Your book is going to need an author bio. The best time to write your bio is before you need it. That means you should start now. (See “Why You Should Write Your Author Bio Now.”)
For a short piece, writing our own bio (that is, a concise autobiography) can be confoundingly frustrating. One challenge is that our bio is about us, a topic we’re intimately familiar with, having much more information then we have room to share. How do we condense a lifetime into a few hundred words?
Next is the task of making it interesting to readers—in a couple of sentences. Last is figuring out a way to let readers know our qualifications without sounding as if we’re bragging. Also, our author’s bio is written in the third person. For writers used to the first person, switching to third adds another complication.
Start by doing some recon at your local library or bookstore. Go to the section that will contain your future book and start reading the author’s bios on the back cover or inside flap. Look for patterns: the flow, what’s included, and what’s not.
Notice the writing style. Is it formal, playful, informative, academic, light? Which tone resonates best with you? Also, estimate the number of words. Bios can range from fifty words up to a couple hundred. What length are the ones you like most?
A great bio – and we all need a really great bio—is seldom penned in one sitting. It needs time to age, for it to ruminate as we seek to make it better, honing in on the essential message we wish to convey about who we are.
I’ve been working on mine for a year and am still not satisfied. Though I hope you find success quicker, I suggest you start working on yours today! Don’t make your author bio an afterthought you throw together at the last moment.
Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.