As an author, there will be many situations where you will need to contribute your bio for promotional purposes. Your bio is often needed on your website in the “About” page and the “Media/Press” page, the back cover of your book, the last page of your book, at the end of articles or blog posts that you write, in your social media profiles, and in the agenda when you’re a speaker. Because of this, most authors can benefit from writing several bios in various lengths.
I personally keep a document on my desktop with various iterations of my bio, including versions at 50 words, 100 words, 200 words, and 500 words. Details are updated periodically when a new book is released or as life changes. I’ve used this document countless times over the years and strongly recommend that all authors create a similar document.
How to Write Your Bio
Bios are typically written in the third person, as if someone else is describing what you do. In professional settings it is rare to see a bio written using phrases like “I did this, I wrote that book,” etc. The most common time the use of “I” might be appropriate is on your website if you want it to feel a bit more personalized and casual. In most other professional scenarios, it’s best to stick with third person narrative. Keep in mind that media professionals and people who book you to speak or be a guest on a webinar, will often copy and paste your bio from your website.
Your bio should include the most relevant details pertaining to your subject matter or expertise which can include:
- The title of your book
- Your area of expertise
- Any major media coverage you’ve received
- Publications that you write for
- Relevant business experience (if you offer related business services or you’re a speaker)
- A link to your website
Examples of Effective Author Bios:
Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a leading authority on global business trends including ‘big data’, self-employment and the social media revolution. He’s the author of the award-winning book, Marketing Shortcuts for the Self-Employed (2011, Wiley) and a regular speaker for Bloomberg TV. Patrick has spoken about global mega trends, big data and the social media revolution at conferences and business events around the world.
Publicity expert Joan Stewart works with business owners, nonprofits and organizations that need to use free publicity in traditional and social media to establish their credibility, enhance their reputation, position themselves as experts, sell more products and services, and promote a favorite cause or issue.
(Note: Joan Stewart gives a great example on her site of how to list bios with multiple lengths, which makes it easy for media or event planners to collect information about you: http://publicityhound.com/about.)
Stephanie Chandler is the author of several books including Own Your Niche: Hype-Free Internet Marketing Tactics to Establish Authority in Your Field and Promote Your Service-Based Business and The Nonfiction Book Marketing Plan: Online and Offline Promotion Strategies to Build Your Audience and Sell More Books. Stephanie is also CEO of http://AuthorityPublishing.com, specializing in custom book publishing and social media marketing services, and http://NonfictionAuthorsAssociation.com, a community for authors to learn and connect. A frequent speaker at business events and on the radio, she has been featured in Entrepreneur, BusinessWeek, and Wired magazine, and she is a blogger for Forbes.
Denise O’Berry uses compelling first person narrative on her website:
Dana Manciagli captures many important career highlights in her bio:
Norm Schriever weaves humor into his bio as the author of several travel memoirs:
Joanna Penn shares her author journey in her website bio:
It can be difficult to write your bio and toot your own horn, but it’s an essential part of your marketing collateral. If you need help, ask others to review your work and give you feedback, or hire a great copywriter to help you get a foundation. I also recommend sharing your bio in multiple lengths on your website, either in your “About” page or on your “Media/Press” page.