Unpublished Writer: You Can Write a Kickass Author Bio!

The author bio or the “about the author” section can be a real balls ache for unpublished writers. What the heck do you boast about, if you’ve just started this writing gig?

First things first: If you’re tired/ lazy/ about to flip the desk—chill. There’s a template at the end. Like, a really awesome one. So your problem is solved.

Next on the list: It’s okay to feel useless when staring at that blank page. Even experienced writers, who build worlds and have hundreds of characters swimming around in their creative minds, cringe at the thought of having to write about themselves. (Well, that’s what I’m telling myself.)

As an unpublished writer, you’re not even sure what to call yourself. Am I an author, writer or some chump with a keyboard and a few vague ideas?

My feeling is: fake it ’til you make it.

Think of the author bio as a resumé after one shot of Jägermeister. You’re going to sell your good points like you would for a job interview but you’re going to be relaxed and little silly about it.

At this point you’re almost a 100% certain this is the worst advice you’ve ever received. Bare with me, you’ll see there’s method to my madness but first let’s get the basics down.

Don’t call yourself a “novelist” if you haven’t published yet.

  • Describe yourself as a freelance writer because chances are you will be sending your manuscripts off to publishers, or sharing your work online e.g. writer’s forums, Wattpad, blog posts.

Write in 3rd person

  • It might feel a bit pretentious but it does create distance. Use this to separate yourself from the author.
  • It also makes you look less self-indulgent to the reader when you’re tooting your horn.

Keep it short

  • Fewer than 250 words, if you haven’t won any awards, what are you jibber jabbering about anyways?
  • Keeping it brief means that you can use the same bio for print publications, author pages, social media (these might have word count/ character number restrictions).

 Be professional

  • List your achievements, something that gives you credibility or makes you newsworthy e.g. education, work experience, big prizes, press credits, were you editor of the school paper?
  • If you’re an active member of a writing group, mention it.

Be a little silly

  • You are your genre: authors who write about serious topics usually have serious bios, authors of the young-adult genre tend to be more upbeat and funny. Non-fiction authors rely on credibility, so, not a lot of room for silliness there.
  • Give the readers a sense of your voice (light, chatty, dark, brooding, sarcastic, witty).
  • What makes you human/ relatable? Do you drink too much coffee, love 80’s music and wear white socks?
  • A touch appropriate humour can go a long way in taking the snore out of a bio.
  • Mention something that makes you interesting: quirky jobs, hobbies, and talents — if it aligns with your novels even better e.g. your book is about werewolves who own a gourmet burger restaurant and you’re the world’s championship burger winner.
  • If there’s nothing interesting about you, mention something personal. Readers may be interested to know that a children’s book author has kids of her own, or an ex-police officer wrote a crime novel, or that you have a fat cat that loves to eat lasagna.

Online presence:

  • Mention your blog, Twitter handle and any social media sites you’re active on.

If all else fails: use this template provided courtesy of Alexandra Franzen. She’s got mad skills, check out her blog!

Super cool template:

{Your name here} wants to live in a world where {describe the kind of world you want to live in}.

As a {your job title here}, {he’s / she’s} been {spotlighted / featured / showcased / honored / applauded} on {list of blogs / websites / podcasts / theaters / art galleries / places that have recognized or shared your work}.

When {he’s / she’s} not {describe whatever your normally do}, you can find {him / her} {describe whatever you do when you’re not doing … that}.

{His / Her} {first / next / latest / recently-released} {book / program / project / collaboration} — {title of your new and cool thing} — hits {the shelves / airwaves / silver screen / internet / an inbox near you} on {date}.

{Discover / learn / explore / find out} how to {describe whatever you help people to do} at {your website here}.