As many of my long time blog readers will know, I don’t often (if ever) do “how to write” posts. I just don’t consider it my thing. However, Janet Hardy kindly invited me to Fiction University. This is an excellent all around blog if you are (or would like to be) a debut author.
I wrote about author bios, and I present it below for your edification, Gentle Reader.
How to Write (and Not to Write) an Author Bio
I still have readers who tell me they purchased my first book because they liked the bio. Sure, the cover got them to pick it up, and the description got them intrigued, but they bought it because of the bio. I think this is uncommon. I took a risk with my bio and it worked.
But first, here’s what most authors do…
Your Fill-In-The-Blank Author Bio
[Name] lives in [City] where she pretends to be a [pithy comment on boring day job] when she would rather be writing. She spends her free time [standard hobby] and [less standard hobby]. She also likes to [quirky and slightly off base skill – like fencing or black belt in some combat thingy ]. She lives with a [tolerant, saintly, long-suffering] spouse/partner and two [witty descriptor] [cats/children] and a [dog/garden].
So, that’s your formula.
Why would readers pick up a book written by someone who doesn’t have the imagination to come up with a unique bio?
Break from tradition.
Look at the bios of authors you admire (Lemony Snicket’s is wonderful), particularly those who also have large social media followings. If you write dark fiction, give your bio a mood swing into noir. If you write under a pen name, give that pen name your life… only tweaked. Mystery or suspense? Make that bio mysterious and suspenseful. You don’t have to lie, but you can certainly exaggerate. Everything in my bio is true, just shifted slightly into the absurd.
Here’s how mine read back in 2009:
Gail Carriger writes to cope with being raised in obscurity by an expatriate Brit and an incurable curmudgeon. She escaped small town life for Europe and inadvertently acquired an education. She now resides in the Colonies with a harem of Armenian lovers and tea imported from London.
Why that bio?
This book took place in England, so I wanted to establish both credentials and a connection to the UK (I mention a British parent, importing tea, and travel). My books are funny and sexy so I wanted that tone to come across (the harem & descriptive word choice). My hero is a big gruff werewolf (hence “curmudgeon”) and the setting is historical (hence use of the word “Colonies”). I write with complex vocabulary, so I make certain this is also represented in my bio.
I had three sentences to work with for my bio. Three. At least two things in each sentence tie to my world, my style as a writer, and/or my general whimsy. Someone who doesn’t respond well to this bio, probably won’t like my books.
I’m not holding this up as an ideal. I’m merely stressing the fact that your bio is on your book. It is on your website (and lots of other places, I hope). People read it as an insight, not into you as a person, but into you as an author. Notice I don’t mention my hometown (not relevant), nor do I name hobbies (who cares, really).
Look, let’s be honest here:
Your bio is a marketing tool. It’s brand management. Don’t cop out with a pat formula.
You’re a writer? Write this as well and with as much attention as you would the book itself, if not more.
Here is a GREAT example of doing it differently from the hilarious Chloe Adler:
BOOK DE JOUR
- Tired of the hero’s journey?
- Frustrated that funny, romantic, and comforting stories aren’t taken seriously?
- Sad that the books and movies you love never seem to be critically acclaimed, even when they sell like crazy?
The Heroine’s Journey is here to help.
Multiple New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger presents a clear concise analysis of the heroine’s journey, how it differs from the hero’s journey, and how you can use it to improve your writing and your life.
GAIL’S DAILY DOSE
Your Moment of Parasol . . .
Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
Quote of the Day:
“All authority is quite degrading. It degrades those who exercise it, and degrades those over whom it is exercised.”
~ Oscar Wilde
Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!