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The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Writing an Author Bio

I don’t think I’ve ever met a writer who enjoys writing an author bio.

Some of them feel like it’s bragging or that they don’t have enough accomplishments to make them worthy of having a bio. Others just don’t know how to do it.

Yet, it’s pretty much impossible to get away from. Most literary journals you might want to submit to require it. Want to promote your writing online? You have to do it. And of course, if you want to publish with a book—and be honest, who doesn’t want that?—you kind of need to tell people who you are.

So, let’s make this simple, shall we? Here’s a cheat sheet for writing your bio so you can quit being anxious about it and start learning to sell your work.

Writing in the Right Tone or Style

The voice of your author bio you use can make a big difference in how readers perceive you. It's important to strike the right balance between professionalism and personality. You want to showcase your writing skills and credentials, but also give readers a glimpse into your unique voice and style.

One tip is to think about who your target audience is and tailor your tone to resonate with them. If you write young adult fiction or kids’ books, for example, your bio might have a more casual and conversational tone. On the other hand, if you write literary fiction, biographies, or scholarly material, a more formal tone might be appropriate.

Ultimately, the goal is to find a tone and style that authentically represents you as an author and connects with your readers.

Use Third Person Point of View

Using the third-person point of view in your author bio is a widely accepted convention. By referring to yourself in the third person, you create a sense of professionalism and distance between you as the author and the content of your bio. This helps to establish credibility and allows readers to focus on your achievements and work rather than on you as an individual.

When writing in the third person, it's important to maintain consistency throughout your bio. This means using your full name instead of "I" or "me," and referring to yourself by your last name or pronouns. For example, instead of saying, "I have published several books," you would say, "Jane Smith has published several books." It’s easy to jump back and forth, so make sure to proofread your bio when you’re done to ensure that the point of view is consistent.

Using the third person also allows for a more objective tone, which can be beneficial when highlighting your accomplishments and credentials. It helps to create a sense of authority and professionalism, giving readers confidence in your abilities as a writer. By adopting the third-person perspective in your author bio, you can present yourself as a respected and established authority, ready to captivate and engage your readers with your unique storytelling abilities and insightful information.

Be Specific with Your Achievements

It's important to highlight your most notable achievements in your author bio. Instead of simply stating that you have published books, delve into the specifics.

How many books have you published? Have any of them won awards or been bestsellers? Mention any literary accolades or recognitions you have received, such as being a finalist for a prestigious writing competition or being featured in renowned publications.

Additionally, include any significant milestones or experiences that are relevant to your writing career. For example, if you have given TED Talks or have been invited to speak at conferences or book festivals, make sure to mention it. Being specific with your accomplishments not only demonstrates your credibility as an author but also shows potential readers that you are a reputable and respected figure in the writing world.

Similarly, avoid using any vague language. Please, please, PLEASE don’t say that you are a “passionate reader/writer” or “loves words.” That kind of language might fly on a personal ad, but you are looking for readers, not a hot date.

But What If I Don’t Have Any Accomplishments?

If you find yourself thinking, "But what if I don't have any accomplishments to showcase in my author bio,” don't worry—you're not alone. Many writers who are just starting out struggle with this. But here's the thing: everyone starts somewhere. Just because you haven't won any awards or published a bestseller yet doesn't mean you can’t share other details that will draw readers’ interest and trust.

Instead of focusing solely on external achievements, think about what sets you apart as a writer. Maybe you have a unique perspective or a fresh storytelling style. Perhaps you've overcome personal challenges that have shaped your writing. Or maybe you have a compelling backstory that gives readers insight into why you write what you do.

You can easily do this by thinking about the content of your writing. One thing I usually include in my bio for promotional events for The Goodbye-Love Generation is that I’m the daughter of a musician who was active in the Kent, Ohio music scene as well as a relative of a survivor of the Kent State shootings.

My book focuses on events that happened more than a decade before I was born, and many readers might look at my author photo and wonder why someone my age has the authority to write about the events that took place in Kent in the ‘70s. By sharing my connection to the events that inspired my book, readers immediately know that the Kent State shootings or the music scene aren’t a passing interest for me, but a serious part of what has shaped my work.

Also, you can mention your goals and aspirations in your author bio. Let readers know what you hope to achieve in your writing career or what you're currently working on. By showcasing your determination and passion for writing, you'll be able to engage readers and pique their curiosity about your work.

Remember, your author bio is a chance to connect with your readers on a personal level. Focus on your unique perspective and your dedication to improving as a writer.

Don’t Forget to Keep Your Author Bio Updated

Okay, so this is a really weak area for me. I’m terrible at keeping anything updated, and that includes my author bio as well as my resume. But reviewing your bio allows you to reflect on your recent accomplishments and add any new projects or achievements. By keeping your bio up to date, you show readers that you're an active and engaged author. Additionally, as you grow and evolve as a writer, your bio should reflect these changes.

Take the time to assess if your bio still accurately represents your unique voice and style. Remember, your author bio is your personal branding tool, so don't be afraid to adjust the content and keep it fresh. By regularly reviewing and updating your author bio, you'll continue to captivate and engage your audience for years to come.

Need Some More Author Bio Help?

Questions like these are exactly why I provide no-cost 30-minute Zoom consultations to any writer who needs a little help.

Schedule some time with me to talk about your writing, get some advice, and take advantage of the opportunity to connect with a professional writer for free.

Plus, I’ll give you a thank-you gift!

Here’s a link to my calendar. Find a time that works for you and let’s connect soon!

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