Most writers are happier with bios that they have written themselves, rather than letting a publisher decide what should be included. A typical bio will include two main things -- personal information that make you seem more real to the reader, and information that lets the reader know why you are qualified to write about the subject. Most bios are, at most, only a few paragraphs long (many are only one paragraph), so each sentence should convey some of the needed information.
Your bio is one place where you definitely want your writing skills to shine.
Here's how to write your bio:
- Personal information: The personal information that writers want to include varies, but most will include the area where they reside, including the city and state or the region. Most bios will mention whether the person is married, has children and pets, etc. You might also include your favorite writers and books that have influenced you. Interests and hobbies are a nice personal touch that will strengthen your connection with readers, and they do not have to be related to the subject matter of the writing. Some writers also like to have a personal motto or a quote that has inspired them.
- Qualifications: After some personal information, it is a good idea to describe what makes you a qualified writer. In order to trust a writer, especially with non-fiction information, there should be some mention of education or work experience in the field. Even if the experience is informal, state your credentials. Most people will mention their degree type and subject, and one or more jobs they have held, as well as any awards that have been received.
- Promote other work: If you have been published before, or have a website, this is an excellent space to grab new readers for those works. Many readers will seek out more of your work and will like having this information, so it is not solely for your benefit.
- Add a little humor: Many readers enjoy reading a small humorous item about the writer, though sometimes this tactic may be inappropriate. Whether you choose to include some small tidbit about yourself (i.e., "I live on a .2 acre goat farm that doesn't have goats on it at the moment," or, "I have two dogs and am engaged to a wonderful man, though he doesn't know about it yet"), consider the tone and subject matter of the material. If your work is a gritty true crime book, a humorous tidbit is probably not appropriate. But for many other works, including humor and personal memoirs, a humorous touch can be a great way to connect more personally with the reader. Some writers like to include strange jobs that they have held in the past. Others like to throw in nonsensical items like the examples above, and some will put in a humorous quote that is sure to make the reader laugh.
- Decide on a tense: Bios are split between those written in first person and others written in third. Some writers feel that a first person bio makes a better connection to readers, and some feel that a third person bio looks more professional.
Bios can also be written with a combination of both first and third person. If you are using a combination, it should make textural sense. For example, consider having the majority of it in third person and adding first person quotes. This combination can also be achieved by writing the personal information in first person and the qualifications in the third.