Writing a Punchy Author Bio or Blurb for Yourself to Pitch Your Work as a Writer

“Sadly for books in the current times there are more writers than readers, so it seems.”
― B.S. Murthy

“I’m not so arrogant to think I’m the only guide someone needs … but I might be the guide that someone needs.”
― Laura Anne Gilman

In this piece I will gather some good advice from a few web resources on Writing A Compelling Author Bio or Short Blurb to help you Pitch Your Work, to include with cover letters and such. Many publications ask for a brief bio, or a paragraph or two, and often with specific info they want included. We’ll go over what you should generally include to get the point across about what you’re all about as a writer, and include a couple of templates of varying lengths.

THE BINDERY has good advice on writing author bios.

WRITING A COMPELLING AUTHOR BIO

ALEXANDER FIELD – BOOK PROPOSALSPUBLISHINGQUERY LETTERWRITING TIPS

If you, my friend, are ready to present yourself to the world as an author, one of the first things you will have to do is write an Author Biography or author bio. Oftentimes, this is the first part of your proposal or pitch that an editor reads, so it must be gripping and cover the most important aspects of your credentials, writing experience, and platform.

It can be vulnerable and weird, and even kind of agonizing, to write about yourself and talk up your achievements or abilities. Authors have told me that it feels like they’re bragging. But you must do it. Your bio is an important part of your publishing career that you need to consider carefully.

When you start to think about your writing as a business as well as a craft, your author biography (in short and long forms) will help you establish your brand, your focus, and your voice as an author. Your bio will tell the world who you are, and more importantly, reveal the why behind your work.

In simple terms, your author bio is a paragraph or two of text that will eventually appear along with your book’s description and your photo on online product pages, the back cover of your book, or the inside back flap of the dust jacket.

However, long before you get to that point, you will have to create an author biography for your book proposal and/or pitch letter. If you or your agent are sharing it with editors and publishers, the bio in your proposal can be short, perhaps around 250 words or a bit longer if there is relevant experience or platform data to include. For query letters to literary agents, however, your bio should probably only be a couple sentences, at most.

As I mentioned above, these days the author bio is often one of the first pieces of information a book editor will review, especially for nonfiction projects. Why?

Due to the increased competition for attention and the sheer number of books published each year, editors need to make a strong case to their publishing teams for each book they acquire. Therefore, they will want to know what other writing you’ve done in the past, and also what experience or education gives you the credibility to write this particular book. Also, editors want to know how you’re already reaching people with your writing. This is often referred to as your author platform and can include social media followers, a podcast or blog, appearances or hosting duties on a popular radio or TV show, speaking at live events, a large email list, publishing articles through major outlets, leading an organization, and a number of other things.

Knowing how critical your author bio can be, here are 10 elements you should consider adding to your biography:

  1. Your Name and Current Job – List your name at the top and write about what you do for work, especially if it’s relevant to your writing career or the book you’re currently pitching.
  2. Education – If you have a degree or certification that is relevant to the book you’re writing, make sure and include it. If you’re writing a crime thriller, and you have a degree in criminology, add that information! Alternatively, if you’re writing a crafting book about basket weaving and you have a degree in history, it’s not as important to list.
  3. Experience and Credibility – Include any professional experiences or work history that may apply to either your ability to reach readers, or your credibility as the author of this particular book.
  4. Previous Writing – If you’ve published books before, include a list of them in your bio. Or if you’ve written published articles, columns, or essays, consider including them in your bio as well along with the magazine or publication where they appeared. The most recent books or articles are going to be much more relevant, so if your published works are more than ten years old, they may not warrant a mention.
  5. Awards or Honors – Feel free to include any relevant awards or honors you’ve received in your writing career thus far.
  6. Author Website and Platform Details – These days, it’s critical to have a home base online where potential readers can connect with you. Unlike social media profiles, you are the sole owner of your author website and therefore, it can evolve as your writing career develops. In addition, it indicates to publishers that you are serious about becoming a published author. Publishers and editors will also want to know how you’re reaching potential readers now, so include followers counts and engagement metrics from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and any other relevant social media platforms. If you have a dedicated email list, be sure and include those numbers as well.
  7. Personal Information – While it’s not absolutely necessary, many authors include a few details about their family, personal hobbies, and hometown in their author bios. For example: “John Smith lives on a farm in rural Iowa with his wife Jane, and sons Mike and Ike.” Don’t go overboard and don’t share details you’d be uncomfortable making public.
  8. Endorsers and Associations – Do you know any influential friends who might help you promote your book? This could include other authors, professors, journalists, colleagues, actors, podcast hosts, leaders, or others who’ve built large audiences. If so, consider including a brief list of these people who will help support your book launch. Also, think about including any associations, networks, groups, or organizations you’re a part of that are relevant to your book or will lend credibility for future promotional efforts.
  9. Social Media Links – If you’ve grown your followers on a particular social media channel to more than 20,000 or so, you should consider including your handle or profile name in your bio.
  10. Interesting Details – If you were attacked by a shark and lived to tell about it, and the book you’re writing is a memoir of that experience—then yes, you should mention it in your bio. But try to keep it focused and relevant.

