You’re writing the author bio page for your book, and are unsure what should go there and what shouldn’t. There’s a right way and wrong way to do this, so let’s take a look.
Keep it brief – Your book’s author bio page should be short—just two or three brief paragraphs.
Make it factual – Give us specific facts about your past, not an iteration of your beliefs or a description of your personality. Don’t say you’re “a military veteran” — tell us what branch you served in and in what capacity. Don’t say you had “a stint in corporate America” — tell us what company you worked for and your job title.
Summarize – Unlike a resume that lists your accomplishments in detail, your bio page merely summarizes those, and only highlights your most impressive and relevant ones. Don’t tell us all the schools you’ve attended, all the places you’ve worked, or all your former job titles (unless you’ve only worked for one company or attended one university). If your book is academic in nature, it’s permissible to give more detail than if you’ve written for a popular audience.
Make it topic-related – Only include accomplishments that relate to your qualifications to write on your subject. For instance, if you won an award for a song you wrote and your book is a financial investment primer, telling readers about that song would typically not be in your favor. Mentioning it would probably make you look unprofessional, casting doubt on your credibility rather than enhancing it.
Match the tone – Avoid inappropriate humor. The tone of your author bio page should match the tone of your manuscript. Only include humor in the bio if humor is part of the writing style of your book. If you’ve written a lighthearted financial primer, making jokes along the way as you give information, then a tongue-in-cheek mention of the song award in your bio might be appropriate.
Write it in third person – Refer to yourself in your bio in the third person—as “he” or “she,” not “I.” Even if the book was written in first person, your author bio should not be.
Don’t sound pompous – Your book’s author bio is not an ad. Don’t sabotage it with self-congratulatory adjectives and boastful sentences! Find the succinct, objective 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.
Mention your other published books – If you’ve written other books, include their titles, but don’t list more than several.
End with something personal – Write one sentence that’s personal at the end, but don’t make it too personal. For example, you might say that you live in Austin with your wife and three children, but you wouldn’t include your kids’ names and ages.
Include your photo – Including your photo on the author bio page generates trust and augments your credibility. Make sure the picture is clear. Generally, this should be a head shot, not a photo of you with spouse or family. Exceptions: if your book is about training dogs, it’s okay to have your pooch in the picture. If it’s about someone who saved your life, it’s okay to have your rescuer in the picture.
Title it correctly – At the top, the heading should read ‘About the Author’ (not ‘Author Bio Page’).
Model other bios – Check out other professionally published books in your genre for samples of how your author bio page should look and read.
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.
Overdoing it is the biggest mistake self-publishing authors make in their author bio. Keep it simple. Keep it relevant. Think of it as an introduction to a stranger. You wouldn’t tell someone you’re shaking hands with for the first time every detail about your life, and you shouldn’t do that in your author bio, either.
So now you know how to write an author bio page for your book. Many prospective readers flip to this page before deciding whether to buy. 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