Three Types of Author Bios

by Richard Ridley

Let’s 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 berelevant.

There are two types of credentials an author can bring to the table: professional and personal.

  • 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:

  • John Medina, author of the New York Times bestseller Brain Rules, 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:

Micheal Cunningham is the author of the novels A Home at the End of the WorldFlesh and BloodThe Hours (winner of the Pen/Faulkner Award and the Pulitzer Prize), and Specimen Days. 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:

Jeremy Robinson is the author of ten novels available in eight languages, including the highly acclaimed Jack Sigler thrillers, Pulse, Instinct and Threshold. He is also the writer and illustrator of The Ninja’s 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. Learning to Swim, her first novel, has been called "an auspicious debut" by Daniel Woodrell (Winter’s Bone) and "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 inciting incident 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.

This article originally appeared on For more helpful articles and blogs for authors, visit CreateSpace Resources. . Reprinted with permission. © 2011 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.

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