Marketing

How to write an author bio: A step-by-step guide for people with no experience

Written by
Jack Wells

As writers, you must nurture your imagination like athletes train their muscles. Even if you’re nota fiction writer, you still use imagination and strive for creativity.

So, could you imagine a story where 100 ordinary soldiers defeat an army of 100,000? It may sound like a tough task. But what if it’s not? This happens all the time.  Unsure what I’m talking about? Well, of course, I’m talking about the author bio.

Less than 100 words make a difference whether someone will read the other 100,000 you spent months crafting.

Why Your Author Bio is Important

Unless you’re J. K.Rowling, Steven King, or your last name is Obama (even he had a ghost writer),you need your author bio to be pristine, concise and rich.  

There are many reasons to go the extra mile when producing your bio: 

  • It establishes your authority. 
  • It’s a good way to introduce potential readers to your world.
  • Last chance to answer a key doubt that holds back your readers.

In the end, they all merge into one reason, that can be summed up in six words: 

IT HELPS YOU MAKE THE SALE.

Some people will buy your book because they know you or because you’ve been recommended. But the vast majority will stumble upon your book simply because your book is someone’s solution to a problem. As basic as that. Unfortunately, your solution is not the only one available out there.

What do the buyers do? Often, it’s the same three steps: 

  • First, they look at the cover, rating, and price.
  • If there isn’t enough information, they will start reading reviews.
  • If that’s still not enough, they will look at the author’s bio to help them decide between buying the book and moving on.

You must be ready for this. In this article, we’ll show you how to craft a killer author bio even if you have very little experience.

Step #1 – Establish Authority

The author's bio is often one or two paragraphs long and has no special formatting. Sometimes you will be able to write a longer description. But even then, only about 100 words will be visible on the book (product) page before the reader clicks ' see more'(or an equivalent of that).

In the short time you have, you must be precise with your message. And if there’s only one thing you can say, use it to establish your authority. Remember, the reader is still deciding whether to get your book. Authority simply explains why they should listen to you.

If you’re a NobelPrize winner, the bio will write itself. For the rest of us, the obvious choices are degrees, awards, and training. If there’s nothing spectacular you can list, focus on your experiences and education.

Here’s how Malcolm Gladwell’s author’s bio sounds:

Malcolm Gladwell has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1996. He is the author of The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, and What the DogSaw. Prior to joining The New Yorker, he was a reporter at the Washington Post. Gladwell was born in England and grew up in rural Ontario. He now lives in New York.

We’re not saying that it’s the best bio type for new authors. But note how Gladwell uses basic facts to boost his credibility. 

Which brings us to the next point.

Step #2 – Attach Yourself to Big Names

The author’s bio allows you the freedom to show off where otherwise it would be considered an unhealthy amount of bragging. Authors frequently list companies they worked with or are associated with. Just like Gladwell did in his bio.  

What you did, in this case, matters less than where you did it in or who you did it with - as long as the brand or the person is known to your audience.  

Simon Sinek’s author bio uses this technique (though his accomplishments certainly help, too.)

Simon Sinek is an optimist. He teaches leaders and organisations how to inspire people. From members of Congress to foreign ambassadors, from small businesses to corporations like Microsoft and 3M, from Hollywood to the Pentagon, he has presented his ideas about the power of why.
He has written two books, Leaders Eat Last and Start With Why and is quoted frequently by national publications. Sinek also regularly shares140 characters of inspiration on Twitter (@simonsinek).

A few additional questions that may help you: 

  • How long have you been studying the subject?
  • What jobs or situations gave you this hands-on experience?

Step #3 – A Pitch to the Reader

It’s important to emphasise your credibility and you should get it out of the way first. But then make sure there’s something for the readers as well.

Remember, your reader has not picked you yet as their next commute read. You still need to add a gentle pitch.

Let us explain.

When you talk about what you’ve done throughout your career, you’re preemptively answering why your readers should listen to you. But there’s another important question to answer:

How can you help?

You will answer this question by explaining the reason you wrote the book, ways your book has helped others, how it’s different from other publications in this niche, or how it can solve the reader’s problems.

Maybe something in a tune of Robert T. Kiyosaki’s author’s bio which sounds like this:

Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad Poor Dad - the international runaway bestseller that has held a top spot on the New York Times bestsellers list for over six years - is an investor, entrepreneur, and educator whose perspectives on money and investing fly in the face of conventional wisdom.
He has, virtually single-handedly, challenged and changed the way tens of millions, around the world, think about money. In communicating his point of view on why ‘old’ advice - get a good job, save money, get out of debt, invest for the long term, and diversify - is ‘bad’ (both obsolete and flawed) advice, Robert has earned a reputation for straight talk, irreverence, and courage.

Step #4 – Friendly Tone

Good news! We’re almost done. Now go over your bio. You should look for ways you can appear more friendly, relatable and approachable.

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.

But most importantly, make sure your message of authority doesn’t come off as lecturing. We are all equal in that we all know something that other people don’t.

Step #5 – Let it rest  

The last step in writing an author’s bio is editing. Hopefully, you’re not in a hurry because the process takes a few days. 

If you can, share the bio with your friends, family, and fellow authors. It’s not like everyone will come back with invaluable professional feedback. Most will just say ‘nice’ or ‘looks good’.

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

By then, all you need to do is sort through the feedback and adjust your bio.

  • Feedback from colleagues may remind you of important research or experience you were a part of.
  • Feedback from your family which will help you determine whether the message is clear enough.
  • And feedback from fellow authors who already had this to write their author’s bio.

Author bios are often hard because you’re forced to go against human nature by boasting about awards, memberships, and accomplishments. That’s why it is so important to get it right. Maybe you should look at our guide on writing a great book synopsis? Anyway, I hope this guide has cleared some of your questions and you’ll have easier time writing your bio.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form
More resources

Related articles

Writing
The 7 worst mistakes of self-publishers make
Read More
Editing
Editing on a budget for self-publishing writers
Read More
Design
How is the price of book cover design worked out?
Read More
Are You Ready?

Order your book cover

If you're ready to commission us with the design of your book cover,
please fill out our quick and easy design enquiry form.

GET STARTED