How to write an author bio as a new writer

➡️  Your author bio is your calling card. A strong author bio establishes your authority, introduces readers to your background, and helps convince them to buy your book.

➡️  An author bio is usually no longer than 100 words, so keep it short and simple. Include your location, relevant experience, and key themes in your work.

➡️  Avoid common mistakes when writing your author bio. Write in the third person, keep it succinct, and don’t be afraid to brag about your achievements.

As a writer, your author bio is one of the most important passages you’ll ever write. A well-written bio can make or break the sale of your book - whether you’re pitching it to an agent, a publisher, or a reader. As a result, it’s vital that you know how to write one, especially if you don’t have a whole lot of experience yet.

Author bios are typically no longer than 100 words - so every character counts. In this guide, we’ll answer some of the most commonly asked questions about author bios, helping you get a handle on this tricky but vital task.

Why your author bio is important

Your bio is your calling card. Whether you’re self-publishing or heading down the traditional publishing route, readers and agents alike want to know about you and your background - so it’s incredibly important to deliver the information in a way that makes them want to read your writing.

Some people will buy your book because they know you, or because you’ve been recommended to them. But most readers don’t seek out books by first-time novelists - so it’s important that you do everything you can to sell your book.

That’s where your author bio comes in. There are three key reasons why it’s so important to have one that stays with people:

  1. A strong author bio establishes your authority. If your book is about a young soldier enduring his first military tour, and you spent a number of years serving in the army, readers will automatically give your book more credibility. If you’ve had short stories published in a range of publications, you’ll give an agent confidence that there’s a market for your work.
  2. Introduce potential readers to your background. Many readers love reading books that offer a new perspective, so this is your chance to tell them who you are, and why they’ll be interested in hearing what you have to say. Talk with pride about your culture, work history, and personal achievements.
  3. Convince people to buy your book. Along with your book blurb and quotes from reviews, your author bio should persuade people to read your book. It’s not the place to go for a hard sell, but it should be persuasive and powerful enough to convince readers to choose your book.

Your bio is a cog in a much larger wheel. Readers will look at your book cover, reviews, price, and length as well as your author bio - but the more of these you can make compelling and convincing, the more likely it is that readers will choose your book.

What should an author bio include?

Since you only have 100 words to make an impression in your author bio, you need to stay on track. Here are the key components every author should include in their bio.

  • Where you’re from and where you live. People connect with local authors, so be proud of your hometown and your adopted city (if they’re different).
  • Relevant personal background information. This can be cultural, geographical, or personal. Really, any information that is relevant to your book and your story.
  • The themes you love to write about. This helps readers make an informed decision about the books they buy, and enables you to build a loyal readership when you deliver on your promise.
  • Relevant qualifications or experience. This isn’t your CV, so don’t list everything. But if you’ve worked at magazines or publishing houses, this can be crucial information that validates you as a writer.
  • Any awards you’ve won or publications you’ve been featured in. Authors with little or no experience may not have these (yet!), but if you do, your bio is a great place to feature them.

Before you start writing your author bio, make a list of everything you could include, using the above points as a guide. Not everything will make the cut, but it’s helpful to have this list to hand when you’re structuring and writing your author bio.

How to write an author bio for an agent

Now you know the purpose of your author bio, and what should be included, you can do what you do best - write it.

Before you start, here are some common mistakes new authors make:

  • Writing in first person. An author bio written in first person is less authoritative than a third person bio. Writing about yourself in the third person does feel a little strange at first, but this is the standard format, so make sure you follow this to the letter.
  • Being too modest. A lot of writers are introverts, so boasting about their achievements doesn’t come naturally. But if your author bio is going to be part of your sales pitch, it needs to be convincing - so take off your humility hat and write with confidence.
  • Writing too much. Inexperienced writers are liable to compensate for their lack of experience by writing more. This is usually a telltale sign that you’re lacking confidence, so make sure your author bio is concise.

5 steps to writing a killer author bio

Ready to write the perfect author bio? Let’s get started.

1. Write an introductory byline

The first line of your author bio is the first thing your readers will learn about you - so make it count.  Use the most important, relevant facts that agents and readers will care about most - including the name of your new book.

As an example, here is the author bio of debut novelist Paul Mendez:

Paul Mendez was born in Dudley. He began writing in 2002, and has contributed to the Times Literary Supplement and the Brixton Review Of Books. He lives in London, and Rainbow Milk is his first novel.

For new authors, personal information like the above acts as a point of connection between you and a potential reader. The takeaway here is to make sure your readers know enough about your background to read on and find out more.

If you have any awards or previous publications, this is a great place to include them. But if you haven’t, don’t be disheartened. Your author bio will evolve as you publish more work, so don’t worry if you don’t have lots of publications or awards you can include at this stage.

2. Establish your authority

Now you’ve captured your readers’ attention in the opening line, it’s time to show them that you’re the real deal.

The next couple of sentences should deliver a concise explanation of your credibility - both as an author, and on the subject of your book. Remember, the reader is still deciding whether to buy your book - so you need to explain why they should listen to you.

If you’re a Nobel Prize winner, this part of the bio will write itself. For the rest of us, the obvious things to highlight are degrees, awards, and training. If you have a lot of experience, focus on the most relevant information. If there’s nothing spectacular you can list, focus on your experiences and education.

