Build a Better Author Bio for Twitter

Jane's Twitter bio

Before you decide to follow someone on Twitter, what’s the first thing you look at?

Probably the bio.

Let’s assume you’re on Twitter because it’s part of your author platform—whether you’re in relaxed mode or professional mode. Have you written a bio that’s likely to attract followers or turn them away? Let’s look at four basic components:

  1. Photo
  2. Name and handle
  3. 160-character bio
  4. Link


Your photo will be showing up in a tiny, tiny square. For that reason, I recommend a clear and closely cropped image of your face, with good contrast. Here are a few examples.

Head shots for Twitter
L to R: Joanna Penn (@thecreativepenn), Kevin Smokler (@weegee), Dan Blank (@danblank), and Liz Castro (@lizcastro)

I’ve also seen successful use of illustrations, cartoons, and logos for Twitter avatars—and of course some kind of recognizable logo is usually the default for companies and organizations.

Illustration Twitter avatars
L to R: Maria Popova (@brainpicker), MediaBistro (@mediabistro), and April Hamilton (@indieauthor)

Name and Handle

Choose a handle as similar as possible to your actual name, or to your other social network account names. You may need to be somewhat creative (add underscores, initials, numbers, etc).

Even if your handle becomes alpha-numeric soup, you can and should add your actual name. Again, we’re discussing the Twitter account as a component of author platform.

I do not recommend adding “Author” to your actual name. I don’t recommend it for the handle, either. Save “author” exclamations for the bio.


Here we get to the real meat of the issue. What do you say in so few characters? Sometimes it’s easier to show you what to avoid rather than what to do. See below—name and handles removed to protect the innocent.

Bad Bio #1
The Inspirational (or Witty) Quote or Aphorism





Bad Bio #2
I Get the Feeling You’re on Twitter Only to Market Your Book
Bad Bio #3
The Bio That Tells Me Nothing

A strong bio will give people:

  • information about your industry or work, if that’s why you’re on Twitter
  • a good indication of what you’ll be tweeting about (explicitly or implicitly)
  • a little personality and/or where you might find common ground
As far as that third item, it’s popular for people to mention their hometowns or states, the universities they graduated from, or other things we share in meet-and-greet environments. That little bit of personality is more often than not what starts a conversation on Twitter. For me, it’s bourbon and usually my city of residence. (I do highly advocate listing your location—again, it’s likely to spark more connections.)

Notice what I did NOT say was part of a strong bio:

  • a list of every book you’ve ever published
  • exhortations to go to Amazon to buy your book
  • a laundry list of all your hobbies and interests

There’s nothing wrong with putting your most recent book title in your bio. Just don’t make your bio sound like your book release is the only reason you’re on Twitter.


Twitter gives you the opportunity to list one link in connection with your bio (though you can stuff your bio with more—not recommended, since you may come off as a promotional whore).

The best place to link is almost ALWAYS to your own website. If you don’t have a website, and you’re a serious author, then what are you waiting for? Your efforts on social media will go much further if you have some place for people to visit and uncover more about you and your work.

For unpublished writers

People often ask if their bio should say something like “Aspiring writer looking for agent.” That’s not a horrible thing to state, but if it were me, I’d say, “Working on [X book/genre] about [Y topic].” Few people clamor to meet more aspiring writers. Interesting people working on interesting projects: Yes!

What kind of Twitter bios do you like or dislike? Share your tips in the comments.

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