I know that sometimes when you sit down to do something that should be simple, like write your own paragraph-long author bio, you just get blocked and stare at the blinking cursor and wish for death. But you’re a writer. Suck it up and write your damn bio. You’ll need it for your website, any press you get, your book covers (eventually), and your query letters. Here’s how to do it:
1. Write your bio in the same tone that you write your books.
If your books are a little humorous, your bio should be a little humorous. If your books are about familial relationships, it’s probably best to highlight your family. If you write dog training books, you’d probably better mention your dogs.
2. Keep it short.
Remember, no one cares as much about you as you do, so don’t put them through the agony of reading a page-long description of your quirks and history from age 2.
3. Make it interesting.
Your readers want to be able to connect with you on some level, so make it easier for them to do that. Think about the questions people most often ask you: What do you do? Where do you live? What are your hobbies? Do you have any kids? If you have some weird fact to share that also relates to what you write, score one for you. Use it.
4. Write it in third person.
This is true for almost everything. The major exception is, of course, query letters. Those need to be in first person because, uh, they’re letters, duh.
5. Put your name at the very front.
I tried, but I cannot think of any other item that must be in every author bio besides your name, and it should be the very first thing people read. “Jane Doe has been a writer since the tender age of blah blah blah…”
If you’re still drawing a blank, here’s some other stuff that you could include in your bio, but certainly don’t have to. Oh, and don’t include all of them. I will personally hunt you down if you use all of them in one bio. It’s just unnecessary and no one wants to read it.
- Where you live
- Who you live with
- What you write (If this is for a book cover flap, what you write besides what the reader is holding in her hand.)
- Your hobbies/how you spend your non-writing time
- What got you into writing in the first place
- Any REALLY BIG credentials– I’m talking New York Times Bestseller here, not Mom’s Yearly Poetry Contest winner.
- Your educational credentials only if they relate to what you write (If you have a PhD in coniferous fungal varieties, I don’t really want to know, unless that’s what your book is about.)
- Any causes dear to your heart or volunteer work you do (even better if it relates to your subject matter, but doesn’t have to)
Don’t forget to go around and read the bios on some of your favorite authors’ websites and get some ideas for what you’d like to do with yours. Remember, this writing stuff is fun, so enjoy it!