Last updated Mar 29, 2024 | Author blog

So you’ve spent all the time and effort polishing up your short story, essay, or novel into burnished perfection. The hard part’s over, right? Not so fast, writer! You still need to nail your author bio: the calling card that proudly announces you and your craft to the world.

Writing an author bio can be intimidating, especially for writers at the start of their career. Not to worry — we’ll take you through everything you need to know about writing a stellar author bio that will make you look, sound, and feel like a pro.

Why do writers need an author bio?

Your author bio is your first — and often, only — chance to connect with your reader. It introduces them to you on both a professional and a human level. It positions you as the best person to write the book (or story, essay, or poem) that you’ve written and encourages the reader to trust you.

You’ll find yourself using your author bio in countless places along your writing journey. If you publish in a literary journal, the journal will want an author bio to put next to your story. If you’re invited to speak at an event such as a literary festival or convention, the organiser will want an author bio to put next to your name in the programme. And, of course, your author bio will feature on the back of your published book.

Because you’ll find yourself reaching for your author bio so often, it’s a good idea to have a few ready to go from the start. Then, you can tweak them here and there as you build up your credits and experience.

How long should an author bio be?

When someone asks you for an author bio, they’ll usually specify how long they want it to be (depending on how much space they have available): up to 50 words, up to 100 words, or up to 150 words. If they don’t specify a word count, you can assume up to 150 words. Any longer than that and the publisher or facilitator will probably end up editing it down.

For this reason, it’s helpful to write out three versions of your author bio adhering to each of these three word counts. That way, you’re not caught off guard and can simply copy and paste one of your back-pocket bios as needed.

What should I include in my author bio?

At a minimum, an author bio should include:

  • Your name (don’t forget this!)
  • Your headline publication credits
  • Any awards you’ve won for your writing
  • What genre or style you write in (note: if you write in vastly different genres — for instance, tax analytics manuals by day and bodice-ripping epic fantasy by night — you may find it helpful to write two sets of author bios catering to each of these separate audiences.)
  • Where to find you (your author website or social media handle)

Some authors like to share elements which they feel strongly define their identity, such as ethnicity, sexuality, or marital status. This is entirely personal preference; these elements might help you connect more strongly with certain readers.

If you have the space for it, or if you don’t have many publication credits to share yet, it’s also helpful to add in some details about who you are as a person. What do you like doing on your days off? What are you passionate about? This will help further develop that connection with your readers.

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What should I avoid in my author bio?

While it’s helpful to show your humanity in an author bio, be cautious of getting too personal in such a limited space, unless the personal information you’re sharing is directly relevant to the subject of your book. An author bio should be a concise, professional calling card for you as a craftsperson and artist.

Also be careful of unintentional backhanded compliments that highlight your shortcomings. For example, saying “Even though she never studied creative writing formally, she’s been a passionate storyteller all her life” draws a reader’s attention to the author’s lack of formal education. It’s better just to say “She’s been a passionate storyteller all her life.” Cut out words like “Even though”, “Despite”, and so forth.

Finally, avoid things that root your author bio in a particular time. For instance, phrases like “he’s hard at work on his debut novel”, or “he’ll be appearing at this year’s WriterCon” will only be true for a limited period. Try to keep your author bio “evergreen”, which means it’s always relevant and true.

Three examples of effective author bios

To see how this looks in practice, here are a few effective examples of a well-written author bio.

Up to 50 words:

Sandra Lonleyhart is an author and essayist best known for her Frog Prince Award-winning novel, The Smart Girl’s Guide to Dumb Luck. Her hilarious, heartwarming, and thought-provoking essays have appeared in Vanity Flair, Harper’s Bizarre, Gin & Tonic, and elsewhere. You can find out more about her at sandralonleyhart.com.

Up to 100 words:

Sandra Lonleyhart is a marketing executive-turned-author and essayist. Her debut novel, The Smart Girl’s Guide to Dumb Luck, won the Frog Prince Award and was shortlisted for the Phoenix Rising First Novel Award. Her essays have appeared in venues like Vanity Flair, Harper’s Bizarre, Gin & Tonic, Viper, JessieBell, Drop That Curling Iron, and more. Sandra is passionate about helping women navigate the social minefield that is life and showing them that they’re not alone. You can find out more about her at sandralonleyhart.com or on Instagram @sandra.lonely.heart.

Up to 150 words:

After breaking free of the cold, hard world of cosmetic marketing, Sandra Lonleyhart turned to writing feminist essays and fiction. Her debut novel, The Smart Girl’s Guide to Dumb Luck, won the Frog Prince Award and was shortlisted for the Phoenix Rising First Novel Award. Her essays have appeared in venues like Vanity Flair, Harper’s Bizarre, Gin & Tonic, Viper, JessieBell, Drop That Curling Iron, and more. Sandra is passionate about helping women navigate the social minefield that is life and showing them that they’re not alone. When she’s not writing, you might find her reading the latest domestic thriller, trying every flavour of ice cream from Baskin-Robbins, or petting other people’s dogs. You can find out more about her at sandralonleyhart.com or on Instagram @sandra.lonely.heart.

Fija Callaghan is an author, poet, and unapologetic daydreamer. Her work has been shortlisted and longlisted for a number of short story prizes, and you can find her writing in publications like Gingerbread House, Crow & Cross Keys, Corvid Queen, and Mythic Magazine. When not writing or helping other writers get the best out of their work, she can be found haunting her local bookshops or watching the tide come in.

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Join our email list for content and opportunities to help you develop your writing, promote your books, and build your author business.