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All Posts in Category: Credentials and Expertise

Showcase Your Professional Bio

If you’re a writer working on a nonfiction book proposal, the about the author section can be the most difficult to write. Not because you don’t have any credentials, but because you don’t know how to write about them.

Remember, this is not the time to be modest! Make your credentials, experience and expert status wow the editor who reads your book proposal. Present your professional bio so that the editor knows you’re an author who commands respect and credibility.

  • Pull out the big guns. All your credentials related to your subject matter should be included. Remember that you’re trying to persuade an agent or editor (or reader, for that matter!) that you’re the right person to write this book.
  • Write a narrative – don’t give a dry recitation of facts or a bullet list of employment titles. Engage your reader by telling a story.
  • Keep the resume to yourself. A professional biography is not an employment resume!
  • Make it reflect you – if you’ve got a fun sense of humor, your bio should reveal that.
  • Use third person to write about yourself – it’s much easier and it doesn’t sound like you’re stuck on yourself.
  • Hobbies add dimension to your bio, but don’t say, “In her spare time, Julie likes to lawn bowl and skeet shoot.” Say, “A sharpshooter on the skeet-shooting range (watch out, clay pigeons!), Julie is also a threat on the lawn as the highest scoring bowler in the Binghamton Ladies’ Lawn Bowling Association.”

You, the Expert

I remember the first time someone called me a “martial arts expert” in print. I hadn’t even realized I was one! But that endorsement made a lot of difference in my career. I wasn’t just someone who had an interesting hobby. I was an expert in a specific subject matter.

For nonfiction writers, your credentials are extremely important. Make an expert name for yourself by claiming what you know and developing your experience.

  • Certify your credentials. If you teach yoga, make sure you’re recognized by a well-known yoga organization. Get a personal trainer certificate if you write about fitness. I earned a black belt before I started writing about martial arts.
  • Start your own certification program — especially if one doesn’t already exist in your subject matter. If you teach the teachers, you definitely have achieved expert status.
  • Claim your credentials. Don’t make the classic amateur mistake of calling yourself a “visionary” or the like (that’s for other people to decide) but do make your credentials clear in your book proposal and in marketing materials about your book.
  • Track your media hits and all the work you do to develop your platform. List seminars and talks you give (even the five minute speech at the local Chamber of Commerce).
  • Slant work and training experience to emphasize its connection to your book.