How to write your About the Author Page
You’ve finished your novel and are keen get it out there, in front of readers. But wait, there’s a long list of things to do first: front cover, interior formatting, all that legal text on the copyright page, and so on. When it finally comes to writing your About the Author page, it seems like just one more thing to write.
And anyway, what is there to say? So, you do a quick jokey paragraph, heave a sigh of relief, and consider it done.
What readers want from an About the Author page
Think about how you feel when, having just finished a book you enjoyed, you get to the About the Author page and it doesn’t really say anything.
As a writer, particularly if you’re a first-time writer, you may feel that nobody wants to know anything about you, or perhaps even that there’s not much to know, and having an About the Author page just highlights the fact.
But an About the Author page isn’t about impressing anyone. Sure, if you have won awards, or have published books, articles, essays, recipes, then let the reader know. But readers don’t only turn to the About the Author page to be impressed.
(The exception to this is if your book is non-fiction and you need to present your credentials for writing about the subject, or if your book is fiction and is based, in some way, on your real experience or knowledge, and you feel that readers will want to know this.)
Readers who turn to the About the Author page want to know about the author. They don’t really care if you haven’t had a book published before, because, by picking up your book and glancing at your About the Author page, they’ve already decided they’re interested in it. (Or, if they’ve just finished reading your book and turn to your About the Author page, they’re obviously impressed enough by what you’ve written to want to know more.)
In other words, what a reader wants from an About the Author page is to know something about you as a person. Something real. It doesn’t have to be impressive, but it should feel genuine.
(And we’re not saying it shouldn’t include humour. But if it’s only a throwaway joke, it can be disappointing, particularly if a reader was moved by your book and wants to feel some sort of connection with you — which will lead to their reading your other books.)
So, what do you put?
Planning your About the Author page
Here are a list of things you might say about yourself on your About the Author page.
Go through it, looking for items you can use, or can just say something about. If you find something, write it down.
Note that not all of these are about you as a writer, but they’re all about you as a person. And that’s what a reader might be wanting to learn. Where you were born might sound a silly thing to put in an About the Author page, but if your reader knows the place, it might make them warm to you a little. If not, it’s very unlikely to make them hate you. And either way, it builds up their picture of you as a person.
Which is what the About the Author page is all about.
- Where you were born (country, county/state, city or town)
- Where you live now (country, county/state, city or town, or just “the countryside”)
- Other places you have lived, if you have an interesting or varied list
- The school/college/university you graduated from or studied at
- The subject you studied
- What you have written and published, or had published
- Writing-related awards you have won, or been top-listed for
- Writing-related qualifications you have earned
- “He/she loves the work of...” [writers you particularly admire]
- Accolades for your writing, quotes from press or fellow authors
- Blogs you have written or contributed to, or run
- Websites, periodicals, newspapers, magazines you have contributed to
- Other things you have created, or been part of creating — films, games, events, plays, courses, clubs, societies, websites
- Social activities you play a prominent role in — online communities, formal (forums, specific websites) or informal (#writingcommunity)
- Movements or campaigns you’ve been involved in
- You “day job” (if it’s not writing), or occupation
- A list of other jobs and occupations you’ve had in the past — they don’t have to be impressive, only interesting. This isn’t a job application, but a personal statement.
- Academic qualifications
- Your hobbies — activities, crafts, things you collect, sports, amateur theatricals
- Awards or accolades you’ve earned from your hobbies or activities
- What you’re researching, or love to learn about, or have a special interest in
- What you are trying to do with your writing (“loves telling exciting stories / wants to change the way we look at the world / is always searching for the next perfect sentence…”)
- Charities or non-profit organisations you work for, or campaign for
- “He/she lives in [country/county/state/city/town] with his/her [husband/wife/spouse/partner/kids/pets]”
- “...where he/she [blogs daily about… / loves to take walks in the foothills / other daily activities]”
- “He/she is currently [working on a novel about… / blogging about… / campaigning to protect… / other work-in-progress or constant crusade]”
- “His/her website/blog can be found at…”
- “He/she can be found on Twitter/Facebook/Goodreads/etc. posting about…”
- What you love or are passionate about
- Why you write what you write — a love of the horror genre, a fascination with what drives a normal person to commit a crime
- Why you wrote this book
- “She/he most recently [did something interesting…]”
And this list is by no means exhaustive. If there’s anything you feel someone has to know before they can even beging to say they know you, put it in.
How do you want to be known?
Writing your About the Author page
You should now have a list of things to say about yourself.
It might be long, it might be short, but surely it will be something.
(You might like to leave the list a day or so, and add to it as things occur to you.)
Now, play around with the order, seeing how it flows. A chronological narrative? Most relevant to least relevant? Or from factual (jobs, publications) to personal (loves, home)?
Or you might just want to dive in and write away, ticking statements off as you go. (And you don’t have to include them all. Just enough to provide some personality.)
About the Author pages are, generally, written in the third person, but it’s usually obvious that the author themselves are the ones writing it. So, feel free to use the first person if you want, or use humour, if it fits with your writing.
How to start
If you’re stuck for a beginning sentence, try one of these, and see where it takes you:
- [Your name] is a [optionally, your nationality; or, your genre; or some other identifier] writer and... critic? editor? self-publisher? stage-magician? full-time mom?
- [Your name]’s writing has appeared in…
- [Your name] began writing in…
- [Your name] has been writing [your genre] since…
- [Your name] was born in [country/town/city] and… soon moved? went to X school? has been there ever since?
- [Your name] has a [your best qualification]…
- [Your name] has always [told stories, invented worlds, written about X]...
- When not writing his/her next novel, [Your name] is to be found...