Writing an author bio is a crucial step in your writing career.
How your bio is written will give publishers, critics, and readers their first impression of you.
So, how do you portray yourself well in a short bio using 100-200 words, which is the standard author bio length?
Beyond the word limit, how do you write an author bio that makes an impact? Check out the tips and advice below, followed by examples of quality author bios from which to take inspiration.
If you are at a loss about how to write an author’s biography for your originally published work, this article is for you.
How to write an author’s biography
Readers, literary agents, and publishing companies want to know who you are. Artists are also businesses unto themselves, and a great pitch is key to good business.
Consider your author bio as your sales pitch. Why should a reader read your work? What’s in it for literary agents and publishers?
How many words are in an author bio?
A typical author bio is only around 100 words. As a writer, you know that 100 words are very few to share your entire life experience.
The challenge in writing your own bio lies in condensing all the critical, relevant, and interesting information about yourself in such a short passage.
What to include in an author bio
With all the information about your life, which is relevant to most readers and will pique their interests?
1. Your background
Where are you from? And where do you live now?
Readers often naturally resonate with those from their hometown or favorite city. Your home and current city/country are one line in your bio and may be condensed to half a sentence (examples to follow).
2. Personal background
Who are you, and what made you that way? What experiences have you had that relate to your book’s theme or story?
What do you love to write about? Are you into creative writing focusing on poetry? What’s your niche, your style, your inspiration?
How about your relevant work experience? Have you worked in publishing? Have you been featured in reputable literary journals or magazines?
Use the questions and suggestions above as a guide. You don’t have to include all this information, or you can include more.
The critical thing to remember is to keep everything simple and concise.
Follow the basic author bio template outlined below to get started.
Start your author bio a strong opening line. This is the reader’s first point of contact with who you are, so make it relevant and memorable.
Consider mentioning where you’re from to connect with potential locals or establish yourself as a member of a cultural scene.
New York City and Portland, Oregon are famous scenes for writers, and mentioning that you’re from there (as long as you really are!) can improve how a potential reader views you and your work.
4. Reputation and achievements
After your introduction, show off your previous experience and success by mentioning awards you’ve won or for which you’ve been nominated and previous work published.
Highlighting your achievements in your author bio instills confidence in the readers that your work is high quality and worth their time.
5. Why should readers consider your work?
Now that you’ve introduced yourself and highlighted your achievements, it’s time to show potential readers why you’re a credible author in your niche. How does your experience make you an authority in the subject?
You do not need to be a published author of ten books just to be able to show your authority in the field or genre you’ve chosen.
If you write about war, were you in service? If you write about art, are you an artist or art critic? Help readers feel confident by establishing your authority in your particular field or niche through your author bio.
6. Themes, style, genre
You’ve shown the reader why you can write about the niche. Now it’s time to offer them even more information about what to expect for your work.
Over the next line or two, outline your style and themes.
Are you in to creative writing or are you more focused on academic writing?
Do you mostly write contemporary romance? Historical fiction? Satire?
Readers often choose books by their genre of preference, so it’s essential to highlight your genre, themes, and style in your author bio. Doing so attracts already-interested readers, whereby your style and themes are major selling points.
What do you do when you’re not writing? You’re human, so you have other qualities, hobbies, and passions beyond your career.
Using your author bio, let readers know what your personal interests are, the activities you like to do in your spare time or causes you are passionate about.
Relatability is vital in readers’ purchasing decisions, so get vulnerable and show a more intimate side of yourself in your bio.
Here are some helpful templates to give you an idea on how to structure your author bio:
[Author] was born in [location] and now resides in [location]. Known for their works [book title] and [book title] (or) published in [journal/publication], [author] has a lot to offer fans of [genre].
Having worked as [experience], [Author] offers experience-based insight into the world of [topic/niche]. [Author] explores [themes] with style, wit, and grace.
In their spare time, [Author] likes to spend time on [hobbies].
The above is a basic author bio template but a good starting point. Use the template to write your own author bio but feel free to edit and change the structure and content as you see fit.
Author bios: First person or third person?
Authors often write their own bios but write in the third person because doing so reads well and helps you sound more reputable and established.
If you write in the first person (using ‘I’ statements), it’s too easy to sound overconfident and conceited.
Keeping the bio narrative in the third person makes it much easier to talk yourself up without sounding arrogant or ‘tooting your own horn.’
The importance of an author bio
Your bio serves as a type of business card.
A bio is crucial, whether as self publishing authors or as someone who published traditionally. It informs potential readers of your background, style, and character.
