It is important to have good author bio before you finish your book project. The author bio helps people make the decision to buy your book, and you will find yourself in need of a good bio for a variety of different purposes associated with marketing your book.
Here is our guide to writing a good author bio for projects with Fallen Rook Publishing.
Write in third person
Although you probably think of yourself in the first person (“I write for fun, it is my book, people talk to me”), author biographies tend to be written in the third person (“Bob writes for fun, it is his book, people talk to him”). This usually looks more formal and more professional, and it also gives readers a better chance to learn and remember your name. Furthermore, if you list some of your accomplishments, it sounds a bit less like bragging!
Write for your readers
You know who you are already, so your biography is not for you. Readers (and prospective buyers) are the people who will be reading your author bio, so have them as your audience.
How might you introduce yourself to people you have never met? That’s not actually the best way to approach this, because you are still thinking too much from your own point of view.
How might someone else (your partner, your parents, your best friend) introduce you to other people? This is a better question, because such people making introductions on your behalf will try to make sure that their brief description of you is more relevant to the person to whom they are speaking, while also communicating some of your successes that you might be too bashful to mention yourself.
A typical author bio should be no more than 100 words, otherwise it begins to seem insufferably longwinded. Consider this author bio for Keith Farrell:
Keith Farrell is one of the senior instructors for the Academy of Historical Arts. He teaches HEMA professionally, often at international events, and has an interest in coaching instructors to become better teachers. He has authored Scottish Broadsword and British Singlestick and the AHA German Longsword Study Guide, and maintains a blog at www.keithfarrell.net where he posts regularly. He has been a member of HEMAC since 2011, and was awarded a HEMA Scholar Award for Best Instructor for research published in 2013. (82 words)
For comparison, we have added some additional information to increase the word count:
Keith Farrell is one of the senior instructors for the Academy of Historical Arts, based in the United Kingdom. He began studying HEMA properly in 2010, and now teaches HEMA professionally; he has taught at more than 50 national and international events in countries as far-flung as America and Australia. Although his first love is fencing with swords (primarily the longsword, but also the Scottish basket-hilted broadsword), he has a long-standing interest in coaching instructors to become better teachers. He has authored several books through Fallen Rook Publishing, including the critically acclaimed Scottish Broadsword and British Singlestick and the award winning AHA German Longsword Study Guide. He used to contribute on a weekly basis to Encased in Steel, and now maintains a blog at www.keithfarrell.net where he posts regularly. He has been a member of HEMAC since 2011, and was awarded a HEMA Scholar Award for Best Instructor for research published in 2013. (153 words)
Although the second bio is not quite double the length of the first, it feels like it drags on and on. Before you reach the end, you will doubtless be thinking “who cares?”
Keep your author bio concise and on point.
Use different words to refer to yourself
It is quite reasonable to use your full name in the first sentence of the author bio, but not thereafter. You might use just your first name in a subsequent line, but again, don’t over-use it. Try to find a few different ways to refer to yourself so that your writing does not sound awkward or stilted. Imagine you were introducing one of your friends to someone else. Would you call him Bob Robertson in each sentence? No, that would just be strange! Think of your own bio the way that one of your friends might introduce you to someone else, and use those kinds of words.
Have two or three versions with different lengths
You never know when you might be asked for an author bio to accompany a press release, an interview, for a blog article you have written, to go on the cover of a book, to accompany your author profile on our website, etc. You also never know what bizarre requirements people or companies will have for their biographies. So, save yourself some hassle ahead of time, and make yourself two or three versions.
It might be useful to have short, medium, and long versions, with 50-60 words (one paragraph), 70-100 words (either one or two paragraphs), and 100-140 words (across two or maybe three paragraphs). Then you can pick and choose which would be most appropriate for any given situation.
Accompany it with a good photo
Although people like to read about the author, they also appreciate a good photo to see what the author looks like. Although this might not end up on the book cover, it will probably appear in press releases and marketing material, and will definitely be featured on your author page on our website.
The image doesn’t have to be formal and stuffy. Choose a picture of your face (potentially upper body as well, but face is most important) that is relatively free of distractions (so not in a forest with trees getting in the way, for example), that shows you the way you like to present yourself (perhaps with a smile, a glass of wine, your favourite hat, your preferred sword, whatever).
Try and choose an image that you are happy to have representing you for the next several years. Something might be funny now, but will you still be happy with that in five or ten years?