[Before we start, have you followed 10 new people yet?]
It’s all about YOU!
Yesterday was a big-picture assessment of your homepage. Day 6 hones in on your Bio, which you need for your website as well as every social media platform you’ve got. Let’s make sure you are presenting the best possible version of yourself (that’s still truthful of course).
I sorta cheated on this task, since my home page right now is my bio page, and I worked on that yesterday. But I do need to revisit the bios I have on Twitter (oh, wow, noticed outdated info right away!) and Insta (how long has that link been broken?! Oh and did you know they now let you add FIVE links on your Insta profile?!). I bet you forgot about those platforms and were only thinking about your website! But they are ALL our brand, and they all have bios–even if just five words. I’ve culled bio tips other professionals (I searched the web so you don’t have to) and blended them with my own advice. For example, Leaders Press lists reasons WHY the bio is so important and offers some tips of their own. You need to have one! So today we create (or enhance) it.
First off, think about your audience. Who is reading this bio? Is it parents, past and potential buyers of your books? Specialists from schools and libraries considering whether to book you for an author signing? Kid fans that read your books? Literally picture them in your mind as you write your bio. As we’ve talked about, different platforms will have slightly different audiences. It’s OK to vary them.
Secondly, write it well! Be engaging! If you can’t write a good bio about yourself, can readers trust you can write a good book? Remember that you are your own brand. Your bio needs to reflect who you are, so that when someone reads it, they “get” you. Some great examples of writing in your own voice are here offered by Rocket Expansion. Granted, those are mainly jacket flap bios, but you get the idea. This bio isn’t for jacket flap, which has an even more centralized audience—potential and current reader/buyer. First work on your webpage since it’ll be the longest. Adapt accordingly for Insta, Twitter, etc.
Third, don’t sweat wordcount. It can be as simple as a paragraph. Don’t bore anyone by cramming in too much information no one needs. (You’ll have stricter parameters on most of the other platforms.)
Lastly, don’t forget a CALL TO ACTION! More on that below.
On websites, I’ve always appreciated the almost-all-encompassing two or three sentence bio, followed by a few paragraphs of more-detail-that-isn’t-crucial-but-is-nice-to-have. That way, if your reader only has a few seconds, they can get enough from those first few sentences. It’s something they can cut and paste if they need to introduce you. To nail down the super short “elevator pitch” of your bio, check out Scribe Media (scroll about halfway down to Template heading).
OK, let’s get down to it. What should you include on your bio page?
- Where you’re from, and where you live now. I like to keep this generic, as in “from NY, now live in CA” as I honestly don’t think it’s anyone’s business what town or exact city I live in. Plus, with cybersecurity issues, you don’t want to give out too much info on yourself. But if you have an unusual city name, like Boring, OR – please keep it! Have some fun with it.
- Personal info but IMHO only AS IT PERTAINS TO YOUR WRITING such as if you write about the environment and you have a biology degree. Or, say, if you mainly write male characters b/c you are a mom of four boys, talk about how they influence story ideas or creative work hours.
- Toss in some “PERSONAL TAGS” like something you’d call out on a main character to show their personality or make them memorable. Do you love Orange Crush? Root only for the Mets? Enjoy fly fishing? Hate the Oxford comma? Show readers what makes you uniquely you. Be relatable!
- Recognition or awards you’ve received. Go ahead and toot your own horn! But no need to be a jerk about it. “I was excited to win the MOMMA 2022 Book of the Year” is different than “I beat out 200 other mostly-lame entries to capture the coveted award that most other authors only dream about” which makes you sound like a poo-poo-head. Be specific, spell out all acronyms, and give dates/years (unless it’s over 8ish years ago as then it’s old news so don’t give the year). Bonus points if you can toss in a few kid-friendly things like “baton champ of 5th grade” or “voted worst penmanship in 12th grade.” Remember that note about being relatable?
- Books published. If none, don’t say you’re unpublished. Consider saying something descriptive like you have “a middle-grade novel for shy girls in the works.” Find tips for unpublished writers from Gatekeeper Press here.
- Your main age level and genre. For example, although I have CB and MG manuscripts that I’m working on, I am mainly a PB fiction writer, so that’s what I talk about. If I get published in the other age ranges, I’ll talk more about them. If you say you “write for all ages” then it looks like you’re unfocused. It’s more impressive to be specialized.
- ALL your current social media handles WITH LINKS. (If you haven’t updated Pinterest since 2006, say, don’t include it.)
- Headshot that’s within the last 5 years please! NOTE: HEADSHOTS ARE TOMORROWS TOPIC so no excuses for an outdate selfie.
- People love pets so feel free to also add a few of those.
- Book covers! Add all of ‘em. Feel free to have the pic linked to an indy book store where the book can be purchased—but do NOT say anything about buying the books. Simply have the linked book cover images.
YOUR CALL TO ACTION
- Don’t miss the opportunity to ask people to leave a comment, sign up for your mailing list, click on a link to your blog or recent recorded interview, follow you on social media (with links), etc. Do NOT have the call to action be a sales pitch. No one likes that. It ruins the great impression you’ve just created.
Did we miss anything? Let me know if you have crucial info you think has to be included.
Once you hone your revised bio, make sure you update your bio’s main points on all your social media accounts. They don’t have to be exact; as mentioned, most people have slightly different personalities on each platform. But make sure they sync up and make sure they are all current.
Recap: Update and rework your bio(s!) as needed. Make sure each social media service you use has a bio that fits the audience (adapt your new one accordingly).
Happy multi bio-ing!