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Indie Publishing: Your Author Bio

In the vast realm of publishing, where your words are your brand, your author bio is your offer of friendship. It's the window through which readers glimpse the person behind the prose, the storyteller behind the story.

Self-Publishing: Your Author Bio

Why does a well-crafted author bio matter? you ask. It’s often overlooked when purchasing a book, right? A compelling author bio does much more than introduce you, particularly for non-fiction authors. It invites readers into your world. It provides context, trust, and curiosity. 

But it doesn't stop there. An author bio isn't just a jacket-flap blurb; it's a versatile tool used in multiple facets of your writing career. Let's explore the key places where your bio takes center stage:


Back Covers: Your author bio often graces the back cover or inside flap of your book, enticing potential readers to pick it up.

Author Websites: Your website's "About" or "Bio" page is where readers go to learn more about the person behind the books.

Social Media Profiles: Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram often feature author bios, providing a concise introduction for potential followers.

Query Letters: If you choose traditional publishing, a well-crafted bio can make your agent query stand out.

Guest Blogging: If you contribute to blogs or guest star on podcasts in your niche, a compelling bio can drive traffic back to your own work.

Bookstore Events: For in-person readings or book signings, a brief bio introduces you to the audience.



AUDIENCE

Consider your audience when crafting your author bio(s). Is it a potential reader? Your fans? An editor? A narrator? Followers on social media?

For non-fiction authors, your ideal reader likely seeks credentials, life experiences, and qualifications that establish your expertise on a specific subject.

Fiction writers should aim to convey a distinctive and engaging personality through their bio, occasionally incorporating relevant credentials like an earned MFA in Creative Writing.



BIO LENGTHS

It's essential to tailor your bio for different purposes and platforms. One size doesn't fit all circumstances. I highly recommend that you start with the medium-length format and beef it up and hone it down to a fine point.


Long Bio: (200-300 words) Useful for speaking engagements and author interviews.

Medium Bio: (50-200 words) Suited for author websites, query letters, and book jacket flaps.

Short Bio: (25-50 words) Ideal for social media profiles, guest blog posts, and brief introductions.

One Liner/Tagline: (10-25 words) For reaching out to podcasters and beta readers.

Three Words: (3 words) Perfect for the top of your author home page.



SECTIONS & EXAMPLES

Try writing a sentence or two for each of the following major points that you want to cover. Less is often more.


Byline: Start with a sentence that states who you are and the title of your current or latest publication. For example,

“J.F. Lawrence is the Sci-Fi author of the new novel ENDED.”


Theme: Are you a fiction or nonfiction writer? Have you published more than one novel? What’s your area of interest or expertise?

“He spent two decades in science and tech, absorbing a feel for the future to come. His recent novels in dystopian, space opera, and apocalyptic sub-genres have a common theme of humor and grit.”


Credentials: Use experience that relates to the content of your book. Qualifications can include writing courses, college degrees, awards, jobs, bestseller lists, accolades, and/or a lifetime of interest.

“Lawrence taught at Stanford and founded startups before combining his passion for creativity and forward-thinking mindset to fiction.”


Personal Touch: Injecting personality into your author bio allows readers to visualize your identity. If they can connect with you, it could provide that extra incentive to consider digging deeper. Consider touching on location, lifestyle, and personality. Maybe something like,

“He loves living in beautiful Boulder, Colorado, where he writes as a coping mechanism for handling chronic illness, bringing humor to dark situations.”



HELPFUL HINTS

What we’re going for is authenticity and clarity first and foremost. Insincerity and confused messaging can turn off your readers or an agent or blog host faster than a sneeze can hit the wall. 


Third-Person: In most cases, third-person is preferable to first-person (back cover, guest appearances, signings). Sometimes, you need to create a more personal connection or maintain an ongoing first-person narrative, but only then.

Revise: You won’t write it well the first time. Add what you need to make the longer version with no more than 300 words, then cut it back down to 200 words. Remove extraneous words and points until you get there. Keep adding and subtracting and it will improve with each iteration. Take breaks between edits to come back to it with a fresh perspective. 

Up and Down: Once you have a medium-format version, add or slice off words until you expound to 200 words and whittle down to 60, then 20, and finally, 3. This is really hard, so be patient with yourself.

Seek Feedback: Ask fellow authors or writing peers for feedback on your bio. Almost universally, humans find it easier to write about other people than about themselves. Consider exchanging bios with another author at the same stage, so they can edit yours without any of the insecure or protective feelings that might weaken your message.

Stay Up to Date: Regularly update your bio to reflect new accomplishments and experiences.



AN EXAMPLE

Medium Bio (89 words)

"Jane Doe is a novelist with a passion for weaving romantic tales that explore the depths of human nature. With over a decade as a family therapist, Doe's unique perspective adds an impeccable display of emotional range and richness of conflict to her debut novel, Time’s A Turning. When she's not crafting gripping narratives, you can find her indulging in travel, immersing herself in different cultures, and gathering inspiration for her next literary adventure. She currently resides in Upstate New York with her two mischievous cats, Star and Buck."


Critique:

  • Same as above.

  • The opening line is clear and establishes who she is, capturing the reader's attention. 

  • She establishes her relationship expertise, which she brings to her writing.

  • It covers her storytelling style; emotional range, richness of conflict, gripping narratives

  • While her love of travel and cats make her more relatable, there might be better ways to highlight her personality.


