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How to Write a Smashing Author Bio

Posted by Kristen House on June 15, 2018 at 9:00 AM

If you’ve written a great book, chances are readers will turn to the very last page to see who, exactly, is this masterful writer. Your author bio should tell a story about you that your readers can connect with.

There are two places where your readers can connect with you: through your books, and through your social media pages, including your website. Since these are two different types of mediums—and especially since your book bio must be short and to the point, while your website bio can be longer and more detailed—let’s talk about how to write a smashing author bio, both for the back of your book and for your author website.





How to Write a Smashing Author Bio for Your Website
Nobody wants to read a list of your credentials—how boring. Instead, your goal should be to breathe life into the words in your author bio to make readers really understand who you are. Your author website bio should tell a story about you while helping you connect with potential readers. Why are you writing a book? What is your goal as an author? 

Thanks to the booming self-publishing industry, there is now a sea of emerging authors who are all competing for a reader’s attention. If you can create a smashing author bio that allows a reader to connect with you, you’re already one step ahead of all the other authors out there (especially those who don’t have a website or an author bio at all!).

Let’s look at author Tracy Causley, whose book In the Shadow of Light I edited. (This bio has been cut down for conciseness in this blog). See her full bio here.

Tracy Causley was born into a military family and grew up zig-zagging the country before landing in Germany for seven years. Inspired by her early foreign travel adventures she writes historically inspired fiction seasoned with magical and supernatural themes.


Inspired by her early foreign travel adventures, Tracy pursued advanced studies in anthropology and art history. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Savannah College of Art and Design.


[…]


When Tracy isn't writing, she enjoys investigating family history and mysteries, listening to electropop and 80's music, dancing in her kitchen, reading, and traveling. She's a novice knitter, pretty-good pie baker, lover of trivia, and a self-proclaimed Italophile.


Lines like “zig-zagging the country” bring life to her bio, and Tracy’s decision to integrate small factoids like that she “pursued advanced studies” and “holds a Master of Fine Arts degree” was sound. Let’s take a look at one more effective author bio: that of Maurice Belfonte, whose book The Foreigner I edited. (This bio has been cut down for conciseness in this blog). See his full bio here.

A native of Trinidad and Tobago, Maurice immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 13. Adjusting to his new environment was not easy. He endured many trials and made many mistakes trying to find his way. It wasn’t until his late twenties that he “got his life together.”


[…]


Graduating top of his class was just the beginning. Later that year Maurice was given the opportunity to serve as an Associate Pastor at the second largest church in New York, The Greater Allen A.M.E. Church, where he served faithfully for almost three years before relocating with his family.


He also started his own organization, It’s T.I.M.E. Now Inc., where he would do educational consulting as a registered vendor with the New York City Department of Education. [...] Students have had life changing moments from sitting in his assemblies over the years.


This is why he does the work that he does. He believes in the power of mentoring, educating, and empowering. As a motivational speaker Maurice can share his stories of overcoming hurdles and various other forms of setbacks in a way that is relatable.


But Maurice had one more goal that he had to check off his list, one more way to reach his students and empower them to be the best version of themselves. Now he can say he is a published author, as his most recent accomplishment comes in the form of a book.


What do these authors’ successful bios have in common? They tell a story. They integrate details of the author’s life into an easy-to-read narrative that simultaneously tells the world who they are and mirrors the author’s writing style. And that’s just the secret: When you’re writing a smashing author bio, you want to tell a story, connect with the audience, and let them feel your passion.



How to Write a Smashing Author Bio for Your Book
Grab the closest book to you and flip to the last page or the back cover, where you’ll most likely see a picture and a brief bio on the “About the Author” page. Unlike an author’s website, where there is plenty of space to expand on his or her likes, activities, and inspirations, the author bio at the back of a book should be short—think 80 to 100 words max.

Here, you’ll do the opposite of the bio you’ve written for your website: to make the most impact, cut out everything except the essentials—which often means education and relevant experience.

Let’s look at an example. On the back cover of W.L. Harvey’s book Back Home (edited by me!), his bio reads:

W.L. Harvey spent six years serving in the US Navy and fifteen years with the US Army. He deployed five times with the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force to Afghanistan and three times to conduct counterterrorism operations in South America.


Harvey retired in 2011. He now lives in Fayetteville, North Carolina, with his wife and dog. Harvey enjoys competitive shooting, exercising, gunsmithing, and writing. His thriller, Back Home, is set in an area similar to his hometown in rural Mississippi.


