I love a good About page—the sort of well-written, personality-packed look at the author behind the book, the girl-boss behind the small business, the woman behind the art/business, etc.
I love the little details about who loves mugs, who puts pickles on grilled cheese, and I’m a sucker for knowing everyone’s enneagram type. My own About page is as much about the woman as it is the writer.
That’s your fun bio. I highly recommend that you also (and perhaps, first and foremost) have an official bio.
What’s your official bio?
The tidy little summary of who you are and what you write that can be used outside of your own platform (website, social profiles, etc)
Here are some tips for your official bio:
Write it in third person.
If you’re a writer, you already know what I mean by this, but in case we have some non-writers among us, here’s the difference between first and third person …
First Person: I love dirty martinis.
Third Person: She loves dirty martinis.
As I mentioned above, the entire reason for having an official bio is to provide an efficient, high-level summary of who you are for use on websites/publications/television shows outside of your own platform.
And a first-person bio will be out of context anywhere other than your personal website/social media profiles.
Think about the magazines/newspapers/professional sources you read. The about sections never start with, “I’m a dreamer, animal-lover and crafter of words!” They say, “Lindsay Doe is the author of whimsical young adult fantasy …”
I know it feels awkward and uncomfortable to write about yourself in the third person. Do it anyway. Trust me.
Keep it short
For the same reason mentioned above, keep your bio to one paragraph, just the core details.
Things to include:*
- Your name.
- What you write (genre).
- Any credentials (award-winning, bestseller status, claims-to-fame).
- Where you live (in case a local source wants to feature you!)
- A little taste of who you are (i.e., “married mother of four rowdy boys, whose non-writing hours involve soccer practice, binge-watching the Bachelor, and cooking a mean lasagna.)
It’s okay to add your voice! Your bio can by all means have personality–just make sure you don’t get wordy. I recommend writing multiple drafts of your bio. Every time you revise, cut something. Eventually, you’ll find a way to create a concise bio that also reflects your voice.
*You don’t need to include your alma mater if you’re a fiction writer! When I was starting out, I saw this in a LOT of sample bios, but it’s really only important if you’re a non-fiction writer and that’s an essential part of your credentials, or if you’re a recent graduate looking to fill the gaps a little bit.
Consider having a short-version bio
For placements with very limited word counts (any print publication), consider a 1-2 sentence format of your bio, in addition to your slightly longer bio for web-sources, bloggers, etc.
A short bio might read like this:
Lauren Layne is the New York Times bestselling author of over twenty romantic comedies. She lives in New York City with her high school sweetheart.
Make your bio easy to find
On your official website, label your bio as “about” or “bio” in your site’s navigation. The navigation bar is not the place to get clever! Don’t make The Today Show try to figure out that “the 411” or “the man behind the curtain” is your official bio.
Also, think twice before labeling your bio as “Meet Sara.” It’s not awful, but the more famous you get, it will be confusing as people want to come meet you in person. “Meet Sara” is a better name for your events/appearances page, not your About/Bio page.