I cringe when I see an author bio like this on the back of a self published book.
Sue Brown was born in Des Moines, Iowa and went to high school at North Valley High. She went to college at Colorado State University, majoring in English. She got married right after college and now has 2 daughters. This is her first novel.
This, unfortunately, is a typical bio for a first time author. A bad author bio on the back of your book can hurt your sales. Why? An author bio isn’t really about the author. It’s part of your book’s sales pitch. The purpose is to give a prospective reader a reason to check out the book because of the author’s passion and expertise on the topic.
A boring bio like Sue’s doesn’t give the reader a single reason to check out her novel. It doesn’t answer critical questions like why did Sue become a writer? What is she passionate about that inspired her to write this novel?
5 Ways to Avoid the Amateur Author Bio
1. Start Your Story With Your Book.
Nobody cares where you were born or where you went to high school. Unless you were born to famous parents or went to high school on Mars, start your author bio at the point where you decided to write your book. Even though the bio is about you, it’s really about why the reader should be interested in you. Center your opening sentences on why you wrote your book and why should a reader care.
2. Establish your expertise on the topic. Why should anybody choose your book over another one in your genre?
Even if you don’t have a PhD on your topic, you must have some sort of expertise you can use to establish that you know what you’re writing about. Have you been obsessed with your topic since you were a child? Did you start a fan club around it? Did you discover your passion in college and built on your knowledge ever since?
3. Make your bio short, but not boring
Try to keep your bio succinct, but include enough detail to keep it interesting. Show it to friends and family and get their input – they may point out interesting details you’ve forgotten! After you’ve finished your bio, edit, put it aside for a day and edit again. Create 2 versions – a short bio (50 words) and a longer version – (150-200 words) You’ll use both in your marketing and outreach efforts.
4. A little humor is a good thing (if appropriate.)
You can put a little humor in your bio if you think it’s appropriate. It would definitely keep you from being boring! Here’s 2 examples of authors who got creative with their bios:
“Eric Carle invented writing, the airplane, and the internet. He was also the first person to reach the North Pole. He has flown to Mars and back in one day, and was enthusiastically greeted by the Martians. “Very strange beings,” he reported on his return. He has written one thousand highly regarded books; a team of experts is presently attempting to grasp their meaning. “It might take a century,” said the chief expert. Carle is also a great teller of stories — but not all of them are true, for instance those in this book.” from <http://ew.com/article/2015/09/14/funny-author-bios-mindy-kaling/>
R Raphael is a writer as well as a mammal. He’s the guy behind the acclaimed Android Intelligence column at Computerworld. He writes humor-infused feature stories for a variety of publications and drinks fruit-infused beverages from a variety of glasses. At night, he sleeps. For more about JR and easy access to all of his stories, head over to his official writing site at JRStart.com. And be sure to come say hi on Twitter or Google+! from <http://www.computerworld.com/author/jr-raphael/>
If you’re not sure about using humor in your bio, get feedback from friends, family and especially your editor. You’ll also be using this bio on your website, social media, and in your marketing materials, so it needs to hit the right note.
5. Borrow ideas from other authors
Need more inspiration? Go to your own bookshelves and start looking at author bios on books you own. Which ones are the most memorable? Which ones could use some work. Write down phrases you could borrow for your own bio.
Wondering how to write a great description of your book? Check out this post: