A snippet biography is one of the hardest pieces of writing that most authors will tackle. You know, the little blurb on the back of your book or at the bottom of an article? Not only do you have to face the challenge of describing yourself to strangers, usually you’ll have to do it in about 50 words or less. This week, we wanted to provide some insights that might help you next time you’re asked to craft a biography, whether it’s for your Twitter account, a guest appearance on a blog, a public speaking engagement, or your immortal back cover copy.

Before you start, choose a perspective to write from. If you are guest posting on a blog or being interviewed or making a public appearance, we recommend a third-person approach. Some publications will request first-person for their own reasons (Forbes does this, for example), but we feel that third-person promotes a stronger feeling of credibility with the audience, and sometimes it makes it easier for authors, who are largely a very humble group of people, to be honest about their accomplishments.

One you’ve decided on perspective, the real fun begins. Below are the four most important things to do when drafting your short biography:

Tone Matters

Before you even write the first word (and after you’ve decided on perspective), take a moment to consider tone. If you’ve written an academic appraisal of a current issue, you’ll want your bio to reflect that. If you’ve written a humorous short story collection, let that shine through. This is especially true for fiction authors, whose books may not have a specific “message” per say. Find a small tidbit that speaks to your personality or hobbies, but don’t run wild. A quick phrase is enough, often mixed together with professional accomplishments, as we see in this biography by Kevan Lee.

4 Tips for Writing an Author Bio

It’s Not Actually “About You”

Oddly enough, your “about you” blurb is not about “you” at all. It is entirely about your reader. What is important to your target audience? What might they connect with? This is your chance to tell them about your qualifications, why they should trust you, or pick up your work. Establish your credibility. If you’ve written a book about children, don’t hide the fact that you’re a child psychologist. If you’ve written a fiction novel about a character going through rough circumstances, mention what first-hand experience you bring.

Accentuate the Positive

Yes, we know that writers are a humble bunch. But your own bio is no time to be demure! If you published before, include the titles. If you received a pertinent award or recognized by a group that would appeal to your readers, let the world know. Obviously, don’t go over overboard. People probably don’t care that you got first place in a clarinet competition in college (unless, of course, your book concerns clarinets), but they probably would care if the Wounded Warrior Project endorsed your book concerning veterans issues.

Call to Action!

The last sentence in your biography, especially for social media platforms, should include a “call to action” or “CTA.” Try  something like “Follow me on Twitter @yourhandle.” Or relate your CTA to your view of life like “spread God’s love.” This is a wonderful moment to connect with you reader on a “mission” level, or to get them engaged with you. Depending on the venue, this may be a good time to mention that your book is on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, especially if whatever article you’ve written doesn’t directly mention that you are an author beforehand.

Keep these guidelines in mind, and you’ll soon have an engaging biography that isn’t just wasted space. For a more in-depth list of tips, check out Neil Patel’s article on writing author bios.