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The Malleable Author Bio

Your Author Bio and Readers


Your author bios are an important part of your book marketing package. Your bio is your introduction to the world as an author. Think of it as a news story not a memoir. The main point of your author bio is to get new readers for your books.

Your bio will be read by a number of different audiences.

  • Individual buyers and potential buyers
  • Journalists – editors, freelancers, reporters
  • Bloggers – like photographs
  • Reviewers
  • Retailers – both online and brick and mortar
  • Event planners – speaking circuit
  • Anyone who wants to promote you or your book – LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.

Each of those audiences is looking for information in a different way. Having a set of author bios is the best way to address the needs of those varying readers.

Author Bios not One Bio

Every author needs four biographies of different lengths.

  1. The two-line bio – The size of a tweet or a bit longer. Who you are and genre.

Biotemplates illustrates two examples of short bios that reflect the tone and style of the author.

Norman Langford grew up spying on the neighbours and taking notes in a little black book. No surprise that he ended up writing spy novels!
Dr. Laura Smith has been writing on gender studies for over 20 years. Her research interests include mothering, gender roles and media representation of women.

2. Short: 50 word bio – Used for guest blogging, at the end of your own blog posts, or a press release for a new book. Who you are, your genre, and a title or two.
3. Medium: 100 word bio – Contributor pages in a print publications, social media profiles, etc. Who you are, your genre, a title or two, and a pertinent to your writing fact.
4. Long: 400-600 word bio – About me on your website.  This is your opportunity to illustrate the theme of your writing as well as list your all your books and literary achievements and awards.

Author David Amerland uses a theme based bio on his website written to intrigue readers with his line of books.
You can augment the about me biography with videos based on your protagonist. Crime writer Adrian McKinty mixes the favorite drink of his character, Sean Duffy.

​If you plan on speaking either before large groups on on radio or television the best bio length is a 250-300 speaker introduction. Put in the basics and a few intriguing details (why people would want to hear your speak) but not as much detail as the Long bio. This length also works for your publisher author pages like Amazon, Nook, iBooks and the like.

The Malleable Bio – Change the Bio to Meet the Audience

I was chatting recently with award winning thriller writer Laurence O’Bryan about various places writers use their biography. I told him I have what I call my Malleable Bio. It’s the one I use most frequently which is the short 50-word bio.

Your bio is a marketing tool. In all marketing the buyer comes first. Using the base biography you can tweak it to the audience. For example, if you are guest blogging, take a look at the blog’s author’s readers. The target message for general book readers will be much more generic than for a thriller or romance oriented audience. You can add just a couple of words to zero in on that blog’s reader audience. The same goes for a bio for journals or newspapers in a press release. Or an audience for a speaking engagement.

As long as you have the base bio written, a few minutes and a few words will help your bio hit home with readers.

The Instant Marketing Tool

Modern literary criticism is based solely on the work itself without any details about the author. But readers love to know about you, the author. Give them a taste of your talent and personality. They don’t have to like you as a person, but they do need to be intrigued.

Wherever you are in your author journey, your author bios help you connect with your readers. If you don’t know where to start, read several bios by authors in your genre to get an idea of how to represent yourself. If you write in pen names in several categories, you need to create a set of bios for each of your names.

If your book is not released yet, now is the time to create your bios.
Get all your bios written. You can go back and tweak later. The main idea is to have those bios ready when someone asks.
Zara Altair

Zara Altair writes mysteries set in ancient Italy. Argolicus thinks he has retired, but he and his tutor, Nikolaos are drawn into puzzles, politics, and murder.

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