How to (Re)Write Your Author Bio

How to write an author bio

Every publication is different, but most have one thing in common: you’ll be asked to include an author bio. In this guide, I’ll explore how to write an author bio for every possible purpose.

You’ll learn:

  • The four types of author bios you need
  • Why you need to update your author bio regularly
  • What to include in your author bio
  • How to write your author bio: best practices

An author bio establishes who you are and what you write to potential readers, media correspondents, and publishing professionals. 

The four types of author bios you need

Every time you create a social media account, publish something, participate in an interview, or otherwise work with the media, you’ll be asked for an author bio. You can save yourself a lot of time and energy by drafting four bios in advance:

  • Social media bio. This will be your shortest bio, since many social media networks have strict character limits. You’ll also want to leave some room for customization. This lets you optimize each bio with the best hashtags and/or links for that platform.
  • Publication bio. This is the bio you’ll send to blogs and other publications interested in working with you. Most publications suggest “a short paragraph”. This gives you slightly more room than a social media bio, but you’ll still want to cap it at five sentences.
  • Book bio. You’ll also want to create a specialized bio for the “About the Author” page at the end of your books. Readers are already invested in your work at this point, so you can write something a bit longer, so long as it fits on one page. However, most “About the Author” pages stick with one paragraph.
  • Website bio. Last but certainly not least, you’ll want a bio for your website. This can be as long as you want it to be. A website is also less formal than the “About the Author” page of your books, so you can use a more conversational tone or even write your bio in first person.

You can then copy + paste the appropriate bio into documents/emails as needed. 

Why you need to update your author bio regularly

As long as you’re alive, your author bio is a living document. It should change to reflect changes in your life, especially career milestones. With that in mind, there are a few times when you might want to change your bio:

  • When you publish a new book or start a new series
  • When you start a new project your readers will find relevant, such as a podcast
  • If you’re nominated for and/or win an award
  • If you move to a new city or country
  • When it’s been more than a year since you last updated your bios
  • If you transition to a new “day job” career or to full-time writing

This might seem like a lot, but for most of us, this amounts to changing our bio once or twice a year. If you publish at a faster rate, you might only change your bio when you start a new series, rather than for individual books. 

What to include in your author bio

An effective author bio consists of three main components:

  • An explanation of what you write
  • A glimpse of your life beyond writing
  • Information about how people can connect with you and/or buy your work

Let’s take a closer look at each type of information.

What you write

The first section of your bio should tell visitors the genre and type of work (novels, screenplays, poetry, etc.) you write. For example, this was the opening paragraph of my author bio from 2018 – 2020:

How to write your author bio: Dianna Gunn author bio

These two sentences establish the genres I write in and the title of my first novel. As an added bonus, the first sentence tells visitors about my “day job” as a freelance writer. This gives people some idea of what my life looks like when I’m not working on my novels.

On the other hand, the description of my fiction is highly generic, referring to it simply as “fantasy” with a note about “occasional science fiction”. So I rewrote it to give a better feel for my work:

“Dianna Gunn is a freelance writer by day and a fantasy author by night. Her sword and sorcery novel, Moonshadow’s Guardian, was published in 2018.”

I only changed a few words, but the inclusion of a subgenre, sword and sorcery, provides visitors with a stronger understanding of my books. I also removed the reference to science fiction because I haven’t dabbled with it in years. This keeps my brand wholly focused on the fantasy genre.

Professional achievements and qualifications

When you have an opportunity to include more information, the next thing you want to include is professional achievements and qualifications, such as:

  • Awards nominations and wins
  • Membership in a professional writing organization like SFWA
  • Bestseller status
  • Grants won
  • Relevant post-secondary education

These details add an extra layer of professionalism to your bio. However, don’t fret if you haven’t hit these milestones yet. Many authors, especially indie authors, make a living off of their work without hitting any of these milestones. You can reach for other interesting parts of your life to fill out your bio.

A glimpse of your life beyond writing

The second thing you want to do is give visitors an impression of who you are outside of writing. 

In a short author bio, this will typically be something about where you live and who you live with. For example, Diana Pinguicha’s bio talks about both her location and her pets:

Other authors include details about their hobbies. This can be a great way to establish a connection with potential readers who have similar interests. For example, horror author Mimi Schweid mentions her appreciation of comics, dice, and tarot in her bio:

How to write an author bio: Mimi Schweid

In a longer bio, you might include both of these pieces of information. You may also want to include information about your day job, your education, or even your favorite color.

Pro tip: When possible, share aspects of your personal life that are directly relevant to your brand. For example, if you write novels about characters who struggle with mental illness, you might want to share your own mental health struggles.

Your origin story

The other piece of information you may want to include in a longer bio is your “origin story”. This can be about where you grew up, but most authors share how they got into writing instead. 

Mary Kit Caelsto does this well on her About me page:

Mary’s bio is excellent because it ties her origin story, a life-long obsession with horses, to her brand as a writer of equestrian novels. She goes on to discuss how this obsession with horses led her to Mercedes Lackey and fantasy, which ties into her recent forays into fantasy as an author. 

How people can find out more/buy your work

The final section of your bio should provide at least one way for people to further interact with your work. For example, when you do interviews or guest articles on book blogs, your bio might link to your website. Your website bio, on the other hand, might link to your email newsletter or purchase pages for your books.

How to write an author bio: best practices

1. Think of it as a writing sample

A simple, professional bio is perfectly fine, but your author bio can also be a visitor’s first taste of your writing style. To achieve this, focus on framing your story in your authorial voice. This means using a similar vocabulary, pace, and tone to what is found in your work.

