As authors, we often don’t spend enough time crafting our bios. Most of us write up a quick “about me” and never give it a second thought. There’s a problem with this tactic: it’s the wrong way to drive sales on Amazon and other sites.
If fact, as I look over author bios, you might be surprised how many are lackluster. Sure, they talk about the author, but mostly about their hobbies, where they live, and how they like to pass the time (when they aren’t writing). If you feel like this describes your bio, then this article is for you! It’s time to make your Amazon bio into a killer sales driver on Amazon. Here’s how!
Start with an Outline and all Book Tie-ins
Before you begin, create a list or an outline of anything that you’ve done related to the book. This can include research, work you’ve done in a related industry, accreditations, other books you’ve written, or awards you’ve won. You may want to include some of these pieces, but not all of them. The rest of these bullets will help you determine that.
It’s Not About You
Remember that while we started this focusing on you and your achievements, this bio really isn’t about you. It’s about your reader and knowing what your prospective audience is looking for. So let’s have a look at Mark Shaefer’s bio that I plucked from Amazon. His bio is keenly focused on his expertise as it relates to the book. So, having read Mark’s other books and seen him speak, I can tell you that he’s probably got a lot more he could have added to this, but he kept it short and relevant to the book.
Write in Third Person
When it comes to writing a bio, never use words like “I” and “me” because writing a bio in first person is an awkward read.
Show the Reader your Expertise
Be Credible: There’s nothing wrong with being a first-time author, and when it comes to the credible portion of this Amazon bio you are working, or reworking, this may seem tricky. But remember this is where your initial work comes in. How long have you been writing? Did you utilize any special techniques or resources in this book?
Check out Pete Ryan’s bio, he’s a first-time author but he leads this bio with his background as a journalist which tells the reader that he has some experience in book writing. Pete is also a marketing guy and has a successful business in So Cal, but you’ll notice he doesn’t even mention that, because it doesn’t really matter to his readers and Pete knows this.
Add in Keywords Particular to Amazon
As I often say, keywords matter greatly on Amazon so if you’ve done your keyword research, add these to your Amazon bio, too. Now you don’t have to worry about re-working your book cover to include these keywords, this really only matters on Amazon. So how many should you include in your bio? Well, as many as you authentically can. Meaning don’t slam your bio full of keywords just for the sake of having them in there.
Why does this matter? Well I’ve talked about how Amazon is a search engine and, like a search engine, will spider your book page for keywords, so make sure at least one or two of the keywords you’ve found are in your bio.
Be Personal (if appropriate)
There’s a time and a place to write a personal-type bio. If you’ve written something that’s been a personal struggle for you, like maybe a memoir. J.D. Vance’s book (released in 2016) features a great example of a bio that’s a bit more personal. You’ll see he talks a bit less about his experience and more about his personal background, where he lives and his dogs.
Be funny (if appropriate)
Be like what you wrote about – and that means if it’s funny, then be funny. Check out this bio from Karen Alpert, her book: I Heart My Little A-Holes: A bunch of holy-crap moments no one ever told you about parenting.
Short is the New Long
The days of long, winding bios that rival the length of your book are gone. Keep it short because while people do care who wrote the book, they don’t care enough to read paragraphs upon paragraphs about you. This is for your website, the foundation of your infrastructure, and where readers can go to learn even more about you!
Customize It & Change it Up
Is there something going on in the world that ties into your book? Then mention it, change up your bio. You can change up your Amazon bio as much as you want. And if you’re reading this and with a traditional publisher and thinking “they won’t let me change my bio!” trust me you don’t need your publisher to do this, just change it up in your Amazon Author Central Page and voila, done and done.
You should also modify your Amazon bio as you win awards, get more mentions, get some fab new reviews, for example: “The New York Times calls this book groundbreaking…” which you could easily add at the end of your bio to close it out.
Include a Call to Action & How Readers Can Find You
So, do you want your readers to take action somehow? Are you giving something away on your website? Or do you have an exclusive reader group that you want to invite readers to? Want them to join your newsletter? Then mention this in your bio. Also, be sure to add your website address so they can find you.
Now your Amazon bio is ready to rock. As an indie author, you’ll find that this is invaluable not only to your book marketing but also to your book sales. So, invest the time now and you’ll have something to build from as you publish more books. And, remember that bullet list? Keep it saved somewhere accessible, you never know when it will come in handy for future projects and books!
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Penny Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc. (AME) and Adjunct Professor at NYU, is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns.