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Do you read the Author Bio?
Posted: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 3:22 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 103

I'm having trouble understanding the obsession with the author bio. To be honest, I don't even read them unless I have to to get to the story. Are these blurbs industry filter mechanisms, author ego trips, or truly valuable marketing tools? If they are valuable, how? And how can we maximize the potential of our own?

Colleen Lindsay
Posted: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 4:35 PM
Joined: 2/27/2011
Posts: 356

Yeah, I do read the author bio. I come from a background of book marketing & publicity, and I am used to wanting to glean as much information about the author as possible for when I set up tours, interviews, etc.

I think that the author bio helps the casual book buyer as well. I know that I've purchased books when I see in the author bio that the writer comes from my hometown or that the writer has had an interesting personal life.
Robert C Roman
Posted: Saturday, March 19, 2011 3:20 AM
Joined: 3/12/2011
Posts: 383

I don't read the author bio until after I've read the book. I don't think I've ever bought a book because of an author bio.
Mahesh Raj Mohan
Posted: Thursday, March 31, 2011 1:11 AM
Joined: 2/28/2011
Posts: 60

Oh yeah, I always read the bio. For me, it's nice to know the author's background, where s/he hails from, awards won, and any clever comments. I don't think it's influenced my decision to buy a book, but it influences how I think of the author, especially if I like her/him.
Posted: Thursday, March 31, 2011 3:03 AM
Joined: 3/16/2011
Posts: 216

I'm like Marilyn. I read the author bio on self-published/indie books. I want to make sure that the writer at least has a four-year college degree or has won awards. Color me a little snobby, but it's the one way to be sure that said author may have the skills to write. Published books? Depends on the genre.
CY Reid
Posted: Friday, May 6, 2011 3:10 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 52

I always read the author bio, but usually after I've finished the book. That the author lives in Devon is of no relevance to whether or not I'll invest in their literature, but it's nice to know a little bit about the person that's just entertained you for a day, week, or month - no different to reading about screen actors or musicians, really.
Dan Blank
Posted: Sunday, June 12, 2011 4:05 PM
Joined: 3/25/2011
Posts: 4

Author bios can be an important way to establish a deeper connection with readers AFTER they have read the book too. It's interesting to consider the process of becoming a fan, instead of the process of buying a book. So the bio could be a way of extending an existing relationship. I think people create strong connections to others, even in their minds. So if the author bio reflects a person similar to the reader - or someone who is inspiring to the reader. It could just be the small difference that gets them to pick up ANOTHER book by that author.

Posted: Wednesday, December 28, 2011 3:11 AM
Joined: 3/14/2011
Posts: 46

I read the author bio, but only look at it before reading if I'm unfamiliar with the author or subject matter, or if I'm on the fence about the purchase. I will admit to having not purchased books - usually automated recommendations online - after having read bios that contained typos or flaws or were otherwise off-putting. 

Posted: Wednesday, December 28, 2011 11:51 AM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 224

Absolutely not for me. The less I know about the writer for the first time I read the book, the better. I want the book to stand on its own two feet and not be judged by whether or not the author is a female or a male, if s/he came from the US, Ireland, or France, and whether or not s/he is a dog or cat lover.

All I care about when I buy a book is the book. If I start judging a book by who wrote the book on an author I've never read before, I'm not doing the book justice.

Perhaps this makes me a bit strange, because everyone else seems to care about the author prior to reading, but I want to let the book fly on its own terms, not on first impressions of a person I don't know.

If I like the book, that is when I take a look at the author bio and decide to get to learn more about that person. But, at the end of the day, I don't go into McDonalds to buy a burger and ask the cooks for their life story. I don't look up the qualifications of the label of clothes I wear. I find new teas by buying a sample and drinking them.

I don't care if a writer has a degree or not. If I did, I certainly wouldn't be qualified to write. I don't have a degree. I didn't even finish a semester of college. If I judged another author by their professed skill sets, then I'm pretty much stating I don't have the right to even try to write.

When I buy a book, regardless of whether or not it is self-published/indie published, I judge the writing by opening the book and reading a sample. No sample? No purchase.

A bad writer can hire a marketer to write their bio. A bad writer is shown through the words between the covers. In the grand scheme of things, the bio is just a waste of my time when I could have spent those few minutes reading a sample of the book to see if the writing actually interested me.

