Writing an Effective Author Biography

An author biography is like a short sales pitch that introduces the author to their readers, readers to the author’s published work, as well as achieving an end goal such as directing interested parties towards the author’s website or blog.

A strong author biography should connect the author with their readers, pique their curiosity, and generate interest about the author’s book.  It should appear whenever the author’s work is posted online or published in print, wherever their book is listed; as well as posted on their blog, website, social media page, or as a signature at the end of email correspondence.

Effective author biographies are always in a state of refinement.  They should be updated whenever the author publishes a new book, new work in prestigious publications, or when their work receives awards or accolades.  It’s something that every author should continually update and refine until perfection is achieved.

Here’s an author biography I put together for the late Todd Moore.  It’s far from perfect, but for illustration purposes, is reprinted below.

Todd Moore lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his wife Barbara.  Moore has published over one hundred books and chapbooks since 1976 – his spare poetic line is unmistakable and reads like a shattered Hemingway sentence.  According to the great novelist, Elmore Leonard, “Todd Moore runs with language and makes every word count.”  Moore’s newest collection of poetry, Dead Reckoning, is available now on Amazon.

The first sentence connects Moore with his readers, calling attention to his American roots and family.  The second sentence establishes Moore as a prolific author, mentioning his achievements and writing style.  The third sentence connects Moore with Elmore Leonard, a popular novelist and playwright, highlighting a favorable review.  The final sentence is the driving force of the sales pitch, mentioning Moore’s newest book and directing interested readers to Amazon to purchase.

Some general rules to follow when writing a biography:

  1. Write in the third person and use your full name.  This makes your author biography sound professional and will help you stay objective.
  2. Keep it focused.  Ask yourself what you are trying to achieve and what is your end goal. Some possible responses might be to buy your book, go to your website, or to contact you.  Once you’ve determined the end goal, tailor your biography towards that end.
  3.  Connect with your readers.  Determine who your audience is and look for different ways to become more personable.  If your book is about a specific topic like religious studies or skateboarding, for example, include relevant info like “John Smith is Pasteur of the Sherwood Alliance Church” or “When not writing, John Smith likes to skateboard.”
  4. Make it unique.  Your biography should reflect your personality and highlight your particular writing style.  Whether you write poetry, comedy or fantasy stories, look for ways to infuse your biography with personal flair.
  5. Keep it short.  Magazine editors and readers want biographies that are short, to the point, and entertaining.  They don’t want your life story, a list of every publication credit, or information better suited for a resume.  As a general rule, author biographies should be no more than three, tight sentences.

Your biography is your sales pitch.  It’s your one chance to capitalize on a sales opportunity and direct readers to your website or blog.  It may very well be one of the most important things that you will ever write.  Make it count!  This is your story – as with your book, the last thing you want your author biography to be is boring.

– Wolfgang Carstens

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