What belongs on a book’s About the Author page (author bio page)? What mistakes should you avoid when you write it? I’m a professional book editor, so let me give you the skinny . . .
- 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 significant accomplishments of career or life experience that give you credentials for writing on your subject. Briefly, wow them with just enough of your success to show them you know what you’re talking about.
- Keep it short—Write two brief paragraphs (no more than three). Don’t tell your life history or give them your resume.
- Word it casually—Avoid stuffy phrasing and the passive voice, which make an author bio page sound pompous. If the book is nonfiction, you can usually write the bio page in the same tone you used for the rest of the book.
- Polish until it shines—Devote the time it takes to massage the sentences. Find the succinct, impressive wording that makes you look like a pro in your field.
- Run it by your book 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.
- Place it at the back of the book—For softbound or digital books, your author bio page should appear near the end of the book. If you’re publishing a hardbound version, the information should also appear on the back flap of the jacket.
- 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 close-up photo of you alone, not you with your significant others.
Many prospective readers flip to the author bio page before deciding whether to buy a book. Be sure this page gets the special attention it deserves so it absolutely presents you in your best light.
Jessi Rita Hoffman … book editing by an industry professional