To demonstrate this, let’s return to my old author bio. This is the original text:

“Dianna Gunn is a freelance writer by day and a fantasy (and occasional science fiction) author by night. Her fantasy novel, Moonshadow’s Guardian, was released in November 2018.”

The first edit got a little more specific about the type of fantasy I write, but remained distant and professional:

“Dianna Gunn is a freelance writer by day and a fantasy author by night. Her sword and sorcery novel, Moonshadow’s Guardian, was published in 2018.”

This is a serviceable bio, especially as a relatively new writer. However, I’ve become more confident in my authorial voice since then and I wanted my bio to show that growth. To accomplish this, I created a whole new introduction for my bio:

“Dianna Gunn writes freelance articles by day and weaves tales about sword-wielding women by night. She released Moonshadow’s Guardian, a dark fantasy novel about the value of freedom, in 2018.”

This introduction uses the long, weaving sentences I tend to use in my fiction. I also use it to establish some common themes in my work: sword-wielding women and the value of freedom. While the latter is only the primary focus in Moonshadow’s Guardian, the question of what we’re willing to do for freedom runs through all of my work.

2. Optimize your bio for relevant keywords and hashtags

An author bio can also serve to bring new visitors to your website or social media profiles. You can turn your bios into visibility tools by optimizing them for search engines. Social media bios can be further optimized through effective use of hashtags.

Keywords

Keywords are specific words and phrases that tell search engines what your content is about. As an author, the best keywords for you will typically be related to your genre. You may also want to use keywords related to specific aspects of your stories, such as worldbuilding elements and character identities. For example, an epic fantasy author might use the following keywords:

  • Epic fantasy
  • Fantasy novels
  • Epic fantasy novels
  • Epic fantasy novels for adults
  • Dragons
  • Magic
  • Fae

If their books also feature prominent romance subplots, the author might also include terms like “fantasy romance” or “enemies to lovers”. They might also note if any major characters are queer, especially if it’s an “ownvoices” work (a story written by an author who shares a marginalized identity with their character).

You can probably think of a few keywords right off the bat, like your genre and subgenre. However, relevance is only one part of the puzzle. The most effective keywords are terms people search for regularly that aren’t targeted by most businesses in your niche, allowing your site to rise to the first page of Google. 

This makes it important to find long-tail keywords (keywords consisting of two or more words), like “epic fantasy novels for adults”. These are easier to rank for and more affordable to advertise for than more generic terms like “epic fantasy”. They also give visitors a better idea of what to expect from your work.

You can use the free Google Keyword Planner to find out the search volumes and competition levels for various keywords. Google Trends can give you more information about the history of individual keywords.

Hashtags

Hashtags are tools for categorizing content on social media. When someone sees a post they like, they can click on a hashtag to see similar content. On some networks, like Instagram, people can also follow hashtags. For example, I follow the hashtag #GermanShepherd so I can see a slew of puppies at the end of a long day.

People can also search for hashtags using each network’s search function. This is what makes hashtags an important part of how to write an author bio. Strategic placement of two or three hashtags makes it easier for people to find you.

You can use Hashtagify to find out the popularity of keywords and get keyword suggestions for both Instagram and Twitter. 

Accessibility tip: When using a hashtag with multiple words, capitalize each word in the hashtag like this: #DarkFantasy. This makes it easier for screen readers to decipher the words, making your posts more accessible to blind folks. 

3. Include a call to action

A call to action is exactly what it sounds like: a sentence or phrase asking people to take a specific action. For example, in a social media post linking to this article, I might use “Read now” as a call to action. This tells viewers exactly how I want them to interact with my content.

Every piece of content you write should include a call to action. In most author bios, the call to action naturally falls at the end, where most authors place a passive link. 

To demonstrate this, let’s consider my bio for the Business for Authors site. My core offering for authors is the Author Marketing Club, so I want to link to it in my bio. In my first draft, I might write something like this:

“Most recently, Gunn launched the Author Marketing Club to help authors.”

This sentence includes both the link and a reason for people to click on the link, but it doesn’t tell people to do so. 

I can more effectively end my bio with a sentence like this:

“Sign up for the Author Marketing Club to boost your author platform with simple, actionable marketing prompts.”

This sentence is a direct call to action, supported by precise information about what the Author Marketing Club offers.

To transform your link sentence into a call to action, use one of the following phrases:

  • Learn more
  • Find out more
  • Read more
  • Read now
  • Buy now
  • Sign up
  • Subscribe
  • Join now

These phrases are action-oriented, telling visitors how to interact with your brand. With clear direction and expectations, people are more likely to take the actions you want them to.

4. Edit, edit, edit

The most important thing to remember about how to write an author bio is to treat it like an important document. Don’t rush to publish the first thing you come up with. Try a few different versions. Experiment with sentence structure, keywords, hashtags. Proofread obsessively. 

If possible, you also want to get feedback on your bio before publishing it. Send your favorite draft to an author friend, your writing group, or a trusted reader. Ask them to assess it for the following factors:

  • Readability
  • Level of information provided
  • Effectiveness as a sample of your writing

Once you’ve finished feedback-based revisions, you may also want to ask someone else to proofread it. After all, this is going to be one of the most visible pieces of your website and/or social media profiles. You don’t want an obvious mistake to deter potential readers.

Final thoughts on how to write an author bio

Author bios are essential documents for connecting with readers, colleagues, and media professionals. They can also be a sample of your writing style and/or tone.

An effective author bio consists of three components:

  • Information about your writing
  • A glimpse of your personal life
  • A call to action asking visitors to interact with your brand in some way

Most of all, your author bio should be as carefully written and edited as any other professional document. After all, your bio is often your first chance to show your professional writing skills.


Want biweekly marketing prompts delivered straight to your inbox + opportunities for feedback on your author platform? Join the Author Marketing Club today!

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