Sunday, November 24, 2013

Marketing Tools: Composing an Author Bio

By: Stephanie Burkhart 

Happy Thanksgiving! I know this week will be a busy one. There's grocery shopping, hunting down turkeys, baking pies, and decorating. It's a time to enjoy family and friends. From the 4RV family and me, enjoy the holiday! Don't forget to take a moment and give thanks for those special people and moments in your life.

As you go about marketing your latest release, one request that always comes up is your author bio. It's needed for the back of your book, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, (the booksellers), your author's web page, blog entries, and query letters to name a few. Each request needs to be "tailored" to fit. Some author bios are expected to be shorter than others.

What should be in an author bio? I'd recommend making bullet points first. Include everything.

Where you were born
Highest degree obtained
Outside activities

Now that you've got your bullet points, it's time to write. My tip: infuse humor when you can. A little humor goes a long way to attracting potential readers. Also try to go in chronological order of what's happened in your life.

A "full" biography might take 150 words. Try not to go over that. Consider using that bio for query letters and the back of your book.

A "medium" sized bio might not be so comprehensive. I'd say it should consist of roughly 50-75 words. Include where you're born, highest degree obtained, accomplishments, and 1-2 personal items. A medium bio is also good for query letters, your web pages, and depending, blog spots.

A "short" bio is one-to-three sentences that should tell a snippet about you. Focus this bio on what you're doing now.

Here's mine roughly:  Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She enjoys writing romance and children's novels. A cub scout mom, she also own a very sweet golden retriever who loves to counter surf. Her 4RV books include "The Giving Meadow" and "First Flag of New Hampshire." You can find her at:

Another tip: If you can, leave a link for your website or blog.

I use my short bio mostly for visiting blogs, but I always have it handy when I meet people, for the back of business cards, postcards, bookmarks, and other promotional opportunities.

I'd love to hear your thoughts, comments, and feedback for composing author bios. It's a great marketing tool to have!


  1. Stephanie, great article, and boy, can I relate. Back around 2005 when I first acquired a website, I was clueless, and turned to one of my kids. He wrote a paragraph about me, bless him.

    Now I keep a file with several versions of my bio. Here's part of one of them :
    Born and raised in New York City, Margaret Fieland has lived in the Boston area since 1978. She is an avid science fiction fan, and selected Robert A. Heinlein's “Farmer in the Sky” for her tenth birthday, now long past. In spite of earning her living as a computer software engineer, she turned to one of her sons to put up the first version of her website, a clear indication of the computer generation gap. Thanks to her father's relentless hounding, she can still recite the rules for pronoun agreement in both English and French. She can also write backwards and wiggle her ears.
    Following that is stuff about what I've written. I have both shorter and longer versions.

  2. Great article, Stephanie, and Happy Thanksgiving to you and all at 4RV, too! Humor seems to be the key, especially when trying to connect with children. My favorite author bios include a funny tidbit about themselves at the same age as their readers. For example, in fourth grade I wrote and illustrated a story and bound it with cardboard and wallpaper scraps. That was the moment I knew I had to write a book for real someday.

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  4. Stephanie, you're absolutely right. A Bio is a must for all writers and having a bit of humor in it does help connect better with the reader. Thanks for sharing.

    I think part of one of mine has, "She put down her pencil and took up the pen." This refers to being an accountant and moving on over to writing.

    Margaret, great Bio excerpt!

  5. Great suggestions, Stephanie. I do like the idea to add the links where you can be found. I think writing info is important, but also a bit of personal stuff to get to know the author. Thanks for your post.

  6. Good ideas, Stephanie. I've always hated writing my bio. You make it sound easier though. Back to the drawing board. :) Thanks.