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How To Write An Author Bio – Ideas from Bestsellers

Written by

P.J McNulty

https://selfpublishing.com/author/patrickmcnulty/

Published on

2021-03-24

Your author bio is the perfect chance to let readers know more about you, your background, and why you’ve written your books.

But how do you make sure your bio engages people rather than repelling them?

What are the technical aspects of an author bio you need to know?

And what are some shining examples you can use to inform your own bio?

We’ve gathered together some examples to help you sell more books and turn your readers into fans. 

  1. What is an author bio?
  2. Where is an author bio used?
  3. What are the benefits of an author bio?
  4. How do you write an author bio?
  5. Author bio examples – Hal Elrod
  6. Author bio examples – Ramy Vance
  7. Author bio examples – Tony Robbins 
  8. Action steps for your author bio

What is an author bio?

An author bio is a short piece of writing, usually between 150 and 300 words, that lets readers know more about the author whose book they are thinking of reading. 

A good author bio establishes not only who an author is, and a little bit about their life, but also why they have written the book and some of their professional achievements. 

Where is an author bio used?

There are lots of places where an author bio can be featured. 

Some of the most common include:

  • Books. It’s rare to find a book without some kind of author bio in. This helps both readers browsing in a bookstore to know if your book is right for them, as well as people who have read the book to learn more about you.
  • Retailers. A lot of online book retailers allow you to upload a bio. Amazon Author Central is a great example, but it’s common to a lot of other bookstores as well. 
  • Social media. You might feature your full bio on social media, or have extracts, for example in a Twitter bio. You can also use parts of your bio as visual content, for example on Pinterest or Instagram. 
  • Author websites. For established authors, a full website is a must-have. Any good author website should have a bio section where interested people can find out more. 
  • Blogging biographies. If you want to post on other authors’ blogs as a guest writer, a shortened version of your bio should feature at the end of your posts and contain links to your author platform. 

A version of your bio is useful anywhere and everywhere you can think of that potential readers might want to learn more about you.

What are the benefits of an author bio?

So if you’re going to take the time to write a good author bio, how can you expect to benefit? What makes it worth taking the time to craft the best bio possible?

Here are four powerful benefits of a good author bio. 

  1. Differentiation. It’s unlikely that your book is unique among all the books out there. Hopefully, it has a unique and fresh angle, but there are probably similar books on offer. However, there’s only one you! Your author bio makes your book stand out from others like it.
  1. Credibility. Your bio is a chance to show exactly why you are qualified to write that book in particular. Have you won awards? Do you have a certain educational or professional background that makes you suitable? Don’t brag, but calmly and clearly state your relevant achievements. 
  1. Connection. You can also use your author bio as a way to offer a bit of flavor about your life and who you are. If you’re humorous, show it! You can form a sense of connection with readers by authentically expressing your personality and who you are.
  1. Platform. An author bio is also the perfect place to promote your wider platform. You can include links to your author website, social media handles, Goodreads page, or anywhere else that people can deepen their connection to you.

 Of course, you only get these benefits if you write your bio the right way. A bad or boring author bio only risks alienating readers and dissuading them from checking out your book further. 

How do you write an author bio?

Now that you know exactly what an author bio is, and how it can help you succeed, let’s check out exactly how to create one.

To write an author bio, simply follow these five simple steps.

Step 1 – Read relevant bios 

It’s difficult to get a feel for the type of content found in an author bio unless you read some relevant examples in a careful, considered way. 

Take the time to read five or ten bios of authors you admire who write the same type of book as you. 

What do you notice? Is there a particular tone they all seem to take? Are the bios structured similarly? Which strike a chord with you the most, and why is that?

This step isn’t about plagiarising or copying. 

Instead, it’s about finding the type of author bio you like and find effective and then creating your own authentic version of that.  

Step 2 – Brainstorm your key points

Before you write a draft of your bio, make a list of the must-have information it will contain. 

This could include your most pertinent biographical details, lists of your awards and achievements, and a few little flavorful details to show your personality and create some rapport with your reader.

Step 3 – Draft your bio 

Now that you’ve got the list of key points to include, it’s time to shape them into a readable draft of your bio. 

But what kind of structure should you use?

As a guideline, you might find this template to be a good starting point:

  1. Start with a powerful and gripping introductory sentence
  2. State your background and how it is relevant to the book you are writing
  3. Show your credibility by mentioning awards and other professional achievements 
  4. Sprinkle in a little flavor and personality 
  5. End your bio on a funny note or include a link to a part of your author platform 

After you’ve finished drafting, read back over your bio. Make sure it fits with the word count guidelines and includes all the key points you hoped for. 

Step 4 – Create alternative versions 

Because author bios are fairly short, you have the luxury of being able to create several alternative versions and deciding on the best. 

You can also have slightly different bios for different purposes, such as some that are more professional and others that lean into humor to a greater extent. 

If you don’t see any value in this step, feel free to skip it. 

Step 5 – Get feedback and refine

Now that you have a series of alternative reader bios, or even just a solid draft of a single version, it’s time to get some feedback and make improvements. 

If you already have people in your network you feel would be suitable to get feedback from, by all means reach out and ask them. But don’t take the feedback of just anyone. You want to avoid people who will sugarcoat or aim to please you, as well as those who don’t read the type of book you are working on. 

