A few weeks ago, I was the featured author at a meet-and-greet book event. As is my custom, I made a point of making the rounds to greet the other authors, ask about their books, and collect book markers, post cards, and other souvenirs to check out their websites and purchase books later after I got home, since I didn’t have enough money to buy all of the books, even though I wanted to.
As luck would have it, one of the authors had written a non-fiction book that was on a topic that my husband, who was not at the event, is very interested in. My husband was more than interested in this topic. He has studied and taught courses in it. This author was quite excited when I showed interest in his book, and I could see that he was quite passionate about it. When he told me that he lived in the next town from where we lived, I thought that not only could we possibly buy his book, but that he could even come to speak at one of my husband’s classes and sell more copies there.
So, I grabbed his bookmark, which had the cover of his book on it and the website for his publisher, and rushed home to give it to my husband.
This was where the author lost his sale.
“What are his credentials?” my husband wanted to know. That’s a legitimate question. He couldn’t invite a speaker to his class who just woke up one day and decided he wanted to write a book without any experience, study, or whatever in the subject.
The author had no bio listed on his publisher’s website. All that was listed was his name. Nothing else.
He had no website. No email address to contact him to ask for information about him. We tried so hard to locate him or learn something about this author that I even tried googling for his phone number, but nothing came up. He had no online presence whatsoever.
Writing your bio is as important as writing your book. Readers want to know who you are.
Before I became an independent author, I cringed when literary agents and publishers would ask for a bio. They would flat out demand, “What are you credentials for writing this book?”
The hunt for this unfortunate author has brought home the fact that not only do potential publishers and literary agents want to know who you are, so do readers. I find that at book events I talk as much about myself as I do my books. Not because I’m self-centered, but because they ask.
At every event I have to tell about how my mother read Perry Mason to me at bed time and how I cut my teeth on Agatha Christie. I learned to read with the Bobbsey Twins and went through puberty with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys.
Readers want to know who you are. Are you qualified to write this book? Are you worth my taking a chance on you to buy your book?
Maybe you don’t feel that you are worthy of having written your book. I didn’t after I had written my first mystery. Sure, I had been a writer all my life, but all that I ever had published were articles and humor columns. I had a bachelors in English and literature and journalism, but somehow none of that was impressive as “those other authors” who had oodles of books under their belts.
What credentials did I have for writing a murder mystery? Well, I worked as a detective, but I watched lots of them on TV. I never solved a murder mystery. Nor did I ever kill anyone. I just read a lot of murder mysteries and was passionate about them.
It’s okay to write a book because you are passionate about the subject. If that’s your credentials, then that’s okay. Say so. When I started out, my bio started out with:
“Lauren Carr fell in love with mysteries when her mother read Perry Mason to her at bedtime…”
It ended with,
“…Lauren lives with her husband and son on a mountaintop in West Virginia.”
With each book my bio gets longer. So will yours.
Maybe you don’t feel savvy enough to maintain a website. Then use Amazon.com Author Central. It’s free and will be linked to your book(s). You upload your bio and even a picture of yourself. Plus, there are a lot of other features, liking tracking your sales and listing your events so potential readers can come to your events.
But then, I’m getting ahead of myself here.
First, and foremost, write your bio. There’s no telling who out there wants to know who you are…and wants to buy your book.