Recently I’ve been having the same discussions and explaining the same things to several different authors at once, which is a good indication I should blog about it.
The issue is this:
I recommend authors put their bio on the back of their book, but they say “I already have it on the INSIDE of the book, so I don’t want it on the outside.
That seems to make sense…
The point of the back cover on a print book is to sell the book.
Even though most of your sales are going to be online and you may not actually put the book in many bookstores, or do many life events, you want your book to look as “normal” and professional as possible.
And that means, having your author photo and bio on the back cover.
But only if that’s all you’ve got.
You always want to fill that space with whatever is going to sell the book the best.
It’s a lot like a job resume – you put on the good stuff, and you leave off anything that’s weak, unnecessarily or irrelevant.
The back cover isn’t the place to go into details, and there’s usually just enough room for a sentence or two about the author – that sentence should include, quickly:
Why the author is experienced enough to write this book. Awards, jobs, publications, etc – why are you an expert on this subject? For fiction, you also need to create your author persona, and you have to make yourself likable and appeal to readers of that genre. It’s not easy to do all this in a couple paragraphs, so keep it simple, but on the other hand, if you do it right it will help readers take action. Push them over the edge.
You already have your captivating sales copy and your brilliant blurbs from famous authors (you have those, right?) The author bio is one last place to connect with the reader, and convince them to buy – or at least to pick it up and flip through.
The author bio in the back of the book is usually only seen by readers who have finished the book. Now you can do a little more, add more detail, thank them for reading, and invite them back to your website for more good stuff.
The author bios isn’t redundant, because they have different purposes.
My back cover copy might say, depending on the book topic and genre:
“Derek Murphy is a self-publishing author, book marketing specialist, cover designer and online business enthusiast who loves hacking bestseller lists with innovative experiments.”
or “Derek Murphy is a graduate student exploring vampire mythology in Romania while castle-shopping and writing paranormal romance novels. He loves eye liner and punk rock music, and has a black cat who sometimes takes over typing when his hands cramp up.”
It’s short, and just enough to catch interest. It’s not easy to pull off so get some help, hire a few editors – it won’t cost hardly anything to get a few sentences edited.
The inside author bio may be a couple pages long, it will talk in more detail about all my websites, my books, where to find me online, my plans and goals.
By the way, these two author bios should also be used on your website:
The short, catchy author bio is probably going to be on your top right sidebar – the longer one on your about page. I just set up a sample author website if you want to check it out
The author bio can also just be a way to fill up some space, so your back cover doesn’t look totally empty (or you try to fill the space with big text or huge line spacing). Those are amateur giveaways that make your book look self-published.
Of course it would be best to use a few reviews, and many traditional publishers sometimes use only reviews – because people trust them more, and you can use the right reviews to say things about your book that you couldn’t say yourself.
You can’t say, “This is an incredibly written, brilliant book” in the book summary because you’re talking about yourself and it looks like bragging. But if a somebody else says it, it’s OK.
You can even cheat, have a friend post an Amazon review, and then quote it as an “Amazon reviewer.” (Such cheats only work short term, and all will be forgiven if it really is an incredibly written, brilliant book – if it isn’t, you’ll attract harshly negative comments that you wouldn’t have attracted if you hadn’t so misled readers, so be careful).