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« It's All About The Consumer We Don't Know | Main | The Ad Man Answers #54 »

February 11, 2009



Had never thought about my bio in that way--wow. And it's something I can actually fix myself (at least on my website). Made me look at myself, and how I could be more interesting to readers, in a whole new way.

Paul Elwork

I always tend toward very short bios with previous publications and geographic info, partly because I assume no one much cares who I am. But your point is well taken, Barry, and you've caused me to reconsider my views on author bios.

And congrats on the release of the film!

Joe Moore

Good post, Barry. There’s nothing more frustrating than seeing someone take the “but that’s how we’ve always done it” route.


Agree with everything but the mention of previous titles. These establish credentials, something which a brand-new-to-the-author reader will want to see. A multiply published author is clearly a safer bet than one with only one title to his name.

Barry Eisler

Thanks for the comments, folks, and glad my thoughts seem useful. IJ, agreed on the objective -- establishing credentials -- but still believe that a recitation of previous titles is the wrong way to achieve it. "Jane Smith is the NYT-bestselling author of 20 previous books," or "Over 25 million of Jane Smith's books are in print in over 30 languages," or "Jane Smith's 12 previous books have won the X award, the Y award, and the Z award," or whatever strike me as more effective ways to get the job done. It's like exposition to fill in back story -- yes, you need the backstory, but naked exposition is the wrong way to accomplish the task.


Stuart Neville

Excellent post. It's too late for me to have a second look at my book's bio, unfortunately - wish I'd read this a couple of months ago!

Mary Cunningham

Wow! Gotta rewrite my bio!

Missy Jane

Haha, Love it Barry! You make such a great point. I admit to the yawning and placing a book back on the shelf when the jacket flap doesn't catch my interest. Unfortunately that tends to be the blurb.

Karen Lieb

Great info, Barry, thanks. It helps to think in terms of marketing myself to my potential audience as I work on my bio. Professional speakers and politicians do this all of the time . . . authors should too!

Tony A. Curtis

Thanks Barry! Good info to know regarding the bio. Loved your "sushi" anology as compared to marketing"cold, raw, dead, fish" You're right! I have been a saleman for 22 years, insurance, but same concept. Nothing begins until something is sold. Sell the sizzle not the steak. Kudos on your success! I am an aspiring writer currently working on my first book at my pace. Toughest thing I ever attempted but learning much.

Jude Johnson

Hey Barry,

Thanks for confirming what I've always felt: Bios are boring, at least they are to me - until I've finished the book. Then I would rather know what influenced the author than where he or she lives. I haven't put mine on my book jackets, only on the last inside page, and minimal at that. Tony C's right: the sizzle and the aroma definitely start the salivary response for the the steak, and that's really what marketing is about, no matter what you're selling: Make 'em want it. Thanks for being such a generous writer and sharing your knowledge with us. I have so much to learn...

Sue Ann Jaffarian

GREAT post, Barry. My publisher recently used a bio of mine from several years ago in their catalogue. Made me nuts, esp. since bio in last year's catalogue was more up-to-date. Cut 'n paste, sometimes I feel that's all they know how to do. Although I do love my book covers.

Samantha Hunter

The one thing (among many) I love about writing for Harlequin is that they let us write our own book bios, so we can include some fun and funky stuff, as well as the usual patter, and we can change them. I also love writing Reader Letters -- those are great, a chance to talk to the reader about some personal theme or behind the scenes element of the book.

I always feel lucky to write for a Harlequin line that allows me to write my own reader letter. Some of them had the editors do it, and the reader letter was just a summary of all the books out that month -- little more than an advertisement.

My website bio is a kind of dorky interview with my characters -- them asking me questions -- and sometimes I wonder about it, but so many people have told me they get a kick out of it, I'm leaving it there. :)

Interesting topic,


Kimber Chin

So true about bios being part of branding.

I love it when author bios are written in the same voice as the book. A humorous book should have a humorous bio. A casual book should have a casual bio. Etc.

AE Rought

My favorite bio is for my penname:
Ever watch the movie To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar? Remember the little old lady dressed as a drag queen? She looked at the cop and said, “Nothing this pretty could be real.” Well, that’s me—I am not real. I am the hot and naughty erotica writer lurking in the mind of a fantasy author. The cat fights over who has control of the keyboard can get pretty violent, but most often the two creative people in my brain play nicely and I have published books under both names.

Its fun, quirky, in voice and fits that persona. Personally, as a reader, I ignore the author bio--they're dry and boring, like cardboard for the brain. I'm going to read a book for the author's voice and the story, not for the number of years they spent hunched over dusty tomes in college, or the breed of dog they have living with them in their cute little Cape Cod on the East Coast.

Thank you for an excellent post and for opening my eyes to the importance of the author's Bio. To take this one step further, with the proliferation of social network sites, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many more, the bio attached to each of these sites must be reworked to the same standard to establish and maintain a brand. It looks as though I have my work cut out for me as I start to rework all of my various sites.

Thanks for the eye opener... Ray

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