How to write an author bio page … this question may have you scratching your head when you get to the end of your manuscript. Also called the About the Author page, your bio must follow book-publishing protocol for it to sound professional. As a book editor, I see lots of authors make mistakes with this page, so let me give you the skinny on how to do it properly.
- Leave out the small details—You’re not applying for a job, only for a reader to buy your book. You want to hook them, not put them to sleep. Readers want you to neatly summarize your accomplishments, not list every one.
- Focus on the highlights—In a nutshell, tell them the most significant accomplishments of your career or life experience that give you credentials for writing this book. Wow them with just enough of your success to show them you know what you’re talking about. If you won a prize for a song you wrote, and your book’s about how to fix motorcycles, that award does not belong on your author bio page.
- Keep it short—The author bio should be two or three brief paragraphs (no more than four). Don’t tell your life story or give them some version of your resume. Do mention relevant awards or honors and possibly a job title or two, a school or two, or a degree or two if they command respect and relate to your topic. You can finish up with a sentence about your personal life (where you live/spouse or children) if you feel that is appropriate for your book.
- Word it simply, objectively, and in the third person—Avoid stuffy phrasing and the passive voice, which make an author bio page sound pompous. Do not include self-congratulatory adjectives or boastful sentences! Describe your accomplishments objectively, simply, and in the third person (he or she, not I). Write the bio page in the same tone you used for the rest of the book: serious, humorous, academic, or whatever that tone happens to be.
- Polish until it shines—Take the time required to massage the sentences. Find the succinct, perfect wording that makes you sound like a pro in your field and displays you in an impressive light without sounding like you’re tooting your own horn.
- Run it by your editor—Your developmental book editor should give the page a final pass, so don’t forget to include it in the manuscript you send her. If you’re having trouble, give her the raw materials, and she can write the page for you.
- Place it in the back—Place the author bio page near the back of your book, before the Acknowledgements page. If you’re publishing a hardbound version, the information should also appear on the jacket’s back flap.
- Include a photo—A picture is still worth a thousand words. Unless you have the misfortune of being born with a face that looks like it was run over by a bus, include a head shot on your bio page. This should be a professional-looking, close-up photo of you alone—not you with your significant others.
When you’re finished tweaking, compare your bio with those of a few professionally published books in your field or genre. Your page should look similar, with a similar tone and style.
So now you know how to write an author bio page. Many prospective readers flip to this page before deciding whether to buy a book. Be sure you give your bio the attention it deserves so it represents you as an author who’s well worth reading.
Jessi Rita Hoffman … book editing by an industry professional