Kevin Kwan, the author of the blockbuster book Crazy Rich Asians, uses a very simple author bio in his debut novel.

Kevin Kwan was born and raised in Singapore. He currently lives in Manhattan. Crazy Rich Asians is his first novel.

It doesn’t matter that Kwan didn’t have lots of accolades or publications at the time of publishing; the basic fact of growing up in Singapore establishes Kwan as an authority on the affluent Asian community.

3. Outline your themes and style

For new authors, it’s important to acknowledge and emphasise your credibility - but once you’ve done this, readers will also want to know what to expect from your novel.

This final section is where you’ll outline the themes and style of your writing. Is it funny? Sad? Political? Historical? Does it draw on themes of love, or war, or vengeance? Telling the reader what kind of writing you specialise in can add serious power to your pitch, and help draw in readers who are looking for books in your specialist genre.

Prolific author Joanna Trollope’s author bio begins:

Author of eagerly awaited and sparklingly readable novels often centred around the domestic nuances and dilemmas of life in contemporary England, Joanna Trollope is also the author of a number of historical novels and of Britannia’s Daughters, a study of women in the British Empire.

This sentence tells the reader what they can expect when they pick up one of Trollope’s books - meaning she’s more likely to connect with people who enjoy reading other, similar material.

4. Make it relatable, friendly and concise

Authority crops up again and again in author bios - but while your content should be authoritative, your tone should remain convivial and relatable.

Now you have an initial draft of your author bio, read back through it and check the tone. If it seems swaggering or unfriendly, try to make the tone of your author bio a little more personable and matter-of-fact.

Here’s an extract from Eva Ibbotson’s author bio, demonstrating her trademark charisma and relatability:

Eva Ibbotson was born in Vienna, but when the Nazis came to power her family fled to England and she was sent to boarding school. She planned to become a physiologist, but hated doing experiments on animals, and was rescued by some fierce rabbits by her husband-to-be.

If you can pull it off, some wry humour is a great way to ingratiate yourself with potential readers - especially if your book falls somewhere in the comedy genre.

This step is also an opportunity to make sure your author bio is the perfect length, and trim any unwieldy adverbs or overlong sentences.

Tip: Many authors will use this space to add a link to their website or a Twitter handle. In this case, even if the reader doesn't end up buying your book, you’ll still get an opportunity to connect with them and, hopefully, be able to cultivate a further relationship.

5. Let it rest

The last step in writing an author’s bio is editing. Like your story manuscript, the best writing is allowed to breathe before you go back over it to create the final draft. Ideally, this process should take at least a few days.

In the meantime, share your author bio with your friends, family, and fellow authors. If you’ve shared your work with other people before, you’ll know that not everyone will come back with invaluable professional feedback. Most will just say ‘nice’ or ‘looks good’.

But, ideally, you should get three kinds of feedback.

  1. Feedback from colleagues. Your colleagues might remember key professional achievements you were a part of, which should be included in your author bio.
  2. Feedback from your family. This will help you determine whether the message is clear enough, and help you gauge the tone of your writing.
  3. Feedback from fellow authors. Lots of other people have been through the torment of penning their own author bio. They may be able to share feedback they’ve had from editors and agents that could help you with your author bio.

Some feedback is more valuable than others, so don’t feel obliged to use the feedback you receive if you don’t feel it will add value to your bio. As long as you include all the relevant information, establish yourself as a credible author, and maintain a professional, friendly tone, you’re sure to be on the right track.

Where does the author bio go in a book?

Different publishers have different approaches to where they print the author bio. For hardback books, the bio is often found on the dust jacket towards the end of the book. Paperbacks, meanwhile, usually include the author bio at the front of the book, before the publishing information. Occasionally, the author bio can be found on the back page of a paperback, or after the publishing information and before the introduction.

For more inspiration, you can check out the Penguin Random House authors page. You can see the bios of every author publishing with them.

If you’re self-publishing, or your book will be issued in ebook format, your author bio is likely to be a lot more visible. It often features on the product page for your book, as well as towards the front of the book itself. As a result, self-publishing authors need to write a particularly compelling bio.

There are no hard and fast rules about where your author bio should go, but by following these conventions, you’ll make it easy for potential readers to find and read your author bio before they buy.

Author bios are one of the most difficult things for lots of authors to write. Not only are there stringent form and content rules, but you’re forced to go against human nature by boasting about your awards, experience, and accomplishments. If you're looking for more tips on writing, you should check out our guide on chapters where we explain how long they should be and provide examples of popular books! 

But if you can write a great bio, it can really separate you from the bunch, whether you’re self-publishing or pitching to agents.

For more useful resources on self-publishing and writing a novel, take a look at our author advice hub.

Advice from a published writer

Alex Fisher, "Seadogs and Criminals"

You don’t need to write much for an author bio. Keep it short and sweet, just enough so that the reader gets the idea of who you are and can imagine who it is that has created this story they’ve just followed. Just a vague location of where you live (a county or country), who you live with, your job, and a few hobbies will do.

Achievements and qualifications can also be added but these don’t matter too much. You don’t have to be qualified to be a great writer; you just need experience and passion.

This article is always evolving and being updated regularly by our expert writers. Information featured in it has been fact-checked and verified.
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