When creating a short story, poem, novel, or memoir, most authors don’t realize there’s something else they’ll need to write that’s almost as important: an author bio. The strategists at Writer’s Relief know that submissions to literary agents and journals usually require an author biography. When your work is published, your author bio is often featured on the book cover or in the pages of the literary journal. While your biographical information helps existing fans recognize you and learn more about you and your writing, it should also intrigue readers who are unfamiliar with your work. Here’s how to write an author bio that will attract new readers and build your fan base.
Write An Author Bio That Will Attract Readers
Before you write your biography bio, you’ll need to determine how long it should be, what tone you should use, and what might be considered TMI (too much information). For undecided readers, your author bio could be what convinces them to read your work (or buy your book!).
Author Bio Checklist
Basic elements for your author bio:
- Your pronouns (if you’re comfortable sharing them)
- Publication credits (Don’t worry if you don’t have any yet!)
- Profession and education
- Relevant expertise or experience on your topic (for book authors)
- Writer groups you attend
- Writing awards or honors you’ve won
How To Optimize Your Author Bio
In your query or cover letter. For your query or cover letter, you’ll use all the basic elements listed above—but keep it brief. Your cover letter or query letter author bio should be short and sweet; no more than a paragraph long. If space allows, you can add an appropriate fun fact about yourself, such as a favorite travel destination or an interesting talent (like a sport or instrument you play). Adding a personal note helps editors and agents connect with you as an individual, but don’t overshare.
For a cover letter, your bio can be in first or third person. In a query letter, you should stick to first person for your author bio.
For your author website. Your author website offers you the opportunity to provide more in-depth biographical information—in fact, you can dedicate a whole page of your website to telling readers more about you! Along with the basic information you’d mention in a letter bio, you can include more background information about your education, career, and anything else that makes you uniquely qualified to write what you write. You can also tell readers a bit about where you live and your family without giving away details that would compromise your security. And mentioning your hobbies and interests will help website visitors connect more with you and your writing.
You can craft a bio for your author website that also reflects your writing style. For example, if your writing is light and comedic, feel free to crack a joke or two in your bio. Or, if you write lyrical, thought-provoking poetry, you can lean into your descriptive writing in your bio as well.
On your social media profiles. Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and other social media platforms require user bios, but often have restrictive character limits. Use your basic author bio as a starting point, then ask yourself: What’s most important for potential readers to know at a glance? Be sure to mention the genre you write in, plus any key publication credits. You can link to your author website so visitors know where to find more details.
In literary journal publications. When you receive an acceptance from a literary journal, the editor may ask for an author bio to post on the journal’s website or to publish in the print journal. While you can use the same biography you created for your cover letter, some journals may give you a word count limit and request that you shorten your author bio. You won’t have to chisel it down as much as you would for social media, but ask yourself if there’s anything in your bio that you can cut or combine.
On bookselling sites. A pared-down version of your author bio is most useful for selling books on virtual bookstores like Amazon. But don’t remove the good stuff! Mentioning awards, publications, and your expertise in the subject matter will establish credibility and help convince the reader to click the Buy button.
Once you’ve written the best author bio, don’t let it stagnate. It’s important to keep updating your bio as you gain new publications, awards, and interesting life experiences. Follow the checklist to create a basic biography, then tailor the information to suit the various places you’ll use it. By keeping your bio up to date and interesting, you’ll forge a stronger connection with your existing audience while catching the attention of new readers.
Question: What information do you consider most important in an author bio?