Opinionated? Oh yea, just a bit.
Posted: Wednesday, December 28, 2011 11:57 AM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 103

@RJBlain I was starting to feel like I was the only one who didn't care about the flipping things. Glad I'm not alone here.

Either the story appeals or it doesn't. It really doesn't matter to me who wrote it or what their dog's cousin's best friend's name is.

GD Deckard
Posted: Wednesday, December 28, 2011 1:08 PM
Never at first. But I will read the author's bio if I like their book, or review, or post. It's like when I see a car that just ran off the road I want to know how that happened.

Knowing who wrote something I like adds to my understanding of what I have read. Christ In Concrete was written by a bricklayer. That shows great truths can be expressed without an education. I was delighted to learn that The True Believer was written by a longshoreman. Ha! So, who needs a PhD to understand human society?

What most bios teach us is that ordinary men & women can be surprisingly extrordinary.
Posted: Thursday, January 19, 2012 4:18 PM
Joined: 5/12/2011
Posts: 241

When it comes to fiction, I almost never read anything that hasn't already been recommended to me by someone I trust, or is written by a writer whose work I already know, so the bio is not all that relevant.

Coming from an academic perspective, the very first thing I read of any new nonfiction book is the author bio--is it someone I know (or someone I know might know)? where is she teaching? what's her official expertise? etc.

When I do encounter new fiction, this habit remains to a certain extent, but I don't make a decision to buy a book or not on the basis of the bio.

Carl E Reed
Posted: Thursday, January 19, 2012 5:30 PM
Joined: 4/27/2011
Posts: 608

I always read the author bio of any writer whose work I’m unfamiliar with. But never to make a “buy” or “not buy” decision; I’ve already decided that in the bookstore after perusing the jacket copy and speed-reading a couple of random pages to get a sense of the author’s command of craft. (Side note: Are you one of those authors who don’t believe in using quote marks to enclose dialogue? Sorry, you just suffered a -50% chance I’ll purchase your book.)

Why do I read the author bio? Frankly, to feel closer to the writer. I’m not reading that bio out of any sense of snobbish judgment, i.e.; looking to exclude writers because they don’t have certain pedigrees or imprimaturs from hallowed institutions and “Big Important People” in this industry or the other; I’m reading the bio hoping that something in the author’s life history will pique my curiosity and give me insight into why they felt compelled to expend their time and energy—and ask for the expenditure of my time and energy—on their book.

The author bio is also an exercise in micro-style: the art of saying, in a strictly constrained and tightly delimited space, something of import and substantive value to the would-be reader—usually as regards the author’s life experiences, religio-philosophical outlook and/or personal style.

And if I’ve enjoyed the writer’s book, the first thing I do after finishing it is immediately re-read the author bio. If the book has been an exceptionally moving, well-executed or otherwise memorable or riveting read, I smile and nod at the author’s picture—occasionally tossing them a jaunty salute—and say things like “Damn fine work, Ray,” or “Well done, Stephen,” or “That should piss ’em off, Ursula,” to the author’s picture.

But then I might be a bit mad, eh?


Anyway—that's my two cents on the topic, for what it's worth.

Posted: Thursday, January 19, 2012 9:10 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 103

This is such a fascinating topic. Thanks for adding your thoughts. I love reading everyone's opinion on the subject.

Posted: Monday, August 6, 2012 9:50 PM
LisaMarie, you said, "I want to make sure that the writer at least has a four-year college degree." Could you expand upon that a bit? Please.

Lucy Silag
Posted: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 3:03 PM
Joined: 6/7/2013
Posts: 1359

I read author bios, but not because I want to check their credentials--more because I'm nosy and want more info.


I LOVE it when an author mentions their dog(s) in their bio, too.

Aira Philipps
Posted: Thursday, October 31, 2013 4:35 PM
Joined: 8/18/2013
Posts: 31

I always read them, (sorry no offense)  if it looks like a resume and not a real bio, it's a real turn off unless it's non-fiction. I pick who I follow on twitter the same way  I pick a book, humor and warmth. Of course if I hear good things about the book I'll read it no matter what, but I enjoy getting an inside look at their life, not so much their bragging rights.

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