Your Bio forms a bond between you and your reader (Part 4 of the #SelfPublishing series)
In the last three posts, we have discussed about the myths of self publishing that most seem to have and how to bust them, then how to design professionally looking and aesthetically pleasing covers for your books and how to write effective blurbs that compel your reader to buy your book. In this post, we will tap on the next feature your book should have — the Author Bio.
Author Bio is an important yet often overlooked element of your book. It appears both in your book and also on the pages of your website, your blog and the websites you sell your book on like Amazon, Smashwords, Lulu and many more. It should talk about you, but more importantly, it should form a bond between you and your reader.
In this post, we strip the Author Bio to its most basic and most important meaning -- showing the reader who we are as a person. Ideally, you need to talk about the experiences you had and how you look at life. This should be in line with the kind of book you have written.
You’d need 3 versions of your Author Bio.
First line is very important in your Author Bio. It should grab the interest of your reader. It should take a natural flow from there and make it easier for your reader to empathise with you. It should establish you as a trusted and interesting writer. It should make your reader think that this book written by you would definitely be as interesting, and even more, as your bio is. You should never write a bio just for the sake of it. Your bio plays a much more important role than you might think.
How long should my bio be
How long should your Author Bio be? It depends on what you are writing it for. To publish it inside your book or on the back cover of your book, it needs to be concise. One paragraph. 100-150 words tops. If you're writing for websites like Amazon or Smashwords, you can be a little generous and add upto 50 more words.
Beware: If you're writing Author Bio on the back cover, you should leave more than enough space for the blurb and other things (you should never write your Author’s Bio on the back cover of your books. It is explained why in the last section of this post).
Which point-of-view or narration voice should I use
If you’re writing a long Author Bio, it’s advisable to use third person narration. Instead of I, me and myselfIt also makes it easy for your readers to read long bios.It also makes it easy for your readers to read long bios., use your name and third-person pronouns (Use your name much more than pronouns though). The reason a third person approach works better in most of the cases is because your reader will subconsciously feel that your bio is trustworthy. It also makes it easy for your readers to read long bios. If it is in first person, they may feel it’s self-indulgent and amateurish.
The only exception is if you’re going for a personal connection with your readers. When written carefully, Author Bios written in first person are great. But it should be carefully chosen when to write Author Bios in first person because they fit with certain kinds of books, especially if it's a nonfiction and experiences you had or such story which is close to you, related to your life and you want to share with your readers.
The burning question…photo or no photo
A professional photo for the Author Bio is more important than you can think of. Of course no one is going to recognise your picture when you are publishing your first book but it is important to give a personal human touch to your Author Bio. It helps your reader picture you while writing and also establishes a sense of credibility. But again, poorly taken pictures will have an opposite effect on your reader. That photo of you standing in the party with a beer, that doesn't go into your book. Look at the pictures of some of your favourite writers in their books and decide how your's will look in your book.
What to include in my Author’s Bio
If you have awards/certificates/accolades for anything related to your book, you have to not only mention that but highlight that. If you’re writing a fiction novel in which your hero is an investigative journalist (remember The Millennium series?) and you have a background in journalism or you have won an award for that, brag about it (yes, bragging is not bad and in fact it could be advantageous for you and your book if done in the right way).
But don’t brag if that’s not your cup of tea. It might come off as rude. If you are a humble person, let it shine through your bio. Humility is one of the greatest virtues an author can have.
If you are a member of organisations such as ACFW, mention it. If your education is relevant to your book, talk about it. If you’re writing a psychological thriller and you have a PhD in psychology, your reader would trust you more. If you have degree in medicine and you are writing a story of a doctor, then note it. Same goes with your career. If you are a teacher and you are writing a children’s book, then note it. But if you are a car salesman, then don’t.
Mention your previous works that are related to your book. It IS okay to mention that you have previously written poetry in the Author Bio of your fiction novel if you are an indie writer and this is your first fiction book. But if you have already published a fiction work before, then mention that one instead of your poetry work.
Mention your hometown and the place you live in, if it’s a different one. Your local people will identify you and this detail can help you in marketing or approaching local press or media. It also helps readers from elsewhere to picture you in your own habitat.
Include Call-To-Action at the end of the Author Bio. This can be inviting your readers to your website or to explore other books you have written. Or this can be inviting them to connect with you on social media. This is also the right place to remind your readers to write a review for your book on the website they have purchased it from; encourage your readers to share a review and help other readers enjoy your book.
Do mention your website address at the end of your bio. You can even mention links to your social media networks in an ebook. The more ways you offer your reader to know more about you and connect with you, the better.
Be sure to keep on updating your bio. You might get new awards or launch more books. You might even get new certifications related to your book's topic. An Author Bio should always be evolving. You need to reflect the current you in your bio.
Note to soloprenuers and freelancers: Your book would probably be related to your work. You need to highlight the kind of work you do or services you provide, how they help your clients and what your clients say about you. You need to tie this in with what the book is about, why you decided to write it and how the reader will benefit from reading your book. Highlighting your skills, experiences and your expertise in the topic you discuss in the book will add much more advantage to your book.
Don’t write one-liners.
Seriously! Unless you’re someone whose name stays in your readers’ mind and they can immediately picture your previous works. But if you are an indie writer, however effective you think you made your one-liner sound like, don't go there. Keeping it brief is nice. But don’t keep it too brief that there’s literally no information in it.
Busting the Myths of Self Publishing (Part 1 of the #SelfPublishing series)
5 Steps To Designing Your Book Cover (Part 2 of the #SelfPublishing series)
How To Write Book Blurbs (Part 3 of the #SelfPublishing series)
This is an excerpt from the chapter Writing The Author Bios from my upcoming book Your Guide To Self-Publishing. In the original chapter, I discuss in depth about writing Author Bios for books to compete with those published by traditional publishing houses. We look at different first- and third-person narratives and which one to choose when. We will look at more examples and go through a simple framework to write your best Author Bio for any platform.
Choosing The Right Platform To Publish Your Book - Different Options Out There And What's Best For You (Part 5 of #SelfPublishing series) — next post in series. Subscribe below to get notified when it goes live.