When you are vulnerable, authentic, and generous, your readers trust you to guide them through the transformation that you teach. In your biography, you want to show that part of yourself to your readers.
So before you start putting the pieces of your biography together, think about how you feel about books and authors you recommend. When you’re talking about a book your friend just has to read, what do you say? “You’ll love this author - so funny/wise/smart/edgy.”
Decide what you’d like your readers to love about you. Is it that you have survived some ordeal? That you share amazing stories or insight? Became a nicer/better/smarter leader? That you prevailed against all odds? Created some amazing product or system? That you serve people in some unique way?
That’s what you want to focus on.
Gather the lists you made in the exercises in Part One and Part Two of this series. (If you didn’t do the homework or you’re just tuning in to this series, complete the exercises in the previous articles to dig deep into understanding your readers and yourself.)
Now we’re getting to the fun part! Match your unique story with exactly what your ideal client needs to hear from you.
There are a lot of different ways you can write your bio.
If you have multiple degrees or lots of experience - decide whether you need to list it all, or if you can generalize. What is important for your reader? For example, if you are writing a book about psychology, all your education is relevant and lends to your credibility and expertise.
If you are writing a spiritual book and all your education is in engineering, it may be more relevant to your reader to know about your spiritual path and life experience.
As you develop your own biography, research the bios of people you admire and customize the techniques that you like for your own.
Here are some examples of author bios that work for their audience:
The longer, get-to-know-me bio
This longer bio is appropriate for Vicki’s book, because she writes about animal health and wellness. Her readers need to know that she is an experienced, trained expert. She includes more personal information about her personal life and love of animals to further connect with her fans:
“Vicki Draper is a highly regarded modern-day animal healer and author who supports family animals with health, harmony and ease, addressing wellness during every stage of your animal’s life.
She is featured in multiple books and magazines, and is the creator of healing products sold around the country and around the world. A natural-born animal communicator, Vicki's qualifications as a healer for both people and animals include being a licensed massage practitioner, a certified acupressurist and Reiki Master/Teacher, and training in craniosacral therapy.
Vicki lives in the Greater Seattle Area with her daughter, Miranda, and two cats, Spirit and Sapphire. She loves to walk in nature daily, connecting with herons, eagles and wildlife, bringing nature’s wisdom into her life and healing practice.” ~Vicki Draper, Author of the Healing You, Healing Your Animal series
The short, engaging bio
This one is from a hairdresser who became a poet in mid-life. Her bio is quirky enough to make you want to check out her book:
“Carol is old enough to know better and young enough to still contemplate trying. She enjoys spending time with family and friends and has called the Pacific Northwest home for most of her life. Carol writes most of her poetry on her iPhone… actually, all of it. Carol plays Texas hold ‘em twice a week with the boys at the VFW and enjoys reading a lot. Since she lives in Seattle, drinking coffee is a hobby… lots and lots of coffee. And she enjoys traveling, but not too far.” ~Carol Jacobson, Author of Dancing on the Edge (coming soon on amazon.com!)
The professional yet inspirational bio
Keith J Weber spent 20 years in the financial services industry. During that time he watched hundreds of clients struggle with the daily disillusionment of their jobs while in pursuit of the retirement dream. Now as a brain tumor survivor, speaker, author, coach and consultant, Keith helps financial advisors in assisting their clients to create more meaningful and fulfilling lives. ~Keith Weber, Author of Rethinking Retirement: How to Create the Life You Want Without Waiting to Retire
The too-short, catchy bio
This blogger’s bio is fun and written for short attention spans:
“Mihir Patkar is a freelance writer on technology and life hacks, who firmly believes chocolate is the answer to any question. You can usually find him saying other such silly things on Twitter.” ~Mihir Patkar, blogger for LifeHacker
I like this bio, but what would make it better is one line about why I should take his advice on technology. What makes him an expert? Make sure you include enough of your personality, along with what makes you special, or gives you expertise or authority.
The “keep-it-light” bio
In my book, I share my personal pain and transformation. In my bio, I decided to keep mine light, as my education (Russian Language and Literature) is less relevant than my personal and coaching experience:
“Amy is a best-selling author and award-winning speaker. She has always been a spiritual seeker and self-help junkie, finally settling on gratitude as her spiritual practice of choice. When she’s not writing, Amy likes to speak to groups, teach workshops, coach, and enjoy life with her husband, Tom.” ~Amy Collette, Author of The Gratitude Connection: Embrace the positive power of thanks
When your bio is starting to sound good to you, share it with your family, friends, readers, your editor - people you respect who can give you constructive advice. They tend to see some awesomeness of yours that you have failed to include. And they can tell you (in a nice way) if you’ve gone on too long or veered off track.
Congratulations! After all that, you should now have a strong bio that introduces you to your ideal reader and motivates them to invest in you and your book!