How writers can best optimize their About Me page

How to craft a compelling biography for your website.
By Hunter Liguore | Published: September 8, 2017


a writer's about me page

 

Writing a successful About Me page for your author website can make or break you, especially when potential agents, editors, and publishers are looking you up. Figuring out how to start an About Me page can often be a daunting process, however. It’s easy to compile a list of publications and other noteworthy achievements, but if you can take the next step and create a story about your writing life – one that reflects your work and unique philosophies – you might be halfway there to creating a presence that is friendly and relatable enough to connect with readers.

 

Creating your story

Creating your story ties together your history and unique philosophies into a narrative, one that is both visual and telling. Your story might include how you got started, including your personal history and important milestones in your writing life. Begin by free-writing a biographical timeline of your writing career.

 

Some places to start include:

  • What inspired you to work in your field/genre (e.g., if you’re a poet, what sealed your desire to become one)?
  • Who or what influenced you to follow your career?
  • What one pivotal moment can you describe that got you where you are today?

 

Next, begin to shape the story to include a visual impression, something that allows the reader to “see” the story unfolding in their mind. For instance, if I wrote, “I got my start with poetry in November 2010, and it’s been an important endeavor to me,” there is nothing to see visually – it’s just comprised of “telling” details. Consider the following example and how a picture forms in your mind, placing you right there with the narrator.

 

Example:

My life changed the day I took my first step onto a layer of red-hot coals; surrounding me were other women, just like me, dressed in colorful shorts and T-shirts – only they’d already crossed, and seemed little deterred to do it again. With the full moon overhead, and a drum beating in the distance, I took my second step…somewhere around the third step, my first poem came to me…

 

The hope is that you can see the narrator about to take a leap of faith. When we can connect a reader visually with our life story, it allows them to participate and experience what we’ve gone through. Furthermore, as potential agents or editors read your page, they might identify more with your story and take a deeper interest.

Take a moment and write a visual scene from your life – a moment that inspired you. When you’re done, move on to the next part.

 

Considering your unique philosophy

Your story not only can include your history or the steps you took toward progressing your writing career, but it can also include your unique philosophies. This is the section you get to talk about how you approach your writing and what makes you special. Even if you are one of 100,000 sci-fi writers or one of 100 local writers, something about you and your style is unique – simply because we each bring something from our core that only we can bring. That’s the part you want to emphasize.

 

Establishing your credentials

List anything you can think of that qualifies you to do the work you’re doing. This is all about brainstorming, so write without censoring; not everything you come up with will be used. Create a bulleted list of all that might apply:

 

  • Degrees and education
  • Certifications
  • Work experience
  • Publications
  • Awards
  • Residencies
  • Volunteer or charitable work
  • Lectures and seminars attended
    or given
  • Experts or teachers you may have worked with or who recommend your work
  • Related work in competing businesses
  • Your expertise – what are your strong points
  • Side-ventures – places you may have traveled to gain experience
  • Skills, talents, abilities
  • Memberships or affiliations
  • Projects you’re working on that are related
  • Anything else you can think of that makes up your writing career

 

Once you’ve brainstormed, begin to organize the list by what is most important and which things you’d like to highlight first, second, and third. Create three short paragraphs (or “chunks”) of text using the information from each group. You might start off with degrees/certifications/workshops in paragraph one, while paragraph two might focus on your expertise, publications, awards, and related skills; the third might be volunteer work, affiliations, and future projects.

Once complete, incorporate it into the rest of your About Me page.

 

Tying it all together

The recipe for a successful About Me page brings together your story and unique philosophy in addition to your publications, if you have them. Consider “chunking” relevant information into short paragraphs of no more than three to five sentences long. According to Natalie Canavor, author of Business Writing in the Digital Age, pages should be “short enough to read with minimal scrolling.”

Remember to also have a clear focus and goal in mind at the start. Considering your audience will allow you to target the most important parts that you want to share about yourself. Canavor also recommends keeping content “positive,” with a light, bright, and upbeat tone.

Lastly, be authentic – your About Me page should reflect the “real you.” Include a professional photo, and be sure to proofread! You never know when a potential editor, publisher, or agent may be checking you out.

 

Hunter Liguore is an Assistant Professor of Writing at Western Connecticut State University, and teaches through the graduate MFA program at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. She offers nature-writing classes and leads peaceful-litter-pickups in New England. Web: hunterliguore.org.

 

 

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