Three Types of Author Bios
by Richard Ridley
Letís dig a little deeper into the three types of author bios.
Each has equal merit, but some are better fits for newer authors as
opposed to established authors, some work well for authors of
professional materials, while still others work better for authors
of fiction. After reading the below examples, you may find that your
brand doesn't fall neatly into one of these categories. In that
case, you could even combine elements of each bio type and create a
bio that is the perfect fit for your situation.
Types of Author Bios
The Expert Author:
As discussed in the previous article, credentials are vital elements
of the nonfiction category, but that doesn't mean they are
off-limits in the fiction world. I previously gave an example of
someone with a law enforcement background writing a mystery novel.
Authors who write children's books could also benefit from listing
relevant credentials, like a degree in education, in their author
bios. This could apply to other genres as well. The main idea is
that the credentials that take up valuable bio word count should be
There are two types of
credentials an author can bring to the table: professional and
Professional credentials are fairly self-evident. If you are a
CPA and you've written a book about how to reduce your personal
tax burden, listing your credentials is imperative. However, if
you are a CPA and you've written a book about how to fish, then
your professional credentials are irrelevant. However, your
personal credentials may come in handy in that case. Here's an
example using professional credentials:
author of the
New York Times
is a developmental molecular biologist and research consultant. He
is an affiliate Professor of Bioengineering at the University of
Washington School of Medicine. He also is the director of the Brain
Center for Applied Learning Research at Seattle Pacific University.
Personal credentials are those you earn through life experience.
Taking the fishing example, if you've fished for 20 years, won a
few amateur tournaments, or even own a state fishing record or
two, that's certainly information you're going to want to
include in your bio for the fishing book. Same goes if you've
written a book on parenting or gardening or woodwork, etc. Your
personal credentials are imperative pieces of information for
your bio because they tell why you are uniquely qualified to pen
a book on a particular topic. If your professional credentials
aren't associated with the topic of your book, you'll most
likely include those more or less as an aside. Here's an example
using personal credentials:
Edward C. Smith
is the bestselling author of
The Vegetable Gardener's Bible.
For the last 31 years, he and his wife Sylvia have lived off the
grid in Vermont, in a house they built on land they cleared by hand.
Together, they grow more than 100 varieties of vegetables, fruits,
and herbs in their 2,000 square feet of gardens and containers
The Quality Author:
Good writing sells books. If you are fortunate enough to
win an award
for your writing, it would behoove you to include that information
in your bio, even if the award was years ago for a book in a
completely different genre or category. It shows a level of
excellence that you want potential readers to know you possess. A
commitment to writing can also help you sell books. If you've
published a number of titles, that shows a commitment to your craft.
Past awards are relevant in that they show you have a history of
high-quality writing. Some authors may feel that an award won 20
years ago isn't impressive. It is. Don't shy away from including
it. Carry that achievement with you through every updated
version of your bio. Example:
is the author of the novels
A Home at the End of
Flesh and Blood,
(winner of the Pen/Faulkner Award and the Pulitzer Prize), and
He lives in New York.
A catalogue of past books to your credit also gives the
impression of quality. A publishing record gives you a gravitas
that you should take advantage of by giving an example of it in
your bio. Here's an example:
is the author of ten novels available in eight languages, including
the highly acclaimed Jack Sigler thrillers,
He is also the writer and illustrator of
The Ninjaís Path
(coming in 2011 from Lyons Press), a humorous inspirational for
ninjas, written under the pen name Kutyuso Deep. He is the chairman
and founder of New Hampshire AuthorFest, a non-profit organization
promoting and supporting literacy in New Hampshire, where he lives
with his wife and three children.
The Debut Author:
Announcing that you are a first-time author is a risky move. You're
asking the reader to take a chance that you're worth the risk even
though you have no track record to back it up. In most cases, I
would advise against labeling yourself a "debut" author. The only
exception would be if you have a background in journalism where
you've received accolades for your writing, or if the book you are
publishing has gotten some pre-publication buzz. Example.
Sara J. Henry
has been a columnist, health writer, soil scientist, book and
magazine editor, web designer, writing instructor, and bicycle
mechanic. She's from Tennessee and lives on a dirt road in Vermont
with at least one too many dogs.
to Swim, her first
novel, has been called "an auspicious debut" by Daniel Woodrell (Winterís
"emotional, intense, and engrossing" by Lisa Unger. Watch for the
sequel in 2012.
In writing your author bio, remember: it is your calling card.
It will travel with you on your books, online retail sites, social
media, at personal appearances, and wherever you are trying to
introduce yourself to readers. It is a major component of your
brand, so spend some real time developing it. Give it as much
consideration as you did writing the
in your book. After all, it could propel readers to take action and
purchase your book.
One last thing to keep in mind: you'll notice in the samples
provided there is very little hyperbole or spin. They are
straightforward descriptions. Awards, previous publications, and
experience are all listed without a lot of unnecessary adjectives.
There is a certain amount of dignity expected when it comes to
author bios, so make your case briefly and simply. If it's done
correctly, you'll only have to make minor adjustments to it over the
years to reflect the publishing successes that are in your future.
Richard Ridley has
been a writer for more than 20 years. He is the author of the IPPY
Award-winning young adult series
The Oz Chronicles.
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