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How to Write the Best Author Bio

Headshot of Bryan Cohen

Bryan Cohen, master of the author bio

In our occasional series about the special art of writing marketing copy for authors, American author and professional copywriter Bryan Cohen shares five ways to optimise your author bio, as part of your sales pitch for your self-published books. His common-sense post will makes it easy to bolster your bio, simply by working through his logical checklist of action points.

You’ve come a long way as a self-published author entrepreneur. You’re listening to the right podcasts, reading the right books, and you’re taking action to sell more copies. At long last, you’ve set up your email list and you’re linking to it in the front and the back of your books. Your website is clean and easy to navigate. You’ve even developed a bit of a following on social media without letting it eat up all your time.

What’s next on your path to publishing prowess? It’s simple. You need to develop a selling mindset.

You shouldn’t feel bad about selling. Doing so hurts your chances of selling more books. Readers will see your lack of conviction in the emails, review requests, and bios that you write. They’ll move on to someone who’s willing to ask them to take action (i.e. joining an email list, reviewing a book, buying an author’s entire catalogue, etc).

So, how do you go about selling with your words? Let’s start somewhere simple: your author bio.

Here are five things you can do today that will help your bio sell more books.

Fountain pen nib poised over blank page

Writing your author bio – a precision job

1) List Your Other Books

More often than not, a reader comes to your bio after buying one of your other books. If that’s the case, they probably want to know what else you have out there. Since you can’t control Amazon’s carousel of books that sit beside your stunningly attractive author picture, you need to list the books you’re most interested in selling. It never hurts to add some shortened links as well that readers can copy and paste to easily reach your book sales pages. Listing a few of your key books in your bio on Amazon and on your personal author website can encourage new fans of yours to buy the rest of your backlist.

2) Mention Your Website and Your Email List Sign-up Page

Amazon and the other retailers have control of customer data. If you want to find out who your customers are and how to contact them, then you’ll need to bring readers to your own site. At the very least, you need to link to your own website so readers can find out about you. Ideally, you should link readers to a sign-up page where they can join your mailing list. Once again, shortened links are helpful so the links don’t take up too much space.

When a reader joins your list, you can contact him or her whenever you want about new releases, advance review copy opportunities, social media happenings, and anything else of note. Readers who look at your bio are on a fact finding mission to learn more about you. Keep their quest going by guiding them to your email list.

3) Explain What Sets Your Books Apart

Describing yourself and your passions is an important part of any author bio. Once you’ve talked about your upbringing and your cat Rocket, however, you need to give your books the same kind of attention. What are customers saying about your books in reviews? Do they use words like compelling, action-packed, thought-provoking, or unique? If so, liberally sprinkle your bio with those words when you mention your books or your series.

This is the part where authors start to feel like they’re being too salesy. Keep in mind that you aren’t making anything up. You’re literally using words of praise that your existing readers have heaped upon you. If you’re trying to target similar readers, it only makes sense that you use the praiseworthy words they’re looking for when they seek out their next read.

4) Reference Reviews, Awards, and Notable Achievements

BookBub recently came out with a study that found book descriptions listing awards, quotes from other authors, and the number of five-star reviews tend to sell better than those without. There’s no reason why the same can’t be true for your author bio.

Do you have a quote from a New York Times bestselling author about your book? Use it! Do you have over 150 five-star reviews on your top-selling series? Mention it! Have you won a well-known book award? Make sure the readers who check out your bio know about it.

Even if you only have a few reviews to your name, you can still pull a quote or two to give new readers an idea of what they can expect when they click the buy button.

5) Avoid Shy, Bashful Modesty

Your books are worth selling. Even if you don’t always believe that, you wouldn’t be reading this post if you didn’t have some semblance of self-confidence. Many authors exhibit their fear of sounding like a used car salesman when it matters the most. They fail to use their descriptions, their emails to readers, and their bios to mention the best qualities of their books and themselves.

Stop pretending that you aren’t running a business. You are. It’s a book-selling business. To be successful, you’re going to need to emphasize your strongest points: well-written books that fans enjoy which readers can buy at a fair price.

Be honest without being modest. If you still feel bad about selling, just ignore that counterproductive part of your brain while you write the bio.

To sell more books, you need to sell yourself. It all starts with the bio.

If you’d like more advice from Bryan, including his free cheat sheet on writing better book descriptions, sign up at www.authorcopy.com, where at the time this post is published he’s also running a giveaway with the chance to win free, professionally-written bios, emails and descriptions. 

 

 

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12 Responses to How to Write the Best Author Bio

  1. Gordon A. Long October 14, 2015 at 1:47 am #

    I like the idea of putting book names and review comments in. Wouldn’t have thought of that. Now I have to rewrite mine!

  2. Michael N. Marcus October 11, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

    I’ve found it useful to have multiple versions on my bio ready to go, in various lengths ranging from one sentence to about eight paragraphs.

    • Bryan Cohen October 13, 2015 at 12:42 am #

      Great idea! It’s smart to do that with descriptions as well.

  3. Karl Drinkwater October 8, 2015 at 11:41 am #

    Great, many thanks Bryan and Jackie. I was inspired to update my author bio. I prefer the new version, and it also ended up being a third smaller, which is good – putting the old and new side by side I much prefer the new one, and it also points to my online presence better now. Next task is to update the author info on the 13 sites that include it!

    • Bryan Cohen October 9, 2015 at 4:22 am #

      That’s fantastic, Karl. Good work. Fortunately, it’s just a copy/paste job from here on out! 🙂

  4. Karl Drinkwater October 7, 2015 at 3:42 pm #

    Many thanks, there’s a few good things to consider here! Do you have any recommendations of really good author bios to look at? Also, do you think they’re better in 1st person, or 3rd person, or is that not a key factor?

    • Jackie Weger October 7, 2015 at 5:13 pm #

      Karl Drinkwater: IMO Amazon bios should be in 3rd person. You can speak to your readers in first person on your blog and in your newsletter and in an author note at the back of your book. Bryan’s suggestion to add a bitly link to your website and other social media is dead on. Otherwise, your Amazon bio is a dead end. Alexa tells me 12.4% of traffic to my site comes FROM Amazon–which tells me readers are reading my bio and clicking the link to my sites.

      Great informative post, Bryan Cohen!
      Best,
      Jackie Weger

      • Bryan Cohen October 7, 2015 at 7:10 pm #

        Thanks for the kind words, Jackie! Yes, you’ve always got to keep the path going. Never give your readers a dead end :).

    • Bryan Cohen October 7, 2015 at 7:09 pm #

      Thanks for the comment, Karl! I agree, third person is best.

      Here are a couple of good ones I found:
      http://www.amazon.com/Honoree-Corder/e/B005DO6BPQ/ref=ntt_aut_sim_8_2
      http://www.amazon.com/A.G.-Riddle/e/B00C32LQBK/ref=ntt_aut_sim_1_1

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