Take a look at this beauty! It comes in right around 80 words and expertly shares the author’s relevant experience, and the second paragraph gets a little more personal, sharing details about what he enjoys doing while still keeping the focus on the book.



The Five Elements to Every Smashing Author Bio

(1) Who: Who are you?


(2) What: What do you do?


(3) The origin: What made you decide to become an author?


(4) The perspective: What are your guiding principles?


(5) The connection: How does all of the above connect with the books you publish?


These elements don’t always have to be in order—as long as they’re in your bio, you’ll be golden. Let’s look at my own bio as an example.


WHO & WHAT: Kristen is a fiction book editor specializing in developmental editing, line editing, and proofreading services for self-publishing and traditionally publishing authors. To date, she has edited over 300 books, several of which have won awards and topped Amazon's best sellers lists. With astounding qualifications, an impressive portfolio, and a flawless mastery of the complexities of the English language, she has become a reputable manuscript editor for first-time and veteran authors.


THE ORIGIN: Kristen’s passion for words started in childhood. She sought out books before she could even walk, and knew she wanted to pursue writing and editing as a career from her first memories. She’s been professionally involved in the writing/editing industry since 2003, but her experience and passion for books stretches years beyond that. THE CONNECTION: Today, she has established herself as a trustworthy, communicative professional who works independently on your manuscript, providing individualized service to correct your book's errors and highlight its strengths.


THE PERSPECTIVE: She is the founder, owner, and sole employee of Kristen Corrects, Inc.—and she has worked hard for her success: late nights, early mornings, overtime. But it's all been worth it. Working independently allows her the opportunity to interact with her clients and provide them personalized service. She believes there is nothing better than communication and friendliness in a business world that is slowly becoming less focused on people.



Let’s take a look at another example. This bio for author Kat Hibbard uses words like “rocky,” “crossfire,” and “violence” to pull at readers’ heartstrings. (This bio has been cut down for conciseness in this blog). Check out her full bio here.


WHO & WHAT: For Chicago native Kat Hibbard, life has not been easy. In fact, her unusual birth would be a catalyst for the rocky years ahead, growing up in the crossfire of violence for much of her childhood.


THE ORIGIN: When her mother intercepted a stray gunshot fired by her manic depressive, alcoholic father in 1964, her birth was artificially induced, bringing the infant Kat into a family riddled with alcoholism, domestic abuse and neglect.


In 2007, Hibbard released her memoir Bullets: Growing Up In the Crossfire. [...] Facing poverty, Hibbard continued to work 4 to 5 jobs in addition to marketing Bullets, taking interviews and speaking to teenaged victims of domestic violence.


THE PERSPECTIVE: Early in 2015, Hibbard was inspired to get into the fiction game. […] Writing fiction was at first difficult but as Hibbard became closer to the characters, storylines naturally unfolded. These characters at times host Hibbard's own hardships and views.


THE CONNECTION: The Chubby Chasers Trilogy follows the dual personality of Carrolyyn Davidson. Carrolyyn is highly successful but is driven by her compulsions. […] We are all trapped by something in our lives, a barrier to live freely and chase our dreams.


Kat’s bio is particularly effective, as it draws in emotion while simultaneously answering the “why” question: Why Kat chose to become a writer.




How does your author bio read? Your author bio is about you, but really, your readers should be able to see themselves in your story. The human element is a powerful connection that ties us to each other—use it! We all go through struggles, to come out on the other side with a new understanding of life. Use this in your author bio.


Feeling Stuck?

If you really can't figure out how to write a smashing author bio, leave it to the professionals: Although I'm foremost a book editor, a big part of my training and expertise centers on copywriting promotional materials—and that includes writing bios for my author clients. Contact me to see how I can help create your author bio!



Want to learn more about how to build your author brand

and become a self-publishing pro?

Follow Kristen on Facebook!



 

 

Book editor Kristen Hamilton is the owner and sole employee of

Kristen Corrects, Inc., where she provides manuscript editing

services for traditionally and self-publishing authors. Several

authors whose books she has edited have won awards and have

topped Amazon's best sellers lists.


Reading is Kristen's passion, so when the workday is over, she

can usually be found curled up with a good book alongside her

four cats. She loves watching cat videos and scary movies,

eating pizza, teaching herself French, and traveling, and she is

likely planning her next vacation. She lives outside of Boise, ID.


Categories: author business

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