Essentially, your bio is a sales pitch, one of y our book marketing tools. It’s the ‘why’ regarding a reader’s decision to read or purchase your work.
Your bio helps you establish and improve your reputation, by putting forward a specific perspective on who you are.
Credibility and authority
What qualifies you to write about your niche or topic? If you write a book about travel and you inform readers of your extensive traveling experience, that gives your credibility and authority on the subject.
Readers are more likely to engage with your book if you write a non-fiction book about self-care and have experience working as a therapist or counselor.
Similarly, suppose you inform readers of your past success, such as getting published in a reputable literary journal or magazines like the Wall Street Journal or USA Today. In that case, they feel more confident that your work is worth their time and money.
Famous authors such as Stephen King or Haruki Murakami don’t need to rely on their author bio as much as lesser-known or first-time authors.
Such authors already have an established reputation that gives readers confidence and interest.
However, if you’re a first-time freelance writer or don’t have the level of fame as the authors mentioned, your bio is how you instill confidence in the reader.
If a reader chooses to read work by an author whom they’ve never heard of, they naturally want to know more about said author.
In what ways can you relate to the reader? For example, if you write a psychology book about anxiety, your experiences of struggling with and overcoming fear will be incredibly relevant and relatable information for the reader.
Several factors influence a potential reader’s purchasing decision when interested in a book from an author they’ve never heard. Book marketing covers a wide range of tools and activities.
These factors are often surface level, such as the book cover, the size of the book, and how they heard about it in the first place.
Another major factor is the author’s bio. Your bio is not the same as other ‘hard sell’ marketing tactics, but rather a soft sell, a gentle persuasion to give your work a chance.
Examples of Author Bios
If you want to write a killer bio, it’s wise to take inspiration from great author bio examples.
Below we’ve included the author bios of renowned authors John Scalzi (Old Man’s War, Redshirts), June Hur (The Silence of Bones, The Forest of Stolen Girls), and John Grisham (The Pelican Brief).
John Scalzi writes books, which makes perfect sense considering where you’re reading this. He’s best known for writing science fiction, including the New York Times bestseller Redshirts, which won the Hugo Award for Best Novel. He also writes non-fiction on subjects ranging from personal finance to astronomy to film and was the Creative Consultant for the Stargate: Universe television series. He enjoys pie, as should all right-thinking people. You can get to his blog by typing the word “Whatever” into Google. No, seriously, try it.
Scalzi’s wit shines in his opening line. Following the opener, we learn about his genre (sci-fi), previously published work, and literary achievements.
Finally, he adds more humor to give the reader a warm, soft giggle. Scalzi’s personality shines through his bio and earns him the positive reputation he boasts today.
June Hur was born in South Korea and raised in Canada, except when she moved back to Korea and attended high school there. She studied History and Literature at the University of Toronto. She began writing her debut novel after obsessing over books about Joseon Korea. She can be found wandering through nature or journaling at a coffee shop when she’s not writing. June is the Author of The Silence of Bones and The Forest of Stolen Girls and currently lives in Toronto with her husband and daughter.
June Hur’s opening byline offers a crash course in her background. Following her opener, we learn about her education and early days as a writer.
What makes June Hur’s bio so great is that it offers readers a peek into her personal life outside of writing, which makes her more three-dimensional and relatable.
John Grisham is the author of forty-seven consecutive #1 bestsellers, which have been translated into nearly fifty languages. His recent books include The Judge’s List, Sooley, and his third Jake Brigance novel, A Time for Mercy, which is being developed by HBO as a limited series.
Grisham is a two-time winner of the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction and was honored with the Library of Congress Creative Achievement Award for Fiction.
When he’s not writing, Grisham serves on the board of directors of the Innocence Project and of Centurion Ministries, two national organizations dedicated to exonerating those who have been wrongfully convicted. Much of his fiction explores deep-seated problems in our criminal justice system.
John lives on a farm in central Virginia.
Grisham’s bio highlights his writing achievements and provides the reader with a sense of his credibility. The personal details of his life emphasize his belief in justice and equality.
Grisham’s bio adds a personal touch that also makes him relatable – he offers the reader information about his home – a bit of information that also helps him come across as relatable to the reader, even amongst all of his accomplishments.
Your author biography is never really finished. The more you write, the more experience you gain, and the greater your reputation, the more you can adapt and come up with your own killer author bio.
Even if you’re a first-time author, don’t be intimidated by the bio. You may not have much experience now, but you can still introduce readers into your life and experience. In time, you will establish yourself as a respectable authority in your niche.