Your author bio is a short description of yourself that immediately follows your story’s end. It also appears on the websites of your publisher and book distributors such as Amazon.com, and is featured in catalogs, book-club guides, and other promotional materials. Its secondary purpose is to promote you. Its primary function is to satisfy the readers who have been entertained and maybe even emotionally moved by your story and now sincerely want to learn something about you. You don’t want a hastily written author bio to come across as too coy, smarmy, immature, disingenuous, unprofessional, or obnoxious.
As soon as you send your author bio to your publisher, it is beyond your control. Your publisher copies your author bio to the websites of Amazon.com and other book distributors. The reviewers obtain your author bio from search engines and post it to their blogs along with your cover art to introduce your book to their readers. If readers find your author bio off-putting, they might hesitate to buy your next book. After all, there is already an overwhelming flood of entertainment choices out there aggressively competing for their money.
You might be thinking that it is your author bio and you can rewrite it whenever you want. This is true when it comes to updating your own website. Also, self-published authors are given publisher access to their own promotional pages by distributors such as Amazon.com, which is handy for making changes. But what about the sold copies of your book, which contain your old author bio? What if you are traditionally published (that is, not self-published)? Changing your author bio on your publisher’s website can practically require an act of Congress or Parliament – and understandably so. Publishers have no time to be tweaking their websites constantly to accommodate every tiny change to every author’s bio.
Give your author bio much thought and revision before you submit it to your publisher. You want something brief, sincere, and appealing, and you can’t go wrong with thanking the readers. Try to reveal something personal without compromising your privacy. For example, tell the readers why you love the region in which you set your books, or describe the type of books you like to read and write. Don’t try to appear mysterious or cool by filling your author bio with smarmy, meaningless lines such as, “[Author] is old enough to know better and too young to care.” Sarcastic author-bios slap down the readers’ sincere interest in getting to know you. Likewise, consider keeping specific details to a minimum, especially about current events in your life, because things could change over time. You might gush in your author bio about your boyfriend and even add clickable links to promote the web-business that you are starting together, only to regret it one year later when your boyfriends steals the business, leaving you with an out-of-date author bio that promotes him.
I recommend including only one URL in your author bio – the link to your author website, which should never change. This allows the reader to seek more information at your website, if they wish. On your website, you can go into further detail about whatever aspects of your life that you wish. Your website is a place where you can easily edit the information that forms your image as an author.