Friday, October 16, 2015

How Do I Write My Author Bio?

Like the summary paragraph for your novel, constructing your personal bio can seem like a daunting task. It becomes easier when you know what aspects of your life you need to focus on to write a dazzling and convincing author bio.

Should I Write My Author Bio in First or Third Person

According to Rebecca Pratt, "The bio is always written in third person. First person being considered too self-serving."

How Long Should My Author Bio Be?

Your author bio can vary in length, depending upon its purpose, whether it's for a book jacket, an author page, a literary agency website, or as part of your materials literary agents send to prospective publishers.

The rule of thumb is no more than two or three paragraphs. Most of the author bios on the Rebecca Pratt Literary Group's site weigh in between 100 words and 260 words.

Focal Points for Your Author Bio

While many authors struggle with the marketing and sales aspect of their career, everything you put out to the public needs to be constructed with this in mind, including your author bio.

Think of your author bio as a way to market yourself as an author, not only to the public, but also to your potential publisher.

What You've Done

Think in terms of what is relevant to your writing career to get the "meat" of it down.

In about three or four sentences, explain your professional writing experience.

Some people want you to explain your paid writing experience. However, if your novel is one of your first writing ventures, and you have managed to write for online publications for free, whether it's nonfiction work or fiction publications, you can include them in your author bio.

Every writing experience is relevant. A lot of publications don't pay their writers or don't pay them well, but if you have the chance to work hand-in-hand with an editor at the publication and this experience has helped you learn more about writing, it's worthwhile to include it as part of your author bio.

What If I Don't Have Any Professional Writing Experience?

Literary agents like to see authors with writing experience. If you have nonfiction writing experience and you're extending into fiction, include your nonfiction experience, and visa-versa.

If you don't have much writing experience to include, focus upon one of the questions we pose to every author who solicits our agency:
  • Who are you, what have you done, and why are you the best person to write your story (especially for nonfiction authors)?
If you're writing a nonfiction book, what are your qualifications for the subject you are covering? You will want to give the reader an idea of your qualifications of covering the subject matter in your book.
Related experience is also good to include. For example, if you work in a publishing house or as a publicist and you have decided to write a book, you can include this.

Even your passion for a subject can be good information for your bio if you don't have prior writing credits to list. If you have read thousands of books on making coffee tables, for instance, and have created hundreds of coffee tables, this can establish you as a great person to write a book on making coffee tables.

If you have had a full career as an airline pilot, or if you made tools for Sears for a living, and no writing credentials, include this experience in a sentence or two. It gives your readers and your potential publishers a sense of who you are and what you've been doing.

Start a Blog

Writing a blog is a great way to break into the business, especially if you manage to build your following over time. Starting a blog increases your writing experience and enables you to build your email list, an attractive addition to your marketing plan.

Keep in mind that your author bio will evolve as your writing experience evolves, so even if you don't have any writing experience at the moment, spend a year or two acquiring some, and you will have some to list.

What You've Got Now

Remember your present project in your author bio and any successes garnered so far. For instance, have excerpts of the novel been published anywhere?

A Little About You

And when I say a little, I mean a little. Maybe a sentence or two at the end is good.

Anything quirky or interesting helps in this regard, especially if you don't have a lot of writing experience to share. It will help you stand out in a sea of authors.

This information might be a little more if this is your first novel and if you don't have years of experience to share with your readers and potential publishers.

Where to Find Examples

The Rebecca Pratt Literary Group is a great place to start to find outstanding examples of author bios. Click on the names of our authors and read their bios.

You can also find your favorite authors on Most authors have an author page. When you are on a web page featuring your favorite author's book, click on their name and read their paragraph of themselves on the left hand side.

Do this also for authors who are up and coming and compare them to the bios of established authors. It's a great way to study what author bios should contain at varying levels of writing careers. For example, James Patterson's author's page on is vastly different from an up and coming author's page, such as Peter Flannery.

If you visit these pages, you can see that James Patterson could most likely write ten pages about his author accomplishments, but only shares a few key points, while Peter Flannery includes more information about himself and how he became an author. At the end of his paragraph, Peter Flannery does provide a great zinger in terms of his recent writing accomplishments and his book's success.

Your Author Bio: Your Best Representation of Who You Are

It's important that you are comfortable and happy with your author bio. Concentrating on the relevant information (who are you, what have you done, and what makes you the best person to write your book), will help guide you in your process.