Let’s Talk About Me: Writing Your Bio

Your author photo?

Hi! I’m Anita Smoke and I write because I breathe! I right in many genres which makes my fans very happy. I never know what type of story I’ll be writing next! I was born in California but moved to Texas, Chicago, and finally Virginia when I married my soulmate. We’ve got four furry children, and boy is the bed crowded! When I’m not writing, I’m running the styrofoam boat races in my neighborhood, knitting snap-on extension panels for leg warmers, and developing a myriad of recipes for boil-in-bag toast. Stay turned for my next book! It’s coming soon!

Seriously – is that the type of impression you want potential customers to get when they read your biography? Are you looking for readers or for a new bff?

Your biography is basically your resume and cover letter built into one. The facts need to be there; they need to be presented with the right amount of friendliness and professionalism. It can be a very tough balance to achieve. So, here are some tips to help you create, update, and/or revamp your author biography.

  • Never use all caps for your name. People recognize the shapes of words as they read – and if you use all capitals, they won’t retain that. It takes seven instances of seeing a brand or a name before a consumer feels a sense of familiarity. (This is called the Marketing Rule of 7.) Take advantage of every one of those instances.
  • We don’t want to hear about your eleventh toe, how your dogs sleep on your bed, or how many times you’ve been married. That information can be shared on your personal website or Facebook page. Tell us a little bit about you and a lot about your writing achievements.
  • Third person. Please. First person just doesn’t give the same effect or level of professionalism.
  • Include how many books you have published and in what genres. If there is a series, just list the series name and the number of books in it. If you have more than five books published, try not to list them all in a row. That makes it look too impersonal.
  • Try to mention any awards, contests, or other accolades in the first sentence. “Award-winning” or “best-selling” are a great way to start things off. If you haven’t managed those, “extremely good-looking” will garner you some attention as well. Kidding.
  • People do find certain details about authors interesting. These things can be a way to build a curiosity or a bond with a potential reader – as long as they have something to do with your writing. If your books are based in the Caribbean – and that’s where you live, by all means mention that. If your occupation spurs your ideas (i.e. you work(ed) as firefighter – and your main character is a murder-solving fire marshall), that gives your character and your writing credence. Or, if your hobby is what drives you (i.e. you’re a vegetarian writing zombie/cannibal books) I can see potential readers finding that of interest. One quick sentence will do the trick.
  • How long you’ve been writing is very important. If you’ve been writing for less than five years, I’d recommend leaving that out, as some people may not take you seriously. Some authors have been writing all their lives, and one would think that saying “has been writing for over thirty years” would carry some weight.
  • NO TYPOS. Yes it says stay turned, not tuned, among other things. If you’re a writer, people expect your spelling, typing, grammar, etc., to be perfect. In a biography or on a resume, it’s not acceptable to be anything less than that.
  • Use a professional-looking photograph of yourself. Do not use a book cover, a puppy, or other photograph that isn’t you. When I read a biography, I want to know about the author. I don’t want to see the author’s house, kitten, or whatever. If you don’t know how to get a good photo of yourself, check out our tutorial here.

You should also have biographies in a number of different lengths. Have one prepared that is 140 characters long (Twitter length); 100 words long; and one at whatever length you’d like. Sometimes magazines or websites will ask for a biography of a specific length. In order to prevent scrambling, having an assortment ready in advance is always good.

This is what I have as my Twitter profile: Award-Winning Suspense Novelist, Children’s Book Author & Photographer. Titles include Lust for Danger, Postcards from Mr. Pish & more. http://www.KSBrooks.com. That’s exactly 140 characters. That will come in handy in lots of places where your profile limits you to twenty words or so.

Here’s my short bio from the IU Staff Bios page: K.S. Brooks is an award-winning novelist and photographer, author of fifteen books, and co-administrator of Indies Unlimited. Brooks’ feature articles, poetry, and photography have appeared in magazines, newspapers, books, and other publications both in the U.S. and abroad. For more about K.S. Brooks, visit her website and her Amazon author page. That’s fifty-one words and just under 300 characters. It contains two live links, however, to pages which host much lengthier biographies.

My Amazon.com Author Central biography is the one that I use as my “template.” I make sure that one is always up-to-date. I always know exactly where it is and it’s incredibly convenient to update. So, if I set up a new profile somewhere with a long biography, I just go to my Author Central page, copy my bio, then paste it wherever, including into emails in response to requests by radio interviewers, reporters, etc. Don’t forget, your Amazon author biography shows up at the bottom of each of your book pages – so it really makes sense to keep that one updated.

If you need help or suggestions, post your questions below.

Author: K.S. Brooks

K.S. Brooks is an award-winning novelist and photographer, author of over 30 titles, and administrator (AKA Fearless Leader) of Indies Unlimited. Brooks’ feature articles, poetry, and photography have appeared in magazines, newspapers, books and other publications both in the U.S. and abroad. For more about K.S. Brooks, visit her website and her Amazon author page

30 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Me: Writing Your Bio”

  1. Good stuff, Kat. I’m constantly amazed at how many authors don’t even have their Author Central page setup. (I’ll bet you’ve done a tutorial on doing that, haven’t you?) I’m not going to mention that I’m included in that list. πŸ™‚

  2. Also, if you use the phrase “my little corner of the web” and it is not your very first web page or an AOL site, you’ve committed a faux pas.

  3. Great info and reminders. You very kindly gave me some gentle hints on how to write a bio when I wrote my first guest article for IU. I learnt a lot, thanks for your help!

  4. After reading this post and digesting its fine advice, I participated in the author central like-fest in a post that followed. Anyone with an author bio needs to pass close attention to the eighth rule above (typos, grammar, punctuation, etc). I visited all the bios listed on the like-fest and found five that have a typo, grammar or hyphenation issue.

    I will not mention anyone by name but if you recognize one of these phrases, give your bio an edit:

    Edgar Allen Poe
    follows close on
    a 130 year old, tiny, brick
    6 inch Aztec
    coast hoping between

    We are among friends here and everyone’s writing needs fresh eyes.

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