“[Your Name Here] did more to change the style of English prose than any other writer in the twentieth century….”
Okay, you’re not Ernest Hemingway. Yet, as a nonfiction author, your bio is essential to connecting with your readership.
Whether it appears on the back cover of your book, your website’s “About” page, or Amazon Author Central, your author bio establishes you as the person uniquely qualified to write your book. It can reveal a glimpse of you as a person—and may even spark a beautiful relationship with your audience, the press, and the influencers you most want to endorse your masterwork.
Marc Miller, who wrote Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers, says of his author bio, “It shows that I’ve walked the talk. I’ve made so many career transitions myself. It shows I have compassion.”
Cleverly, Miller included a short bio on his book cover and a more fleshed-out version in an “About the Author” page inside.
What goes into your author bio? It depends. If your book is a how-to or thought leadership piece, you’ll want your bio to establish your credentials and expertise. If it’s a memoir, your bio will tell why you are worth reading about.
Regardless of its primary goal, though, your bio should include these essentials:
- Brief description of your work or life experiences that qualify you to write this book
- Previously published books
- Related awards
- Publications that feature your work
- Website/blog URL
- Professionally shot photo
- Your locale
Literary publicist Stephanie Barko suggests that you keep your bio’s word count low but use other cues to underpin your message. Match the tone of the bio to your personality and your book. Are you a humorous, fun-loving person writing about a light-hearted topic? A breezy bio carries the day. Even your head shot can speak volumes about you. Barko uses a series of animated poses that illustrate her lively, dynamic manner of expression.
Many accomplished writers are stumped when faced with writing their own bios. Barko says, “If you’re really scratching your head, have someone else write your bio.”
Miller concurs, commenting, “Most people are lousy at seeing themselves as others see them. They’re lousy at bragging about themselves, too! Construct a base outline, and hand it over to someone who knows you and writes well. By listening to you, this person can pick up themes and stories you’d never get to on your own.”
Barko observes that readership comes from increasingly varied sources. Help those readers find you by sharing a little bit of who you are through your author bio.
A longtime professional writer with a knack for storytelling, Julie Wickert has been communicating complex concepts to humans for more than 18 years. Julie started her writing career as a stand-up, face-to-face trainer (teaching technical drawing at a community college), so she is exceptionally sensitive to focusing on “what’s in it for me” for a given audience. She has written everything from the story of a family heirloom and its protective power on the battle fronts of four generations, to product briefs about industrial washing machines. A hometown Austin girl, Julie enjoys volunteering for several nonprofits around town (one of which is building an orphanage in Nicaragua), and hanging out with the dogs and men of her household. Visit her at TrueStoryCommuncation.com.