How to Write Your About the Author Page: Make Readers Adore You
As a self-published writer, establishing a credible reputation is key to building your fan base. Book browsers don’t want to spend their money on just any title; they want to make sure you’re the author to tell the story they want to experience.
It’s likely that more people will read your author bio than those who will read your book. A key to converting browsers into buyers is to gain their trust with your author bio.
A great author bio can prove to your soon-to-be-reader that you’ve got the background and the authority to tell a story that will keep them turning the page. On the other hand, a weak author bio can make readers overlook your book for an author who seems more relatable, credible, likeable or promising.
With the right about the author page, you can turn casual browsers into adoring, loyal fans.
Demonstrate Your Authority
Your reputation influences whether someone will buy your book—and your author bio is your first chance to introduce your credibility.
Highlight your credentials to prove to the reader why they should listen to you. If you’re writing a book about fishing, mention your years of personal or professional experience as a fishing guide. If you’re writing a novel, discuss your experience with the topic at hand, or highlight your credentials as a writer (awards, if or where you got your MFA in writing, etc.)
Keep your wording brief and don’t oversell it — simply say “John Smith, winner (or finalist) of the Booker Prize” or “Jane Doe has over thirty years of experience as a fly fishing instructor.”
List Your Other Books and Your Website
If you have other published books, be sure to mention them in your author bio. Previous publications prove to potential readers that you’re an established writer with experience under your belt.
Include a link to your writer website, longer bio page, podcast, social media channels and any other marketing product you want your readers to engage with at the end of your bio. End with a clear and simple call to action, just like the prolific essayist, novelist and comic-book writer Roxane Gay:
Roxane Gay is the author of the novel An Untamed State, which was a finalist or the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Fiction; the essay collection Bad Feminist; and Ayiti, a multi-genre collection. She is at work on a memoir, Hunger, and a comic book in Marvel’s Black Panther series. Her writing has appeared in Best American Short Stories 2012, the New York Times, the Guardian, and many others. She is a recipient of the PEN Center USA Freedom to Write Award, among other honors. She splits her time between Indiana and Los Angeles.
Name Drop (Tactfully)
If you’ve worked with or received a great review from a heavy-hitter in your genre or field, mentioning these connections will provide social proof and add to your credibility.
But don’t overdo it — if you’ve been recognized by a notable writer or expert in your book’s field, weave it tactfully into the bio without coming across as desperate.
An example can be gleaned from a review on the back of John Darnielle’s novel Wolf in White Van:
…with writing that Helen Oyeyemi claimed she’d go for like a shot, this novel by John Darnielle pulls you into a narrative that won’t let you go…
Using Oyeyemi’s review in this way shows Darnielle’s contextually-meaningful connection to the magical-realist author Oyeyemi without seeming to rely on her fame for his own career’s advancement.
And whatever you do, only use quotes that are true — the last thing you want is to be called out by a prolific field expert or professional writer!
Your author bio should always be written in third person, and should not exceed 250 words. Make sure it matches the tone of voice and visual style of the front and back covers.
It’s a good idea to include a photo, as this personifies the name on the cover of the book and the person described on the about the author page. Seeing a friendly, real person is easier to relate to, but it’s important to do it right. Only use a high-quality, professional and up-to-date photograph.
Quick tip: If you don’t have a professional photo—and your budget is tight—find a local university or high school and ask if there are any students who will do this for an affordable rate. You don’t need anything fancy; a headshot will do the trick.
Example of a Strong Author Bio
This example of a good author bio shows how an author can succinctly talk up their credentials in a way that’s interesting and attention-grabbing, without overselling:
Michael Siemsen is the USA Today Bestselling author of 6 novels, including The Dig, A Warm Place to Call Home (a demon’s story), and Exigency. He lives in Northern California with “the wife,” “the kids,” “the dog,” “that cat,” and he occasionally wears pants. His latest release, RETURN, is the third book in his #1 bestselling Matt Turner series.
Example of a Weak Author Bio
John Smith is a literary journalist whose stories on human behavior and public policy have appeared in Time, The Atlantic, and Slate and helped Time win two National Magazine Awards. To discuss her work, she has appeared on ABC, NBC, CNN, FOX News, and NPR. Ripley’s first book, The Unthinkable, was published in fifteen countries and turned into a PBS documentary.