Writing an author bio isn’t something that most writers think about before they finish their first book. But as soon as the publishing and promoting starts, it becomes instantly clear that your bio needs to be anywhere your book exists.
From your author page on retailers like Amazon, to your social media profiles like Facebook, your bio gets plenty of use.
Why writing a great author bio matters
Like we said above, your author bio accompanies your book across the web (and print). Your bio may not be the primary reason that someone buys your book, but it could be the thing to tip them over the edge when deciding whether to buy or not.
For fiction writers, your author bio is an opportunity to establish a connection or build goodwill with readers before they buy your book. Including simple facts like where you live or some of your interests could pique some readers’ curiosity. Listing awards, number of books published or some sort of expertise (ex: former attorney writing legal drama) can help establish credibility and give the reader confidence in the quality of your book.
For novelists, a bio will rarely be the main reason someone buys your book. But for those readers who aren’t sure if they want to buy, an author biography with the right sort of information can help them make a decision.
For Nonfiction Writers
A well-written bio can absolutely be a primary marketing asset for non-fiction writers. With non-fiction, you are often selling your experience and knowledge, so establishing credibility with readers is critical.
Writing a book about how to flip houses is a great, but if readers don’t know that you have years of experience and have flipped many houses, they simply won’t think your book is a reliable source of information.
How to write an author bio
Writing about yourself is not always the most exciting prospect, but unfortunately there’s no way around it when writing your bio. If you are hesitant to list accomplishments or include any personal details in your bio, we suggest you read the bios of some of your favorite authors to get more comfortable with the idea.
There are no strict rules when it comes to writing a bio, but by including the elements below, you can be sure to cover the bases that most readers expect.
If you think one of our suggestions doesn’t work for you, try incorporating that information into a different part of your bio, or simply go with what you think will speak to your readers the most.
Think from a reader’s perspective
Your bio will mostly be read by readers, so think like a reader when you’re deciding what to include. What sort of information excites you when reading another author’s bio? What bores you?
What are the reasons you would read an author’s bio?
By keeping your readers top of mind when writing your bio, you are more likely to write a bio that attracts readers and piques their interest.
Start with a standalone one liner
Start your bio with a sentence that encapsulates you in a nutshell. For example:
“Mary Smith is an avid adventurer and author of the Wright Circle Series.”
“USA Today Bestselling author Frank Jones is a former U.S. Marine and author of the new novel “Excellent Book Name.”
By starting your bio with a sentence that can stand apart from the rest of it, you are giving readers instant information. If you can include an interesting tidbit in this first sentence, a reader can be prompted to buy your book, or continue reading your bio.
Another bonus of starting your bio with a one liner is that you can simply drop this line into spots where your entire bio may not fit. Less future bio writing for you!
Establish your genre or theme
Include a line or two about what you write about. What genre or theme do most of your books cover? For example:
“After a childhood spent devouring Tolkien and dreaming up magical worlds, Smith has put their imagination on the page.”
By making your primary genre or theme clear in your bio, you are giving readers more information about what to expect from your work. If you write in multiple genres, make sure to include them all, or leave this information out. You don’t want to confuse readers.
Most authors won’t sell books on their name alone. So if your name isn’t James Patterson, it pays off to help readers understand why your book has the quality they are looking for.
Include any awards, degrees, or relevant job titles in your author bio. These tidbits can help convince readers to buy your book, even if they don’t know your name.
Establishing credibility can happen anywhere in your bio. You can mention a degree or certificate, that your day job allows you to write fiction with a high degree of realism, that you earned a bestseller badge or that your book was well reviewed.
If a fact about you or your books could help a reader be more confident in their purchase, include it in your bio.
Include some personality
Whether it’s some wordplay, a fun fact about you, or some quirky inspiration for your work, including some personality in your author bio is great way to connect with readers.
If a reader likes your book and finds they have something in common with you, they may be more likely to buy more of your work or share with their friends.
Include your website, social media or other books
Make it easy for readers to know where to find you. If someone is reading your bio on a book retailer, they may want to know even more about you. Make it easy for them and include a link to your website or a suggestion to follow you on social media.