READ MORE AT THE BINDERY

DEEP RIVER BOOKS Makes Some Great Arguments About the Finer Points of Writing an Author Blurb or Bio

Tone Matters

Before you even write the first word (and after you’ve decided on perspective), take a moment to consider tone. If you’ve written an academic appraisal of a current issue, you’ll want your bio to reflect that. If you’ve written a humorous short story collection, let that shine through. This is especially true for fiction authors, whose books may not have a specific “message” per say. Find a small tidbit that speaks to your personality or hobbies, but don’t run wild. A quick phrase is enough, often mixed together with professional accomplishments, as we see in this biography by Kevan Lee.

It’s Not Actually “About You”

Oddly enough, your “about you” blurb is not about “you” at all. It is entirely about your reader. What is important to your target audience? What might they connect with? This is your chance to tell them about your qualifications, why they should trust you, or pick up your work. Establish your credibility. If you’ve written a book about children, don’t hide the fact that you’re a child psychologist. If you’ve written a fiction novel about a character going through rough circumstances, mention what first-hand experience you bring.

Accentuate the Positive

Yes, we know that writers are a humble bunch. But your own bio is no time to be demure! If you published before, include the titles. If you received a pertinent award or recognized by a group that would appeal to your readers, let the world know. Obviously, don’t go over overboard. People probably don’t care that you got first place in a clarinet competition in college (unless, of course, your book concerns clarinets), but they probably would care if the Wounded Warrior Project endorsed your book concerning veterans issues.

Call to Action!

The last sentence in your biography, especially for social media platforms, should include a “call to action” or “CTA.” Try  something like “Follow me on Twitter @yourhandle.” Or relate your CTA to your view of life like “spread God’s love.” This is a wonderful moment to connect with you reader on a “mission” level, or to get them engaged with you. Depending on the venue, this may be a good time to mention that your book is on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, especially if whatever article you’ve written doesn’t directly mention that you are an author beforehand.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE ON DEEP RIVER BOOKS

TEMPLATES

  • REPLACE EACH CONTENT PROMPT WITH A SENTENCE UNTIL YOU HAVE A PARAGRAPH THAT DESCRIBES YOU AND YOUR WRITING CURRENTLY, WHICH YOU CAN PRESENT AS AN ENCAPSULATION
  • Name and Current Job___________________________________________________________
    Education__________________________________________________________________
    Experience and Credibility________________________________________________________
    Previous Writing_________________________________________________________________
    Awards or Honors________________________________________________________________
    Author Website and Platform Details_____________________________________________
    Personal Information____________________________________________________________
    Endorsers and Associations______________________________________________________
    Social Media Links_______________________________________________________________
    Interesting Details________________________________________________________________

TRY TO CREATE A COUPLE VERSIONS OF THIS FORMULA OF DIFFERING LENGTHS

MOST BIOS ARE UNDER 300 WORDS

  • OFTEN WHEN YOU GET PUBLISHED, EDITORS WILL ASK FOR A PARAGRAPH TO ACCOMPANY YOUR PIECE THAT TELLS READERS WHAT YOU ARE ALL ABOUT. THIS USUALLY INCLUDES
  • Name ____________________________________________________________________________
  • Previous Writing_________________________________________________________________
    Awards or Honors________________________________________________________________
    Author Website and Platform Details_____________________________________________
  • Social Media Links_______________________________________________________________
    And may be heavy on the  – 
  • Interesting Details________________________________________________________________
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