5 Tips to a Better Author Bio
# 1 - Do not write your bio in first 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.
Your author bio, or the section on the “about” page of your website, should absolutely be in third person—never first.
(it can have both, in different sections, and we'll get to that later, but at the very least, you must have a third person version!)
Why? Because a first-person bio will be out of context anywhere other than your personal website/social media profiles.
And if you’re thinking, "So? I want to be personal! People are only going to be reading it on my website!"
Wrong! Writing your official bio in first person practically begs a media/news format not to include your bio in a feature, or worse, or not to work with you at all.
Think about it this way: a huge magazine/newspaper wants to review your book, or use a bit of content you’ve written, or maybe just feature you as a local author.
They’ll want to include an “about the author” section—your bio. To get that? They’ll go to your website, prepared to copy and paste.
If it’s in first person — they can’t use it. Or, they’re unlikely to use it.
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, or 3 short paragraphs (I’m a big fan of the line break).
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 character! Your bio can by all means have personality--just make sure you don't get wordy. It may take several versions! 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 brand.
*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.
My slightly longer bio is here, for comparison.
You can also create a “fun” version!
I love when authors do this!
In addition to the “must have” official bio I mention above that’s largely for publishers and media sources, by all means feel free to create a separate “off-the-record” version! That can be in first person, it can be a bullet list of trivia about you, a goofy picture, etc. If the official bio shows that you're a professional, an unofficial bio can show that you're fun.
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.