Short Bio (49 words)

"Jane Doe is a romance novelist who explores human nature. Her experience in family therapy gives her debut novel, Time’s A Turning, emotional range and richness of conflict. When Doe isn’t gaining literary inspiration from culturally immersive travel, she lives in Upstate New York with her cats, Star and Buck."


Critique:

  • Same as above.


One Liner (19 words)

"Jane Doe brings emotional range and richness of conflict to her gripping debut romance novel, Time’s A Turning, imparting."


Critique:

  • It’s clear, communicative, and tells us about her and her novel.


Three Word (3 words)

Gripping Romance Novelist


Critique:

  • This describes her attributes.



TEMPLATES

Long Bio

[Author Name] is a rising star in the realm of [genre] fiction, tracing [his/her/their] origins back to [childhood, level of school, or a particular event]. From a young age, [he/she] harbored an unbridled passion for storytelling, a passion that has now blossomed into a burgeoning writing career.

In [Year], [Author Name] unveiled [his/her] [debut/upcoming] novel, "[Title of Debut Novel]," a [literary masterpiece/inspired journey] that appeals to [target audience & genre] readers, displaying [his/her/their] emerging talent in the [genre]. This captivating work is imbued with [briefly mention the novel's unique qualities], leaving readers eagerly anticipating [his/her] next literary endeavor.

Currently calling [current location] home, [Author Name] draws inspiration from the [surrounding landscapes or experiences], which serve as the fertile soil for [his/he] creativity. As a first-time author, [Author Name] is ecstatic to share [his/he] story-weaving prowess with the world and is poised to captivate readers with [his/her] future [works/poems/books].

With an unwavering belief in the transformative power of narratives, [Author Name] views [his/her] debut novel as only the beginning of [his/her] literary odyssey. As [he/she] embarks on this exciting journey, readers can expect to be enthralled by a [tapestry/series/array] of tales that promise to [scare/arouse/intrigue/mystify]. Stay tuned for the forthcoming adventures of this gifted author.



Medium Bio

[Your Name] is a [Your Profession, Hobby, or Attribute, e.g. social worker, avid quilter; world traveler] with a passion for writing. Fueled by a lifelong love for storytelling, [he/she] [describe your writing journey or experience, e.g., "joined creative writing courses," “always dreamed of becoming a fiction writer,” or "devotes weekends to crafting short stories," etc.]. 

Currently absorbed in [his/her] next work, [Your 2nd Book Title if available], [he/she] finds that [his/her] day-to-day life as a [Your Profession or Life Experience] fuels [his/her] [Creativity, Love of writing…]. When [He/She] isn’t writing, [he/she] can be found [what do you do for fun? This is a time to be quirky or fun.]


Short Bio

[Your name] is a [your profession] and [other relevant info, e.g. award or accomplishment]. [He/She] loves to [list a hobby or skill] from [his/her] home in [location].


RESOURCES



STAND OUT

Once you have a draft, you should think about tweaking it and adjusting it to stand out as different from all the rest. Here are two examples of mine.


Medium for Website

“Growing up, I was a storyteller through D&D, drawing, painting, sculpting, and more.​ As a Ph.D. student, and then as a professor, I researched geophysics and wrote technical papers about the Earth.​ As an entrepreneur, I learned how to write with empathy, and to cater my words for the people they were intended for. When I became chronically ill in 2018, I began writing science fiction as an outlet for my creativity and as an escape from my body.”


Short for Social Media

Scientist→Author, Resilient, Nerd, Chronically ill

- I NANO - Dystopian YA

- DAY AFTER INFINITY - Space Sci-Fi

- METAL - Apocalyptic



FAQ

Q. Can I include personal details in my author bio?

A. Yes, personal anecdotes or insights can make your bio more relatable, as long as they are relevant to your writing journey.


Q. Should I mention my unpublished works in my bio?

A. It's best to focus on published works and writing-related achievements in your bio to showcase your credibility.


Q. Can I update my author bio frequently?

A. Please do. It's good practice to revamp and update your bio as you achieve new milestones in your writing career.


Q. Can I include my cat's name in my author bio?

A. While your cat may be your writing muse, it's generally best to focus on your own accomplishments, not your feline overlord.


Q. Is it essential to mention my writing goals in my bio?

A. Not necessarily. In longer form, it can provide readers with insight into your future directions.


Q. Can you hire a freelancer to write your author bio?

A. Yes…but do you want to spend your money here? A bio exchange with another author will be just as good. Reach out on Twitter, FB, or Threads for a boost.


Q. How do I make my author bio stand out from others?

A. Emphasize what makes you unique and connect on a personal level with your readers.


Q. Can I use humor in my author bio?

A. If humor aligns with your personality and genre, go for it. Be yourself.


Q. Should I mention my coffee addiction in my bio?

A. The goal is to stand out. Most authors live on caffeine and insanity, so you might want to choose something else.


Q. Is it acceptable to use a pen name in my bio?

A. Yes, if you write under a pen name, then use it in your author bio to maintain consistency.


Q. Should I mention my day job in my author bio?

A. You can if it's relevant to your writing journey or adds an interesting dimension to your bio.


Q. Can I use different bios for different genres I write in?

A. Yes, tailoring your bio to specific genres or niches can help you connect with the right audience for each.


Q. How do I choose between a third-person and first-person bio?

A. The choice depends on your platform and audience. Third-person bios are more formal, while first-person bios are more personal and intimate.


 

As always, I appreciate your support of indie authors. In the name of putting myself out there, here are a few of my works.



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