Branding and Messaging, or Why Your Author Bio Matters
Welcome to Day Five of our course. Now that you’ve had a chance to set up your website and hone your books page, let’s talk about the author bio page.
Let’s talk about author bios more generally, because in the days to come, this is going to become important. Your author bio is more than just saying what you write and what you do. You’re setting the tone for your author brand, and it’s going to ripple across your entire online author platform.
Your Author Brand: The Why behind Your What
Before we dig in, take a moment and listen to this TED talk from Simon Sinek. It’s 18 minutes long, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll feel like only two minutes have gone by because this might very well rock your world.
As an author, don’t just think about what you write. Think about why, and more importantly, ground yourself in this and let that shine through everywhere in your platform. No doubt it shines in your writing—the most important part!—so now think of how it can shine on your platform.
This is your author brand.
I write epic fantasy stories that are a darker rendition of Tolkien’s stories of Middle-Earth, but in my author bio, I talk about how as a child, my fascination with the map of Wilderland on my grandmother’s bookshelf combined with a fascination for horror movies and comic books.
What is my why? It’s found in that story about the little boy intrigued by horror stories, who then discovered imaginary worlds he couldn’t get enough of and decided to create his own to tell, and whose childhood fascination with darker stories and stark truths led to the creation of something grittier than the kindly world of Hobbits.
That’s the force behind the work I do, and in my author bio and my very platform and engagement—my author brand—that ripples through.
What Is Your Author “Why?”
Here is an exercise to help you create your author bio page:
1. Sit down and try to objectively list out exactly what you write. Be clinical about it, strip it right down to the elements. Mention main genre, secondary genres, and especially your influences.
2. Now think of where this all began. What drove you to write this in the first place? Was it a specific life experience—like me with Grandma’s shelf, looking into Wilderland?
3. Write a paragraph about what you write, but from the perspective of why you write it, using 1) and 2) to help.
4. Can you strip it down to one sentence? Your goal is to have a paragraph (about 50-100 words) and a shorter tagline (less than 80 characters) that captures your “why.”
5. Now take the paragraph you came up with in 4) and add another paragraph mentioning your significant life experiences and publishing credits. Feel free to add a bit about your hobbies and interests (try to keep it down to three paragraphs max).
This is now your author bio for your author bio page! (And more, as you’ll see in the next few days.)
Put your author “why” front and center in your bio to establish your brand. Just telling readers what you write is not enough to make you stand out. Telling them why will give them a sense of why what you write matters to you—and ultimately, to them.
Tomorrow, we’ll move onto the next important step to setting up your author platform: the world of reviews and blurbs.
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