How to Write an Author Bio
You’ve written a book that’s about to be published or an article that’s going live online. Congratulations! But although this is a big accomplishment, your job isn’t done: You also need to write a short author biography — otherwise known as an author bio– so your readers can get to know you.
An author bio shares information about your education and experience. This proves your credibility, showing that you know what you’re talking about. It also allows your readers to connect with you as a person.
Crafting your own bio can sometimes be a difficult task. These author biographies need to be short, yet engaging, so it can be hard to know what to include. After all, your bio may be one of the first things potential readers see when they pick up and open your book.
This blog post breaks down how to write an author bio and what to say in your short bio to connect best with your readers.
Author Bios: What They Include and Why to Write One
An author bio is a short paragraph that shares information about you, such as your education, your experience, and your personal life. Author bios are usually placed next to a professional photo or headshot of the author to further help humanize you, the writer.
While there’s no set word count on a bio, you’ll want to keep things short — think a paragraph or two.
The goal of an author bio is to provide a brief background about you, the author, and to show why you were qualified to write your book or article in order.
Essentially, an author bio gives you credibility with your many readers and allows you to connect with potential readers and encourage them to read more of your work.
For example, when you describe your past education, work experience, and your skills in your author bio, you’re proving that you know what you’re talking about and that you are an expert in your field.
Another benefit of a well-written, short bio is that it humanizes you. Your bio should add personality and communicate to your readers who you are as a person.
For example, your author bio may include a sentence about how many books you’ve written in the past. Then, you may add another sentence about why you began writing in the first place. Finally, you might share a bit about your family, passions outside of writing, and any formal education, awards, or certifications you’ve achieved in your writing career, like once being named a New York Times Bestselling Author.
You don’t have to be a master of creative writing in order to craft a well-written bio. The goal of your author bio should simply be to convince readers that you’re more than just an author or some faceless person who wrote an online article — you’re a person.
Who Needs an Author Bio?
The short answer: Every writer!
You might think author bios are only for authors — people who write novels or nonfiction books.
Whether you’ve written ten books or this is your first novel or piece of written work, you should at least have a generic bio that explains to your prospective readers a little more about who you are.
But the truth is, you don’t have to be a bestselling author to have a well-written author bio. Almost everyone who wants to publish their writing will need an author bio at some point.
This is true if you write blog posts, poetry, science fiction, short stories, thought leadership articles, or just about anything else.
There are only a couple of exceptions to this rule. The first is ghostwriting. As the name suggests, ghostwriters are anonymous writers who don’t get credit for their work.
A ghostwriter writes a work for the author. The author’s name is the only one on the cover of the book even though they didn’t actually write it.
If you are a ghostwriter, you will not get your own author bio.
Second, some writers may want to remain anonymous, using a pen name or no name at all.
You might choose to use a pseudonym if you don’t want your boss at your day job to know about your writing; if you’re writing something that is controversial; or if your name is common and there are other authors out there with the same name.
If you use a pen name, you may or may not have an author bio. That choice is up to you.
When to Write Your Author Bio
You should write your author bio after you write the meat of your book. It can take a long time to write a book — months or even years.
The information that you’ll put in your author bio (such as your career details or where you live) could change during that time.
So don’t write your author bio too soon.
This is something you can leave until the end of the process of publishing a book.
However, if you’re feeling stuck with your book and you need to focus on something else, this could also be a good time to write your author bio.
It can be helpful to flex your writing muscles with something different.
Then you can jump back into your book or another writing project with a fresh perspective.
How to Write an Author Bio
Many people hate talking about themselves and find author bios difficult to write. Sometimes we also struggle with bios because they’re so short.
Often, the shorter something is, the harder we think it is to write. For instance, how long did it take you to write your book title?
Because of this, some authors outsource the writing of their bio to a freelance writer or work with a creative consultant so they can focus on moving on with the publishing process.
However, self-publishing authors and those who prefer to control the writing process don’t necessarily need a freelance writer to whip up a killer author bio.
If you know the general formula for how to use your best writing and craft a full bio, creating your own bio isn’t as daunting of a task as you may think. Take a look at these tips to help you write a good author bio.
Write in the Third Person
Typically, author bios are written in the third person, not the first person, point of view. You want your bio to sound like someone else wrote it about you.
Don’t use “I” — just use your name and last name. For example, instead of saying:
“I’m an author and I live in Chicago, Illinois.”
“John Doe is an author who lives in Chicago, Illinois.”
Writing your author bio in the third person sounds more professional and authoritative to most readers.
Third-person can sometimes run the risk of sounding impersonal, but you can avoid this by adding a brief detail about your life experience at the end.
