This is the “About the Author” page. The About page will be one of the most visited pages on your website, so it’s critical to do it well. The point of the About page is to share your personal story, why you wrote the book, what it means to you, who you wrote it for and what you hope they will get out of it.
Don’t bore readers with a massive autobiography, or talk too much about your childhood. People don’t really care about you that much, especially if they haven’t read your book yet. And – you don’t really need to worry much about the people who have read your book; they either liked it or they didn’t – so this page should really focus on the people who don’t know you, haven’t read your books, and aren’t sure whether or not they want to.
So it should be fun, interesting, and clever.
You can use blockquotes like this to change things up and show how witty you are. Or use famous quotes about writing that inspire you.
You need to have a cool looking author photo – or many. For almost all topics and genres, you should be smiling. Traditionally, professional headshots are in black and white but you can use color. You can hire someone on Craigslist to meet in a park and take pictures of you, or any white wall will do. Strong natural light is best but for that “dramatic look” you can stand next to a strong lightbulb or have someone shine a flashlight on one side of you.
Smartphones work great, are there are some amazing apps that will let you make an ordinary photo look artsy (I like Pixlr).
You are the story
Your book is great too, I’m sure, but “publishing a book” isn’t news. You need to be the story. You need to have a powerful mission statement – why do you write, for whom? AND you have to be doing something pretty incredible. That thing has to relate to your writing. For me, even though I’m studying my phd in Taiwan; even though I travel around the world writing books and visiting book fairs; even though I study ancient history, culture and religion – none of that stuff was enough to be really, really interesting.
So I decided to buy a castle to use as a writer’s retreat. That’s part of my story and mission now. That’s my aim, my goal – and even though I haven’t reached it yet it’s impressive enough to make an impact (which will help build my platform until I eventually can buy a castle).
Your hero’s journey
Every great about page or author bio should have elements of the hero’s journey in it, which is basically this:
1. Had a dream
2. Faced a lot of challenges and problems.
3. Overcome adversity, persevered and FINALLY succeeded.
See if you can work that into your story; it helps you become the champion and people will feel closer to you.
You want readers to get to know you and like you
Videos is one way to do that. Video is something I’ve struggled with for a long time, and am just starting to get a handle on – but there are very few authors doing it and doing it well (we tend to be reclusive, and a little camera shy). But it’s a strange thing: if you watch somebody talking about something long enough you start to feel comfortable around them, and feel a connection with them. Not to mention, if you produce a lot of videos (or even a few with some targeted keywords), it’s a great way to reach new readers because those videos will rank will in Google.
By the way, these are some of the reasons why using a pen name can be problematic: you always have to hide yourself behind a fake identity. It’s true that LOTS of authors hide themselves and don’t put themselves out there and don’t make videos or take pictures of themselves – they probably have one professional author shot they use everywhere.
And that’s fine too, if you write a lot of books, especially fiction, it’s possible to become successful without “transparency and authenticity” – but if you’re an indie author, you’re going to need all the support you can get, and it’s much more likely that fans will support you if they feel like they know and like you. So reveal or hide as much as you feel comfortable with (actually… no… you’ll probably need to stretch your comfort levels considerably. Reveal or hide as much as you want depending on how successful you want to be. If you want to be super successful, push harder. Be uncomfortable. Feel the fear and do it anyway).
At the bottom of this page, you should probably ask them to “follow me on Twitter” or “like my Facebook page” for news and updates. You can also ask them to “Sign up for my mailing list” or embed an optin form. (I’ll talk more about setting up optin forms in another post.)
Adding your short bio to the sidebar
Sometimes it’s tricky to add the shortened version of your author bio to your sidebar but there’s a trick for that! Just add it into a post, like below…. then switch to “text” view to see the code, then copy the code into a ‘text’ widget for the sidebar.
Hey there! This is the space where you add a super quick description of your awesome self, the books you’ve written, and maybe a link or two. Remember, you need to choose what you want people to do and make that the easy, obvious option. (Like sign up to your list).
After you use it you can delete your sample post.