The dreaded author bio. It’s like a homework assignment. But you need an A+.

“Write about yourself in 40 words or less. Go!” Ugh. For even the most seasoned professionals who have plenty to say about themselves (and usually love doing so), it’s still an art and a science to get it right. In this post, we’ll cover just a few basic points that can help you improve your author bio.

Even though this paragraph is allegedly “about you,” it’s actually not about you at all. It’s about your reader. Sure, you’re the object, but your reader is the subject. — Neil Patel, from Hubspot’s How to Write an Author Bio That Doesn’t Suck

1. No, really, it’s not about you, it’s about them.

OK, fine, it’s your bio, but it’s important to connect to your readers. They want to know about you to see if they can relate to you, to see if they like you, to see if they might want to buy your book.

Yes, write about you and your experience and why you’re the person to be writing this book, but keep their perspective in mind–what’s in it for them?

2. Write in your own voice

This is your chance–hopefully not your only chance–to get a paragraph in front of potential readers. If it reads like a boring resume to work in the corporate headquarters of a bank, chances just went down that readers are going to be inspired about your work … unless you’re writing about corporate banking. Check out how Damien T. Taylor writes (part of his) his bio below.

Write in your own voice

Damien T. Taylor clearly writes in his own voice.

3. Authority

Who are you and why should I care?

If you are a household name (e.g. Oprah, Michael Lewis, etc.), first of all, thank you for reading our post here, but for your author bio, you’re so well known that you hardly need to add more than your name and we will have enough to go on in our decision process to buy your book or not. I mention Michael Lewis because he’s an example of an author where I would buy anything he wrote–so he doesn’t even need a bio.

For the rest of us mere mortals, it’s a very important part of our Book Sales Page. Here’s what Tucker Max has to say on the subject:

Author reputation” is consistently cited as one of the main factors that influence book buying. If you can establish yourself as an authority on your book topic, readers will be much more inclined to buy your book, read it, and regard you the way you want them to. — Tucker Max in How to Write Your Author Bio (And Why It Matters)

Enough to get started? Write out several versions, rip them to shreds, start over and you’ll be on your way to an author bio that will have them lining up to buy your books. Well, if they have lines at Amazon …