We’ve been talking about what you need to write, after you finish writing. The third thing you need to pen is your autobiography.
No one can tell your story as well as you. But, I have discovered that the one thing a writer is least able to write is their own story. I have actually taught autobiography writing workshops devoted solely to helping writers craft their own writer’s page.
You will need an author’s page, when you upload your books to any distributor. And, yes, I meant to use the plural because I do expect you to write more books.
Authors depend on a revenue stream. You want to write more books and you want people to buy them. It helps if people remember your name. A customer who likes one book you wrote will likely like another book you write. And, they should.
Study some author’s pages. Now, think about what you remembered about the authors. Your goal is not to write what they wrote. Your goal is to write your author’s page in a similar manner.
I want you to get comfortable finding and reading author’s pages, so I am going to give you an assignment. I want you to go to Amazon and find some authors I suggest. These are random, but very good examples. Let’s take a look at Nancy Tillman.
If you don’t have a good photo of yourself, have one taken. Think about your writing when you select what to wear, the setting, and so on. Nancy Tillman’s fun photos reflect her children’s book writing.
Nancy’s photo is great. But, more importantly, she explains that her goal “has always been to give parents words to say what they feel about their children.” Readers want to know things like that.
Holly Lisle is a writer and a writing instructor. She uses her author’s page to demonstrate her storytelling abilities. I especially love to see writers show off their writing skills as part of their author’s page. But, from a marketing point of view, it is clever to include a quotation.
When I worked in newsrooms, I saw editors rifle through press releases and literally toss those that did not contain quotable material. There were two reasons for that. The first was, a quote gives the story life. The second reason was that, when my editor handed me a press release, I had a conversation starter. I would call the person who was quoted, or their spokesperson, and repeat the quote. Then I would ask them to discuss that with me. It was my icebreaker. It was more of a challenge to write news coverage when there was no quote. A quote hones in on the message and a quote, complete with quotation marks, energizes a story.
A good quote is a great quote for a lead. I used to cover a city government beat that brought me into contact with a woman who was my favorite person for any news story. She always had a quote ready for me. To this day, I have visions of her sitting in her office memorizing her quote before every city council meeting. And, that was fine with me.
She always had a quote that looked good on paper and sounded good when she said it aloud. Whether she rehearsed or not, I never discovered and soon no longer cared. She always got print and we always had a talking point.
Her quotes were not just words. They were keenly focused. They were on point. She was adept at identifying what I was likely to ask and she was at the ready. The questions were simple: who, what, when, where, how and why. It’s not that my questions were all that predictable. She understood media. She was always on point about any issue. She knew the heart of the issue. She never floundered for something to say. She anticipated what the public wanted and needed to know. She didn’t control me. She was at the ready with the key information that people needed to know about and she phrased it in quoteworthy ways.
You can learn to do the same thing. Anticipate what a reporter might ask, and have an answer ready. Use the answers as a quote on your author’s page and in press releases (which we will discuss later). Come up with a few quotes and swap them out on your author’s page, from time to time, to keep it fresh or to test what quotes motivate customers to buy.
Changing the content on your author’s page is important. The way to move up toward the top of search engine lists is to offer new content. If nothing changes on a page, it moves down until it is quickly lost among the vast number of pages with new content that are perpetually moving up. For more info, read 5 Reasons Why Fresh Content is Critical for Your Website and SEO.
I’m not especially fond of quirky author’s pages. But, if they work for you, go for it. You know your audience. It is your job to know your audience. That is who you are writing for.
It works well for Suzan Tisdale. I would not normally advise calling yourself a cheeky wench. Cheeky is not a term one easily applies to one’s self. That’s a term that needs to be earned. But, if that’s the name of your blog, you can certainly get away with it.
Susan does a couple of other things any author can do. She makes herself available to her readers.
She posts her website address, her blog address, her Twitter handle, her Facebook address and how to get text messages from her. Yet, she keeps it short.
Most of like to see a few paragraphs. A few paragraphs fit nicely on an Amazon author’s page.
Of course, we all like to break the rules. Some people can afford to. Dean Koontz keeps his author’s bio super short.
“Dean Koontz, the author of many #1 New York Times bestsellers, lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, their golden retriever Anna, and the enduring spirit of their golden, Trixie.”
It is a mere 31 words long. On the other hand, he is so well-known he perhaps doesn’t need to set himself apart. Plus, he is so prolific that his page is littered with work that stands for itself. Not interested in one of Dean’s books? That’s okay. There are dozens more.
Stephen King follows suit, with a single paragraph. David Gerrold wasted no words on his nine-word bio. (Yes, my sentence is intentionally only nine words, as well.)
Make sure that you have author’s pages. Lulu calls them Author Spotlights. Amazon calls them Author Pages, created via Author Central. Create an About.me page.
As a new author, you need to introduce yourself to the public. Open up. Share a little about what makes you unique and perhaps explains why you see the world differently enough that readers should be interested in you. Be sincere. Don’t try to invent a persona for yourself. Be your genuine self and share what you genuinely want readers to know about your writing.
Find what works. Write content for your author’s page. Add a good photo of yourself.
Ready for help? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.