Please welcome author Nicolas Frame with some good advice on writing your first author bio.
It’s an invigorating feeling, receiving one’s first acceptance letter from an editor. We want your piece. Yay! Pop the champagne cork, and put a party hat on your cat. But at the end of that email, you’ll usually realize they want you to provide an author bio.
This can be horrifying, and we authors often fret more over writing our bios than our stories. After all, stories are fictional. Our author bios are supposed to tell the world who we are and about our writing. It can be intimidating to think so introspectively.
Whether you’ve actually received that acceptance letter or you’re just getting your bio ready in anticipation (good for you for being prepared!), the following should help you understand what you might want to include and avoid in your author bio.
Writing Your Author Bio
It’s difficult to craft an author bio when it will accompany your first published piece. What can you say about your writing? They’ll know you’re nothing more than a first-time amateur, right? Relax. It’s actually a great opportunity for you to showcase yourself as an author.
Author bios are really no different than any other type writing, except you must think of yourself as the main character. And you want to market this character. Think about how your friends might describe you or how you might introduce yourself to someone at a networking event (because, you know, we all go to such things). What are some major parts of your life that you don’t mind the general public knowing about you?
What’s your long-term goal as a writer? Do you have a novel in the works? What genre do you want to be known for? These are just a few basic questions to consider. It’s also perfectly okay to tie in some personal facts like where you live, how many cats you own, whether you’re married, and what your day job is. You are by no means obligated to include any or all of these details. The only rule for an author bio, and it’s more of a guideline, is to make sure you are writing an author bio. What you include should focus on who you are as a writer, not what you’d share in your personal Facebook or Twitter profile.
Things to Include in Your Author Bio
Talk about why you’re qualified as a writer. If you wrote a story about being a long-haul truck driver and you have held this as your day job for the last eight years, that’s worth noting.
Take this opportunity to really sell yourself as an author. You may have heard it before, but I’ll tell you again anyway: Everything you write, from emails to editors to your bio to your actual stories, showcases you as an author. Think of your bio as a bonus addition to your published pieces that you can use to show how skilled or talented you are.
Check out other authors’ bios for ideas. Do some make you laugh? What was funny? Are some lame? Why? If you notice trends, make note of them. For example, authors with a lot of publication credits will often only mention the most notable ones. This will be useful when you start racking up the acceptance letters.
It doesn’t hurt to have a current, professional headshot ready to include upon request.
Finally, be sure to include a link to your website or blog.
Things to Avoid in Your Author Bio
One thing to avoid, especially in your first bio, is mentioning that this is your first publication.
Also avoid mentioning anything you might regret later. Your bio will be burned into permanent existence in print or on the Internet. Remember that before you crack jokes about your in-laws, talk about how you write at work when you should be working, or shout out that hottie you’ve been dating for a few weeks.
Be careful when mentioning dates or specific timelines. For example, it’s better to write, “She hopes to have her sci-fi novel completed soon” instead of “She hopes to have her sci-fi novel completed in 2014.” Dates come and go. If you miss your own deadline you’ll look unprofessional.
Stay away from spammy paragraphs drowning in links to every social media account you have. Focus on showcasing one or two links (at most), which you update regularly and are related to your writing. In other words, keep it relevant.
Multiple Versions of Your Author Bio
You’ll eventually need to craft multiple versions of your author bio. Some publishers want bios under a certain word count. Others want serious and professional bios only. Sometimes you will have to make a judgment call about whether to send off a tell-all or a humorous one-liner. You’ll also want a lengthier version for your author website or blog.
A great technique to use when approaching your bio is to create a long version, in the third-person of course, and then when you submit your work to agents or editors, you can take the bits that fit that particular submission or publication best. If you’re sending a romance story, you’ll probably want to edit out the parts about you being a single person with nine cats. However, if you were submitting to a humor column, the editor and readers might find owning nine cats an appropriate chuckle-worthy addition.
Ready to Write Your Bio?
One final note: revise! After you craft a great bio that brands you as a writer of a specific genre and that markets your website to readers and mentions your newly purchased hairless Sphinx cat, you’ll be ready to send it off. Don’t. Wait a day or two and revisit it. You’ll likely find a few things that can be restated more succinctly or unnecessary redundancies that can be eliminated.
About the Author: Nicolas Frame is an author of short fiction, nonfiction articles, and some poetry.
I’m looking for interesting author bios for suspense authors. Can you recommend any great examples?
Thanks for reading and posting this question. Suspense is a specific subset of fiction writing. It sometimes gets lumped in with mystery or thriller. What I would recommend is finding stories you really like in the genre and then reading those authors’ bios. If you’ve ever heard of Every Day Fiction, they have an entire archive for “Mystery/Suspense” stories and there is an author bio at the end of each one: http://www.everydayfiction.com/category/stories/mystery/
Good luck, and let us know if you find any other sources that work for you!
I almost forgot to mention the Horror Writers Association. They would be an excellent source for finding material to read, discovering authors who write suspense, and even asking about author bios in that genre. http://horror.org/
Thank you so much. That gave me a lot of insight. Im in the process of writing a poetry book
I am a fanfiction writer, who is wanting to use one of my fanfiction stories, that I wrote, as a basis for a romance novel. Do you think that as long as I change some information, that the publishers will accept it? I plan to change the names, some places, and some events of the fanfiction story I wrote.
My understanding is that the commercially successful novel Fifty Shades of Grey started out as Twilight fan fiction, so it’s definitely possible.
I’m looking for interesting author bios for chef authors. Can you recommend any great examples?
This site is about creative writing. I’d recommend visiting chef websites and reading books by chefs to find their bios.
Hi. I’m a first-time book of poetry writer. Can you recommend any good examples of author bios for poetry?
Hi Charlotte. I’m not sure what kind of bios you’re looking for. Book-length biographies? Short bios to use as examples for writing your own? My best recommendation is to start with your favorite poets. Poets.org is a useful resource for all things related to poetry, including the shorter bios. Good luck!
hi, I am releasing my first ever anthology. so I need some sort of best bio for myself. i usually write poems and I am a blogger too.
I want to write the best bio for myself.
I recommend reading a bunch of author bios. Save the ones that you like best, and read those again. Then start writing yours. Take your time with it. Crafting a bio is difficult for even the most prolific writers.
I am first time children’s picture book writer ( after career in other technology field), can you please suggest some sample and share your experience
Hi, I am publishing, my first non-fiction (self-help) book. Could you suggest me, what can I write about?
Unless you’re writing as an assignment, I really don’t think anyone can tell you what to write about for a nonfiction book. Look to your interests and expertise.