Every book needs an author bio. It lets readers know who you are and why you are uniquely qualified to write the book at hand. Readers expect this at the back of your book. And booksellers and other industry professionals expect it on your press releases and other marketing materials.
But far too many indie authors don’t understand the art of writing their bios, sabotaging themselves before readers ever get to Page One.
At BlueInk Review, we’ve seen some jaw-droppingly bad bios, enough to know that many indie authors need help. To that end, here are 4 of the most common mistakes indie authors make:
1. They tell readers their life story
Readers want to know why you are the right person to write this particular book. They don’t want to know where you went to high school, where you met your wife, the nationality of your parents and the fact that you have a chicken coop in your back yard. When writing your bio, ask yourself: What is relevant to this book? If you’re writing a novel, tell readers about the short stories you’ve published in respected literary journals. If you’re writing about antiques, tell readers that you have owned a popular antique store for 20 years. Save the rest of your life story for family and friends. .
2. They mention their pets and children
It’s OK to mention your children like this: “The author lives in California with his wife and three children.” It’s not OK to mention it like this: “The author has three daughters, Alexa, Susan and Joyce. The first two live in San Diego, where they work, while Joyce attends Kenyon College.” We have actually seen bios like this. Readers are mildly curious if you have children; they don’t care to know much more than that.
And this leads us to another common faux paw, er, pas: It’s beyond us why authors feel compelled to share information about their pets. Again, readers might be mildly curious to know that you live in California with your three dogs and a canary. But they are generally not interested enough to care about those animals’ names, breeds and how they love to chase one another around the yard.
Talking about your kids and pets is akin to cornering some stranger at a party and showing them all your latest photos of Fifi. Resist the temptation
3. They don’t pare their credentials down to those that matter to this book
Sometimes, authors lose sight of the forest, while mentioning every tree. In other words, they list every accomplishment they have ever achieved and leave readers to sort out what is relevant to this particular book. While it’s great to convey that you are a competent individual, readers only want to know the achievements related to this particular piece of writing. If, for example, you are writing a book about dieting, tell readers you are a registered nutritionist or certified dietician; don’t tell them you won an award for a short story you wrote in high school.
4. They don’t keep it short
We’ve seen author bios that run for 10 paragraphs, detailing every twist and turn of the author’s life. Readers are pressed for time like everyone else. Wouldn’t you rather them to spend it reading your actual book, rather than your bio? Write a tight 3 sentences or so. Then sign off and let the book speak for itself.
BlueInk Review is a fee-based book review service devoted exclusively to self-published titles. Visit us at www.blueinkreview.com.