One of the major things that many authors don’t think about is what they should say about themselves in their bio. And to be honest, there isn’t anything you shouldn’t include, other than ‘and keeps getting poor reviews’.
First or third person
One of the most important initial questions that you should ask is if you’re writing your bio in first or third person. Most authors write in third person (Since picking up a pen, she… ). It seems to be the recognised way to talk about yourself, and you should open up with a compelling reason for people to read you over anyone else. Once you get awards, you could mention ‘award-winning’ but don’t fall into the trap of describing yourself as ‘bestselling’ unless you actually are – bestselling is now an ‘off’ word on bios, becuase Amazon’s ranking, though really neat, makes it almost meaningless.
A long bio is acceptable for people with an adventurous life IF it relates to the genre you’re writing in, or if you’ve got professional information to share, but otherwise, your bio should be tight and as short as you can possibly trim it to. Many people look at it as fitting on the ‘dust jacket’ of a hardback – that is, about 350 words at most.
Salting your bio with your personality AND signposting keywords
Your bio shouldn’t be stiff, so it can take a bit of practice to write about yourself – there are various sites with advice you can do (this article talks about bios from a freelance writing perspective), but one of the things you do need to keep in mind is that you’ve also got to include information or keywords to entice the reader into trusting you.
Keywords are basically the basic things that you write about. Romance writers have keywords like love, relationship, support. Mental health writers talk about professionals, advocacy, (diagnosis). Sci-fi writers talk about the genre they’re writing in and what sort of sci-fi it is, with the matching keywords. Keywords are basically the area that makes sure your potential customers are getting what they’re getting.
Is your bio the same as your byline?
Many sites for authors accept a byline (though they sometimes call it the author bio) for articles, and in some ways, yes it is – but your author bio for websites should be tailored to your needs and what the article was about – so you should maybe modify your bio to mention a direct link to the topic in your article.
For example: I write as a freelance writer. During those times, I reference my writer’s website. When I write about mental health, I change my bio, and mention my bi-polarbears site. I also change a couple of keywords in my bio.
What about my ‘about’?
Your author bio can be the basis for your ‘about’ page on your site, and can also be used in your media pack, but you can loosen up on the length a bit and let your personality out. Your about can contain a bit more about your life too, while your author bio might not.
Ultimately though, the best place to look is on sites with author bios and decide which you like, then try to emulate them – just with your own unique style.
What do you think? Any great resources for bio writing that you know of? Got any tips?