Explain Your Credentials
What qualifies you to write this book or article?
Your author bio is the place to explain. Whether you have special skills, work experience, or professional certifications, here is where you’ll include them.
Don’t talk about what you would like to do in the future; this is a waste of space and doesn’t help establish credibility. Instead, talk about what you already have done.
If your educational experience is relevant to the subject matter you’re writing on, mention your degree(s) in your bio.
If you don’t have any degrees or the degrees are in a completely different field, don’t add them — save that space for something else.
You should also mention any recognition you’ve received. What awards have you won? Have you been recognized for your writing anywhere?
Sharing your writing accomplishments lets your audience know they can trust your writing skills. Adding things like if you are a Wall Street Journal or New York Times Bestseller, have won any national magazine awards, or even achieved your bachelor’s degree in some form of writing field are all great accomplishments to list in your bio.
Here’s an example of the first sentence in an author bio that explains the writer’s credibility to help you understand how to write your own credibility into your bio.
“John Doe has a master’s degree in history and 15 years of experience working as an archivist. His first book, A History of Modern Japan, won a prestigious reader’s choice award.”
List Your Other Work
In addition to your awards and credentials, list a few other well-known works you’ve written.
Think of this as in-book marketing or free space to share more ways for the readers to find your work.
Someone may even read your author bio and realize they’ve already read your other work, creating a feeling of trust.
If your author bio is being published online, you can include hyperlinks to your author website or to any online stores where people can publish your other books.
If you don’t have any other work to include, that’s okay. Skip this part and focus more on other parts of your bio, such as your education or any relevant experience.
On the flip side, if you have a lot of other work, don’t list everything you’ve ever published — stick to just a few of the ones that are most impressive, most relevant, or most recent.
When written correctly, your author bio has the potential to help you connect to readers on a deeper level.
Don’t stop with a dry list of your degrees or past positions — add some personal details to help your readers get to know you.
For example, where do you live? Do you have a spouse, children, or a pet? What hobbies do you enjoy when you aren’t working or writing?
These are simple details, but sharing a glimpse into your life experience goes a long way in helping readers remember that you’re human, too. This could sound something like this:
“John Doe lives in Chicago, Illinois with his wife and three children. He enjoys playing tennis and going on bike rides with his dog.”
Don’t mention any topics that could be divisive. Stick to hobbies that are pure fun — nothing that involves controversial topics or reflects your political views (that is, unless you’re a politician writing a political book).
Keep It Short
Your author bio needs to be short. People have already spent a good chunk of their time reading your book or your article.
They aren’t going to read a long author bio, too. The shorter your bio, the higher the chance that people will actually read it.
The ideal length for an author bio is around 50-100 words. This is about 3-5 sentences.
Consider dedicating one sentence to your education and experience, another sentence to your other published work, and the final sentence to your personal life.
Be Willing to Tweak
Your author bio will change over time. As you continue publishing new writing and advancing your career, you’ll have more published works, on-the-job experience, and awards to add to your bio.
That said, make sure you aren’t married to the final version of your author bio — be willing to tweak it in the future as needed.
Your author bio also might need to sound a little different for different platforms. Many publishers and websites have guidelines for how long an author bio should be and what it should include.
Even if you’re free to write whatever you wish, you may want to highlight certain parts of your experience or overlook others.
For instance, maybe John Doe felt his experience working as an archivist in London wasn’t important enough to include in his main author bio. But for a publication that circulates in the United Kingdom, it would be the perfect detail to add in.
At the end of the day, your goal is to come up with an author bio that you can use as a template.
Save this general author bio and use it to work off of any time you have a new piece of writing published. In the future, you won’t have to start from scratch — you can simply use this predefined template and add or subtract information as necessary.
Your base author bio might sound something like this:
“John Doe has a master’s degree in history and 15 years of experience working as an archivist in London. His first book, A History of Modern Japan, won a prestigious reader’s choice award. John currently lives in Chicago, Illinois with his wife and three children, where enjoys playing tennis and going on bike rides with his dog.”
Write Your Author Bio
It turns out that learning how to write an author bio isn’t so hard after all. By following these simple tips, you can craft a bio that’s short, snappy, and helps you connect with your readers.
And if you’re still stuck, consider using an author bio template or some of the examples listed in this blog to inspire you on how to write your own author bio.
However, it goes without saying that before you can write an author bio, you need to have written a book or other piece of writing.
If you’re still in the main writing phase or have simply thought about writing and haven’t acted on it yet, my Book Writing Template can help. My system shows you how to map out your story and then piece it all together to write the best book that you can. Click here to download the template and start writing your book today.
About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.