One the most stressful parts about starting out as a writer was writing my author biography. Making up worlds and characters somehow seemed much simpler than having to talk about ME. I’m not all that interesting, that’s why I make interesting people up! As someone who runs a review blog, I know the importance of a great author bio. Here are a few tips that I’ve picked up along the way as both an author and blogger that I think help make for a kick butt author bio.
1. Give yourself time.
Seriously. Don’t try to do this in a night. Rough draft that thing and let it simmer.
2. Keep it short.
Oh dear God, please keep it short. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve “rewritten” or “selected from” an author’s bio because I asked for a “brief biography” and got two pages. If you have to click the “read more” tab on your Amazon author page, your bio is way too long. If you’re bio is more than three paragraphs, it’s too long. If you need to have a longer version for some purpose…fine, but make sure you have your short version too.
3. Tell me what you do and what makes you unique…and not much more.
I need to know what makes you “you,” but I probably don’t need to know everything about your life.
4. LINK ME!
PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING PURE AND HOLY INCLUDE LINKS TO YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE, especially if you’re using this as a bio for a guest post, etc. If you blog at 12 different places, I don’t need a link to all of them, but pick a few main hubs (example: your site, your Facebook, your Twitter) to include in the bio that goes out to people. You can always include more links at the bottom of your bio on your page.
5. Don’t be afraid of having more than one version.
Start with a basic bio that works for everything and have extra stuff you can add/remove if needed to suit your audience. I blog at a baseball site…that’s not something I really mention here, but it’s important to me, so I have it at the bottom of my main bio on my website. I send out a version without that info for most things. I also run an Austen website, that’s important if I’m guest posting about my Austen related novel, not so much if I’m talking about YA fantasy.
I know it’s super scary to even start. It’s frightening to sit and stare at the blank page and think, “Oh my gosh, I need to sound clever and interesting…” but take a deep breath. Your bio needs to reflect you! You with a lot of editing, but you. So if you’re naturally quirky, let your bio be quirky. If you’re not…don’t try to be quirky! It doesn’t have to be funny…it doesn’t have to be elegant…it doesn’t have to be super serious sounding…unless you want it to be and that reflects you!
Here, as an example, is my bio. I fully admit to being a goofball and my bio reflects that. I also write a lot of young adult so it’s less serious sounding…I don’t include things like where I got my degree because young adult audiences could care less. Obviously, if you’re writing for a more literary crowd you can include that kind of stuff.
Jessica Grey is an author, fairytale believer, baseball lover, and recovering Star Wars fangirl. A life-long Californian, she now lives in Montana with her husband and two children, where she spends her time writing, perfecting the fine art of preschooler-wrangling, and drinking way too much caffeine.
That’s it. That is my basic bio. It was a pain in the booty to write. I shopped it around to 3 or 4 author friends and rewrote it several times. Why did I pick these things to highlight about myself? I figured if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook about 80% of my tweets will be about caffeine, writing, fairy tales, baseball, and geeky sci-fi. The other 20% is complaining about Mondays (not bio worthy) and cute pics of my kids (bio worthy). I set almost all of my books in Los Angeles, so my “claim” to Southern California was important to me.
In fact, that’s a good place to start when you’re thinking of what to write in your bio – what are you tweeting about? What do people associate with you?
At the end of this bio paragraph is where I include my “you can find Jessica on her site, Twitter, and Facebook” with links, unless I’m writing for a specific audience like I mentioned before. Then I can select one of my special tag paragraphs. Here are two examples:
An avid Janeite, Jessica co-owns the website IndieJane.org which is a community for writers and readers of independently published Austenesque fiction.
You can also find Jessica at AngelsWin.com where she writes about the best team in baseball – the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Notice, even if I include everything here (which I do on my website) the entire thing is three short paragraphs. Keep it short! Keep it simple! Think of it as the elevator pitch for YOU. Just like you should have one for each of your books, you should have one for your author persona. Tell me who you are, what you do, what makes you unique and then GET OUT OF THE ELEVATOR.
So what’s in your author bio? When was the last time you looked at it? Have you considered redoing it? Tell me all about you in the comments!