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Whether we like it or not, the "About the Author" description is a marketing tool. It contains selective personal and professional information which is deemed to have the potential to create a positive impression about the author on the readers.

I have just written a paragraph about myself in which I mention my academic qualification. I am hoping the readers of my short stories would make a connection between my qualification and writing. e.g. the qualification puts me in a better/stronger position to "know what I am writing" (even if it is a work of fiction). i.e. the qualification has made me a better observer of social processes etc. (The qualification is not in creative writing.)

Is it appropriate/wise to include one's qualification when describing oneself as a writer?

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You might also consider the way you list your qualifications. If you say it in the tone of "I'm qualified, so I know what I'm talking about" you might come of as condescending or that you're simply bragging. If it's more of an "Oh, and by the way, these are my qualifications", the reader will come to the conclusion "oh, so that's why he sounds like he knows what he's talking about" on his own, and like you better because of it. –  Tannalein Jun 27 '13 at 21:27
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3 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Presumably the point here is marketing. So the question really is, Will the mention of this particular credential help to sell this book?

Some credentials would be a pretty obvious plus. If you've written a book about how to design automobiles, mentioning that you've spent 20 years as an automotive engineer for a major car company would surely be a helpful credential.

Mentioning that you have a degree in French poetry would sound pretty irrelevant. If you give a bunch of credentials that are all irrelevant, that would signal to me as a reader that you have no relevant qualifications, or you would have brought them up. In such a case, better to say nothing. Like, okay, this has nothing to do with a book, but I got a campaign flyer from someone running for office once that had a panel with his qualifications, and they all sounded trivial and irrelevant to me. Like -- seriously, this was one of the things he listed -- "Had perfect attendance in high school". Listing such things led me to believe that he probably wasn't qualified for the job.

Credentials mentioned might signal the reader what kind of book this is. Like if you've written a book about automobile design and you list as your primary credential that you've spent 20 years as an environmental activist, I think readers would expect that your book is going to be about the environmental impact of design decisions.

In some cases a credential could be taken by likely readers as a negative. A book on vegetarian cooking that lists as the author's main credential that he is chairman of the National Beef Producers' Association would likely lead vegetarians to question if this is a book they are interested in.

You may be able to tie a seemingly-irrelevant credential to the subject. Like, my first book was about database design, and my second book was about the Bible. So in the about-the-author stuff I wrote that I was a software engineer and that I brought this technical and analytic viewpoint to my Bible commentary. Whether that worked or not I can't really say. I'm sure that the principle works if done well. It can not only let you use the credentials that you've got, but if done right can give the reader the impression that you are bringing a fresh or special perspective to the subject.

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If your qualification is related to your story, then yes. For example, Mercedes Lackey keeps hawks and horses, both of which feature prominently in her stories. So I know that any details about them are reasonably based in fact.

If your degree is in underwater basket-weaving and your story is about WWII England, then not so much.

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+1. short and sweet! –  Shantnu Tiwari Jun 28 '13 at 7:30
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In my opinion, the difference lies on your writing. I would be interested in knowing that Robin Cook is a doctor, since he writes fiction books that heavily relies on medicine. It would be weird if he was a computer technician. On the other hand, I don't care at all about what Margaret Weis studied in college.

If you write fiction, what kind of fiction you write? If it's social based, it makes sense you say that you have academic qualification but it's not mandatory. If you write fantasy books with elves and dwarves, will it make any difference if you haven't graduated at all?

That's to say I wouldn't go for that path expecting to impress readers and make them to buy your work, because I think most of them will care more about the book description than the author qualifications... But I think a good "about the author" might reach the ones who want know more.

So, the answer is yes, it's appropriate to include such information, specially because most of publishers do in their books. I just think it could not be yes if aimed for "making a connection between my qualification and writing for the readers".

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