from your computer’s webcam. And don’t have your friend-with-a-good-camera-she-barely-knows-how-to-use take your picture!
Also skip images that have fancy effects or too much photoshopping. You do want to honor your readers by putting your best face forward—that is still 100% YOU. Even if you don’t like being photographed, an author photo is a non-negotiable fact of your author bio. Readers want to connect to YOU – as a person!
I get it that writing (or updating) your author bio can be as exciting as a root canal. But you still need it! That way, when somebody asks if they can re-publish one of YOUR articles, you can say yes and shoot off an email with your photo and bio.
It’s better to spend an afternoon working on this rather than have to dash off SOMETHING five minutes before a deadline!
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