Additionally, by letting readers know if you’ve written other books or mentioning a series in your bio, you can drive sales of your other work.
Keep the right format
Write your bio in third person. Yes, this can feel awkward but it is the standard. Granted, there are exceptions, but a bio written in first-person can come off as amateurish.
Keep it shorter than 150 words. Different places for your bio will have different length requirements, but by keeping your bio under 150 words, you are making sure that it will fit without editing in most placements, and it will be short enough that readers can easily read the whole thing.
Longer bios can make it harder for readers to find specific info. Some readers may read your bio to see if you’ve written any other books, to see how they can follow your on social media, or if you have a website. By keeping your bio short, you help readers easily find the information they want.
Examples of author bios
Here are a few examples of author bios for inspiration, note how these authors have incorporated many of the elements we discussed earlier. Many establish credibility by listing awards or accomplishments, include mentions of any other work, and include links to websites.
New York Times, USA Today, #1 Amazon Bestseller, and #1 Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, Susan Stoker has a heart as big as the state of Tennessee where she lives, but this all American girl has also spent the last eighteen years living in Missouri, California, Colorado, Indiana, and Texas. She’s married to a retired Army man (and current firefighter/EMT) who now gets to follow her around the country.
She debuted her first series in 2014 and quickly followed that up with the SEAL of Protection Series, which solidified her love of writing and creating stories readers can get lost in.
Connect with her at www.StokerAces.com
Kim is the number one bestselling author of fifteen psychological crime thrillers. She has sold over two million copies of her books worldwide. She has also written four Carnegie-nominated Young Adult novels as Kim Slater for Macmillan Children’s Books. Kim has an MA in Creative Writing and lives with her husband in Nottingham, England.
Order of publication:
SAFE WITH ME (2016)
THE MISTAKE (2017)
THE VISITOR (2018)
THE SECRET (2018)
FINDING GRACE (2019)
THE SILENT ONES (2019)
THE APARTMENT – AUDIBLE ORIGINAL only (2019) August
THE APARTMENT – eBook & paperback formats available (2020) April
LITTLE WHISPERS (2020)
THE GIRL SHE WANTED (2020)
THE EVIDENCE – AUDIBLE ORIGINAL only (2021) February
THE EVIDENCE – eBook & paperback formats available (2021) July
THE MARRIAGE (2021) May
Publishers: Bookouture, Grand Central, Sphere, Audible
Agent: Camilla Bolton at Darley Anderson
Author website: www.KLSlaterAuthor.com
Facebook: KL Slater Author
Mia Sosa is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance. Her books have received praise and recognition from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Booklist, Library Journal, The Washington Post, Book Riot, Bustle, Cosmopolitan, BuzzFeed, and more.
A former First Amendment and media lawyer, Mia practiced for more than a decade before trading her suits for loungewear (okay, okay, they’re sweatpants). Now she strives to write fun and flirty stories about imperfect characters finding their perfect match.
Mia lives in Maryland with her husband, their two daughters, and an adorable dog that rules them all.
Learn more about Mia and her books at www.miasosa.com, Twitter (@miasosaromance), or Instagram (@miasosaromance).
Update your bio as you publish more
As you continue in your author career it’s important to keep your bios up to date. As you publish more books or gain any achievements, be sure to add them to your bio and update it across retailers. You might also realize that your readers mostly engage with you on a specific social platform, so you might decide to change your bio to only include a link to that specific platform. As your career evolves, so will your bio.
6 comments on “How to Write an Author Bio That Sells”
It should be ‘piqued some readers’ curiosity, not peaked!
Even well seasoned authors should update.. Great advice, thanks
PIQUE! not peak.
Honestly, a blog about writing should be well-written.
Thanks for the catch Fay. I’ve fixed it.
That was a very interesting article and I am glad I read it all. I actually learned a good deal about writing my bio and shall go back and take another look at it now.
Maybe it’s just me, but I found their string of accolades and their list of books and other achievements boring. My eyes glazed over, trying to read the first sentence of every single one of these author bios. So I stopped reading them. And I decided I wouldn’t like the books either. Give me something with personality. Check out Tahereh Mafi’s bio in her first book Shatter Me. It actually has personality.