Creating an author biography is the second most important piece of promotional writing which writers have to do after creating a short description of their book(s) down on paper. Why? Bios form part of query letters to editors, proposals, presentation flyers, websites, conference programs, catalogue blurbs, by-lines for articles you write for promotional purposes, introductions, etc. It has to be relevant to your writing and your expertise on the subject of your book.
An author biography is not a resume
To begin your bio, always remember to write in the third person. A long bio will be no more than half a page and a short one – a paragraph, or even as short as one sentence. Study examples of other writers’ bios and note what you like and don’t like.
This is where you sell yourself to the editor. Your opening line is your introduction, the first thing the editor notices. Start writing your one page bio, as it is easier to write. Make lists of your relevant credentials, special skills, awards and accomplishments, memberships, and publishing history. Use facts to promote yourself rather than lots of adjectives and adverbs. Brag a little bit, but be 100% truthful.
Cut, re-write, edit.
Now begin to tighten it up, cut out, and re-write. Then get someone else to edit it. A bio is a short, compact summary of your skills and your personality. If you find that you are having difficulty keeping it short, ask an editor to help you cut it down.
The bio in a query letter to a magazine editor is usually a paragraph, so you have a few more words to play with. This type of author biography must clearly tell an editor why you are the ideal person to write this article. Short bios need all the components of a long one, but choose only your best credentials, best awards, best publication successes, etc. Very short bios are demanding to write – what to include or what to cut? Start trying to describe yourself in three to five words…
Writing good promotional material takes much time and effort but it is always worthwhile. And you have to write it only once, yet you can use this bio for years. If you write more books and achieve more publishing success, just add it to your first version.