Author Bios

I have some trouble with these. They are usually in the third person, yet we know they have been written by the author. It feels a bit false to me, writing about yourself as if a third party is doing it,

Why is this a concern?  I’m putting the finishing touches to a crime novel and realized my previous bio wouldn’t do. I have drafted a new one in the first person. Can I get away with this, or is the word on the literary street that I should  convert to the third?

Just wondering.


I have traveled through Afghanistan, made bubble gum in Philadelphia and published poetry, some of it anthologized. Several years ago I turned to fiction, finding it a natural fit for a comic sense of life. I live with my wife in a old farmhouse gradually being surrounded by developers who take no account of the needs of wildlife. Since that includes me, I’ve turned to crime.

14 thoughts on “Author Bios

  1. Rod, I know what you mean about third person feeling false and I would personally go for first person. Some blog about pages are written in third person and this really jars with me. Great bio, tells us a bit about yourself and has humour!

  2. Hmmm. The word on the lit street is that you break rules when you are famous, not before. I agree that third person bios sound contrived (and like Annika, think they sound awful on blogs, soooooo pretentious) yet, I think they work on book covers. I suspect the average reader doesn’t think about who has written it, if they do, maybe they think an agent, a PR person, editor at publishing house etc wrote it.

    If you want to do something more personal like the one above, maybe write an author’s note? Plus, if it is below the story synopsis on the back cover, don’t you think it is slightly jarring to move from writing about the story in third person to suddenly writing about ME?

    • I just finished a book this morning (on Kindle) and as usual read the author bio as this is always of interest to me. I was certain it was first person, but no, you’re right – it was a very personable third person bio. The long author’s note before was first person, as was the acknowledgments. Having looked at a few other books, third person bio does seem to be the rule then! I think the trick is to make them interesting, with humour and above all with a personal angle and having reread the above bio it loses nothing at all by changing to ‘Rod has travelled…’ I wasn’t certain which way to go on my book, so thank you to you both, this discussion has certainly clarified matters in my mind.

      • Hi Annika
        From memory, all the books I’ve worked on, ie reviewed, edited, beta read, have bios in third person.
        With regard to front matter, dedications aren’t always obviously written in first or third. Interestingly, they are the one part of the book the author has control over in trad publishing. Likewise, acknowledgements can be short and formal, or long, (boring), and personal.
        Forewords and prefaces are easily confused too. While an author writes a preface, someone else writes the foreword. An ‘author’s notes’ is a neat way for the author to exercise a little latitude and write whatever they want at the front of the book that is more than an acknowledgement or a preface.
        Anyway, glad to have helped you in your decisions. Whether we’ve helped Rod is another matter …

      • Thanks for this, Annika. I had not considered the inclusion of author’s notes. I shall read a few to see if I get the idea, but I am not strong writing about myself.

    • Your arguments are persuasive. I shall opt for the third, keeping it reasonably informal. Thanks for your advice, it is appreciated.

  3. I think first person works fine for many things, particularly blogs and other social media sites. Third person seems awkward there. On the other hand, if a site other than our own is hosting one of our articles, than a third-person bio might make more sense. As for the back of a book cover, though third person seems to be the norm, I think either could work. I love your bio, by the way!

  4. Your bio sounds fascinating, like someone I’d like to spend time with. The only bit I’d add is ‘why you’re qualified to write this fiction book’. It doesn’t have to be PhDs and published other books, just a reason.

    Not to say I have that figured out for my own book!

    • You have me stumped with this one, Jacqui. I have an MA in English Language and Literature but wouldn’t mention that for fear of putting people off, and it doesn’t seem so relevant anyway. I suppose what qualifies me is that I’m able to do it. I would really like to know how you deal with this one yourself when you’ve figured it out. Another thing I can do is check out more author bios.

  5. Perhaps a combination of both might be possible? I think humour is the key. I mean, is it so necessary to have a bio or description? It seems to be the case when trying to self publish the book on the Amazon kindle version. Just having gone through this ordeal, I am not as yet an expert on this subject. I nearly lost the will to live with all the complexities.

  6. I think it is necessary to have an author bio. Readers like to know a bit about authors, though clearly in your case they will learn a lot just by reading your book. On which subject, I now have a copy! I know what you mean about losing the will to live, though.

  7. As a bio I like it very much and finished with a smile on my face. I feel unable to judge about the third person problem… except that, unless all your readers know you, the assumption by any strangers is that publication was by another party. By using the first person you definitely herald the fact that you published the book.

    Just read the other comments and agree, third person is the norm. You could add in after ‘turned to fiction’ the titles of your two previous books… thus demonstrating your qualifications to write. Incidentally, I found that the publication of my third novel suddenly made me a ‘real’ writer in other people’s eyes! Good luck!

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