Step 6 – Update your bio as needed

Your author bio isn’t something you should write and forget about. Instead, be sure to update it over time as you achieve new things. This isn’t to say that you should constantly tweak it. That would be annoying. But give it a refresh from time to time, both in terms of its content, and also to make sure it still conveys the tone you want to get across. 

Author bio examples

While it’s one thing to read some best practice tips on writing your author bio, it’s another entirely to see some effective examples from the real world. 

To get your author bio juices flowing, here are some examples from bestselling authors. 

Hal Elrod 

Hal Elrod is one of the best-known modern motivational and self-help authors. Let’s take a look at Hal’s author bio. 

“Hal Elrod is on a mission to Elevate the Consciousness of Humanity, One Person at a Time. 

As the author of one of the highest rated books on Amazon, “The Miracle Morning” (which has been translated into 37 languages, has over 3,000 five-star reviews and has impacted the lives of over 2,000,000 people in more than 70 countries)… he is doing exactly that.

What’s incredible is that Hal literally died at age 20. His car was hit head-on by a drunk driver at 70 miles per hour, his heart stopped beating for 6 minutes, he broke 11 bones and woke up after being in a coma for 6 days to be told by his doctors that he would probably never walk again.

Not only did Hal walk, he ran a 52-mile ultra-marathon and went on to became a hall of fame business achiever, international keynote speaker, author, and grateful husband & father-all before he turned 30.

Then, in November of 2016, Hal nearly died again – his kidneys, lungs, and heart were failing, and he was diagnosed with a rare, and very aggressive form of cancer and given a 30% chance of living.

After enduring the most difficult year of his life, Hal is now cancer-free and furthering his mission as the founder of The Miracle Morning book series, host of the “Achieve Your Goals” podcast, creator of the Best Year Ever [Blueprint] LIVE event, and Executive Producer of The Miracle Morning MOVIE – a documentary that reveals the morning rituals of some of the world’s most successful people.

Hal is grateful to be alive and living his mission alongside his wife and their two young children in Austin, TX.

To contact Hal about media appearances, speaking at your event, or if you just want to receive free training videos and resources, visit www.HalElrod.com.”

As you can see, Hal Elrod’s bio touches on a lot of the ideas we found in this article. 

Some of the things we most liked about it include:

  • First sentence. Hal Elrod’s bio has a first sentence that is concise and tells you everything you need to know about his personal mission. 
  • Emotionally engaging. By sharing details of Hal’s life, his bio takes you on an emotional journey. This makes you admire Hal and feel inspired to learn from him. 
  • Small personal touches. Aside from the deeper emotional aspects, the bio contains some of the more usual personal information, such as living in Austin with his wife and kids. 
  • Call to action. This bio ends with a clear call to action to visit Hal’s author website.

Ramy Vance

Ramy Vance is a self-publishing rockstar. Let’s take a look at his author bio. 

“Ramy Vance is the creator of the GoneGod World – a universe dedicated to myth, magic, mischief and mayhem. 

He lives in Edinburgh with his wife, demonic baby, monstrous 5-year old and imaginary dog.

Terrified, he pretty much stays in his office and writes.”

  • Funny. This is a genuinely hilarious bio. It not only uses jokes but the humor ties in with his writing by using words like demonic and monstrous. 
  • Punchy. Vance’s bio is one of the shortest on the list, clocking in at under 50 words. This is shorter than recommended, but it does a good job for a brief bio. 
  • Light personal touches. You learn a little bit about Ramy’s life here, but it doesn’t bore you or give too many details. 

Tony Robbins

Tony Robbins is probably one of the best-known motivators and self-help gurus (although he doesn’t use that word) in the world. Let’s see what his author bio contains. 

“Tony Robbins is a bestselling author, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. 

For more than thirty-nine years, millions of people have enjoyed the warmth, humor, and transformational power of Mr. Robbins’s business and personal development events. 

He is the nation’s #1 life and business strategist. He’s called upon to consult and coach some of the world’s finest athletes, entertainers, Fortune 500 CEOs, and even presidents of nations. 

Robbins is the chairman of a holding company comprised of more than a dozen businesses with combined sales exceeding five billion dollars a year. 

His philanthropic efforts helped provide more than 100 million meals in the last year alone. He lives in Palm Beach, Florida.”

  • Credible. Tony Robbins’ bio drips with credibility. It makes big claims but backs them up with convincing justifications. 
  • Quantified. Tony’s use of numbers is great here. Mentioning “five billion dollars” and “100 million meals” is very effective. 
  • Tone. The tone of Robbins’ bio is professional and concise. It’s businesslike and straight to the point. 

Action steps for your author bio

Hopefully, you’ve taken a lot from this guide to crafting an effective author bio. 

If you’re ready to take action and start working on your own bio, follow these five simple steps:

  1. Identify 10 relevant bios to read and make notes on. 
  2. Combine and summarize your author bio notes, looking for commonalities. 
  3. Bullet point the essential info for your bio. 
  4. Draft a bio using the structure shown above.
  5. List 5 people in your network you will reach out to for feedback when you have a full bio ready.

After you’ve taken that initial action, you’ll have plenty of momentum to build upon to write the full thing.

An effective author bio really can help you sell more books, so why not get started right away?

P.J McNulty