Book Marketing, Part 2 of a 3-Part Series: Your Bio

Last month’s newsletter covered the importance of Competitive Titles in positioning your book.

I wrote that there are three marketing-related aspects to your book proposal that you need to understand and execute well if you want to sell your book in today’s publishing climate:

1. Your Competitive Titles section, which is about positioning your book
2. Your About the Author section, which is about marketing you
3. Your Marketing/Publicity section, which is about marketing your book

This month we’re covering #2, the About the Author section. This may seem like the most straightforward and easy section of the proposal, but if you’ve ever attempted to write your professional bio in this capacity you may already know that it’s actually quite hard.

The three most important things to know are:

1. Write your bio in the third person
2. Don’t leave out anything important, even if it feels like your being boastful or repetitive
3. Make sure your bio sounds like you

1. Write your bio in the third person
It’s important to know that it’s not a dealbreaker if you write your bio in the first person; it’s simply more professional to write it in the third. It also gives you some distance from the content, allowing you to list your achievements and toot your own horn with a little more recklessness.

2. Don’t leave out anything important, even if it feels like your being boastful or repetitive
There are many opportunities to promote yourself throughout your book proposal. It’s a good idea to work on self-promotional language in the query letter, the overview, the marketing section (which we’ll cover next month), and even in the Comparative Title section. But there’s no aspect of the proposal quite like the author bio section. So don’t waste it! Just because you’ve already said something in the query letter doesn’t mean you should leave it out of your author bio. Too often authors leave out important information, like their website URL, or a specific achievement, because they’ve listed it elsewhere. Remember, the book proposal is an exercise in repetition. Most editors are skimming through it looking for things that pop out. And if you’re not comfortable saying how fantastic you are, work on it slowly. Create a “What’s Fabulous About Me” document and save it on your desktop. Add to it over time and allow yourself to be outrageous. Then you can weed out what truly doesn’t belong. In this competitive market, editors are looking for people who stand out, so your author bio is not a place to be humble or modest.

3. Make sure your bio sounds like you
Whether you’re writing a prescriptive how-to, a funny memoir, or your literary masterpiece, you employ a certain tone and style in your work—and you’ve probably found your voice by the time you’re working on your proposal. Use that voice in your proposal, too, and don’t drop it when you get to the author bio. Too often I see lists of accomplishments without much personality showing through. And while I tell my clients not to lead with their hobbies, it’s completely appropriate—even advisable—to include what you love in the last graph of your bio—including where you live and who you live with (partner, animals, children).

Until next month.


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