How to Write an Author Bio That Gets You Noticed

Celeste Davidson
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"The world will ask you who you are, and if you do not know, the world will tell you."
— Carl Jung

Who are you? To millions of readers, you’re a perfect stranger. Truth be told, your identity is a big blank space.
That is, until they read your author bio.
Last week, we discussed the importance of an author website. Today I'll show you how to write a principal feature of your site: your bio.
When someone clicks on your website, your bio is typically the first things they'll read. It's a chance for readers to get to know you and an opportunity to spark interest in your work. But your bio is much more. It can help put you on the radar of agents, editors and journalists, as well.
In addition to your website, a version of your author bio can appear in a range of places, such as:
  • Your social media pages
  • A query letter
  • Alongside any work you have published (e.g., in a magazine)
  • Your retail author pages (e.g., on Amazon and Barnes & Noble)
  • The back cover of your book(s)
And did I mention that we feature the bio of every writer published in our anthologies?!
As you can see, your author bio is an essential part of your professional tool kit. Every writer needs one. More than that, they need an engaging one that will make them stand out.
Follow these guidelines and you’ll have an effective author bio ready to go when we launch our new author website in the coming weeks.

1. Keep it short and sweet—but not too short.
Concision is your friend. The sweet spot for an author bio is between one hundred and two hundred words, a paragraph or a few paragraphs. This is what readers expect.
If your bio rambles, your reader will think your work is just as meandering and long-winded. On the flip side, if your bio is too brief, it can leave your reader feeling cheated - as if they don’t know you any better than they did before.
2. Write in third person.
While your bio is all about you, there shouldn’t be any “me, myself or I.” Third person is the standard for a professional author bio. A bio written in first person is a red flag that you haven’t done your research (and that you probably put the same low amount of effort into your work).
3. Build your credibility.
Are you writing a novel about raising a child with autism, and you’re the parent of an autistic child yourself? Or maybe your book is set in New Orleans, where you’ve lived all your life. These facts demonstrate that your writing is grounded in real experience. They give you a sense of authority on the subject matter you’ve chosen to explore in your work.
You can also establish your credibility by sharing professional experience, education, training, etc. Going back to the first example above, maybe you’ve worked at an autism advocacy organization. Or, more broadly speaking, maybe you have a degree in creative writing, or you even run a popular bookstagram (an Instagram page about books). If it helps build credibility, it’s worth including.
4. Highlight any awards and publications.
If you haven’t been published or won any awards yet, don’t worry: your bio can still be effective. For those who have, you would be remiss not to mention them. It may feel like bragging, but get over it! You’ve earned the right to feature your accomplishments in your bio, and they will help establish your credibility. One caveat: if you’ve received a lot of accolades, select the most salient and applicable ones to feature. Rattling off a long list might make you sound far from humble.
5. Talk about what you’re currently working on.
Many unpublished writers feel stressed by the prospect of having to write an author bio. I can assure you, a lack of published work does not mean you can’t write an excellent author bio. Use your bio to discuss work in progress, and drum up excitement about it. Include the title of your work and a brief description—think of it as a teaser. You can also talk about favorite themes in your writing.
6. Share some personal details from your background.
Your reader doesn’t just want to get to know you as a writer—they want to get to know you as a person. Maybe you’re from the same town, cheer for the same basketball team, or share an interest in cockatoos. These connections can make them feel a kinship with you and want to read your work. Many authors share where they are from and/or currently living, as well as the family they live with. You could share a hobby or two.
Be selective about which personal details you share. Going overboard on your personal life can put readers off and some—this isn’t a personal social media page, or a dating app! I would also advise against providing the names or photographs of the children in your life, for obvious reasons.
7. Let your personality shine.
Your author bio should be professional, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Let your personality shine through, and have fun with it. For example, if your writing tends to be lighthearted, feel free to include a humorous phrase or two, most commonly, towards the end. This will make your bio more engaging and unique, and you more memorable.

Your author website is made up of multiple parts, with your bio being one of the most important ones. By preparing it now, you’ll be all set to post it on your website as soon we launch our new website builder.
Want to make sure your bio is up to snuff? Send it to me and I’ll tell you what I think. Keep it pithy, please!

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