How to Write an Author Bio to Accompany Your Byline

These examples of long and short author bios, plus tips for writers of magazine articles, book contributions, book proposals, or blog posts, will help you learn how to write your own author bio (biography) to accompany your byline.

Just the other day I was asked how to write a bio by a fellow writer on Twitter. The same day, a different author asked if she could interview me for a book she’s writing about how to acquire a literary agent. She asked me to contribute an author bio for that book — making that day officially my “author bio” day!

So, here’s what I know about writing a long or short author bio. If you’re promoting your book, read How to Self-Publish & Market Your Own Book: A Simple Guide for Aspiring Writers — it’ll help you sell more copies!

How to Write a Long or Short Author Bio

Quick tips for an author biography:

  • Include your most impressive writing credentials.
  • Write it in the third person. Not only is this more professional, it allows you to be objective and balanced about your credentials and experience.
  • Mention your education, training, and work experience if it directly relates to the topic of the article.
  • Explore the author bios in various magazine articles and book excerpts for ideas. For instance, I found several great ones on YahooShine and BlogHer.
  • Provide “live” links your name and blog, whether it’s for a print or online magazine. Some editors will post the magazine article online, and include your bio (check your author agreement and types of copyright for details).
  • Provide a short and a long version; let the editor choose which is most suitable. It’s better to offer a little too much than not enough.
  • Ask the editor if you should send a photo. If yes, then send two or three.

One of my most important tips for writing an author bio for is to remember that it is a work in progress. It can and should change, depending on your writing career, magazine articles, book contributions, or book proposals.

When writing your long or short author bio, don’t:

  • Get scared or anxious about bragging or sharing your credentials. This is business, fellow scribes. Be professional.
  • Mention your age, race, marital status, number of children, or any personal information – unless it suits the magazine article or book excerpt.
  • Say that you’ve never written for money, never been published in The New Yorker, and never thought you’d be published by that particular e-zine (unless it somehow flows from the article you’ve written).
  • Include url’s such as for online author bios. Instead, format your link as Quips and Tips for Successful Writers (with the link url hidden).

Example of a short author bio

Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen is a full-time freelance writer and blogger; her work has appeared in magazines such as Reader’s Digest, Woman’s Day, Health, Writer’s Digest, MSN Health and sometimes More. She created and maintains a series of Quips and Tips websites, including Quips and Tips for Successful Writers, Quips and Tips for Achieving Your Goals, and Quips and Tips for Couples Coping With Infertility.

Example of a long author biography

The above, plus:

Pawlik-Kienlen is working on her first book: See Jane Soar: Life Lessons From Women Who Weren’t Well-Behaved – which is also a blog! She is represented by Special Agent Jon Sternfeld of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency; her degrees are in Psychology and Education. Pawlik-Kienlen lives on Bowen Island, BC – and she’s also known as The Adventurous Writer.

An even longer author bio includes professional associations, more writing credits, more information about location and past occupations, etc.

If you need more writing experience so you can plump up your author bio, read How to Get Writing Clips.

Are you struggling to make money writing? Read The Well-Fed Writer: Financial Self-Sufficiency as a Commercial Freelancer in Six Months or Less — it’s one of Amazon’s bestselling writing books for a reason. It helps writers build successful freelance careers!

If you have any thought or questions about these tips for writing an author bio for magazine articles or book excerpts, please comment below…


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15 thoughts on “How to Write an Author Bio to Accompany Your Byline”

  1. Hi Laurie!
    Just stumbled upon your blog today while sitting here wondering what I can charge once I have proven myself with my “gratis” article that I have been asked to write for a new magazine. Freelance writing sounds like the perfect career to me and I love that you make it out to be so doable. Like Craig, I was wondering what I can put in my bio as I don’t have any published experience as yet. I have a blog but it isn’t quite ready for release to the public yet! Thanks for your help 🙂

  2. What if someone has no credentials, hasn’t written anything impressive, missed out on a education?
    What if this person has just a obsessive desire, learning as much as he can, and practice with every comment he leaves?

  3. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for your comments….I’ve just re-read this article and realized that both my long and my short author bios have changed dramatically! And I’ve learned a lot in the past couple of years.

    It’s time to write a new article about writing author bios 🙂

  4. Great tips — thanks Meryl and Ben!

    I’ve never really felt like I was bragging when I mentioned my writing credits, but I can totally see how writers feel that way. I think like Meryl: your author bio is a chance for you to “prove” your credentials — and to gain the confidence and respect of readers and editors.

    I don’t change my bio to suit the magazine, but I should. That’s great advice, Ben.

    .-= Laurie PK´s last blog post ..A Top 10 Writing Blog – Quips and Tips for Successful Writers =-.

  5. In the early days, I used to fret about this because I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging … but I know I needed to provide proof that I had decent credentials. Your advice is right on target, Laurie. Thank you.
    .-= Meryl K Evans´s last blog post ..10 Commandments for Writers Using Social Media =-.

  6. Fantastic advice. I’ve just written a book called, ‘Sleeping Your Way to The Top in Business – The Ultimate Guide to Attracting & Seducing More Customers.”

    I find that whenever I contribute to a magazine my bio always changes, even if it is ever so slightly. I feel it’s incredibly important to aim it towards your target market, i.e. the magazines readership base.

    Thanks for the article. 🙂

  7. These are great tips for writing an author bio — thanks Ami!

    I like the idea of thinking of our writing credentials and achievements as facts…not something to be embarrassed about. Successful writers need to accept and share their achievements without fear or shame. We work hard!
    .-= Laurie PK´s last blog post ..Writing Careers – Jobs for Magazine Staff Writers and Editors =-.

  8. Thanks for the great advice. I found writing bios to be difficult until I started keeping a running list of achievements, publications, etc., along with previously written “bio blurbs”. That way when I need a bio, I can go to this document and mix and match based on the publication or publisher’s needs. My credentials and achievements are right in front of me so that I can’t deny them or get modest about them, and I’ve already got basic bios to work from.
    .-= Ami´s last blog post ..Review: You’ve Found Your Specialty – Now What? =-.

  9. I see too many author bios that say cutesy things about the pets in the household. I don’t know why anyone thinks this is a good idea.

  10. Your children might be a successful writer someday. Enrolling them in a writing school will help improve their writing skills making it useful as they grow in school.

  11. Sage advice Laurie. A bio is an excellent opportunity for an author. If it is presented as an option, take full advantage.

    Often times we scribes are hesitant to blow our own horns. We need to get over that and promote ourselves whenever possible.

    .-= Tumblemoose´s last blog post ..Dear Writer, This Is The Wall. You Have Hit Me. What Now? =-.