We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What does a Biography Writer do?

By Bethany Keene
Updated Mar 02, 2024
Our promise to you
Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Practical Adult Insights, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A biography writer is an author who writes a non-fiction work about the life of a significant person in history; this person may be a famous entertainer, politician, or scientist, or the person may be part of the writer's family. A biography writer may write about whomever he or she chooses using various methods. Biographies may be broken into two categories: authorized and unauthorized.

In an authorized biography, the biography writer has been given permission to write the biography, either directly by the person who is the focus of the work or by his or her family/estate. Generally, an author writing an authorized biography also has more access to primary sources, such as personal letters, diaries, or interviews with the person's family members. An unauthorized biography writer has not been given permission, but chooses to write the biography anyway based on public records.

When an author decides to write a biography, it is necessary to begin with extensive research. If possible, the writer may want to meet and interview the subject of the biography, as well as some of his or her friends, family members, and colleagues. These types of interviews are invaluable at compiling interesting and informative personal data that goes far beyond a simple listing of accomplishments.

In addition to interviews, a biography writer may need to look at personal documents, such as a family history, journals, photos, letters, or anything else that may be relevant to the writing of the biography. This is why it is ideal to write an authorized biography. In addition to these personal items, the writer will research public records, as well as the subject's career, significant accomplishments, and contributions to his or her field, if applicable. The research that goes into a biography is typically the most time-intensive part of the process.

The next step is to write the biography. A biography writer may focus on the subject's entire life story, significant events throughout the subject's life, or even just a few years in the subject's life, such as the important political years for a politician. The writer needs to do more in the biography than simply transmit facts to the reader; he or she needs to make the subject come alive, and write the work in an entertaining manner.

Publication comes next for a biography writer. He or she may already have a contract with a publisher, or may need to begin querying various publishers or agents. This may mean sending a query letter and some sample chapters, or the entire manuscript. Successful biography writers may write a number of biographies throughout their careers, either on the same person or a sampling of different people.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By browncoat — On May 12, 2014

@bythewell - I guess it depends on how you want to make your money though. I'm sure there are plenty of authors who think it's all right to sell carbon copies of biographies (although they would definitely run into trouble with plagiarism laws if they aren't careful) and just put some kind of shocking revelation in them in order to make sales.

But biographies are an art form. And a truly good biography, one that will be kept on the shelves for more than a few weeks at a time, is going to be one that stands on its own merits.

By bythewell — On May 11, 2014

@Iluviaporos - I think what usually happens is that someone writes an authorized version and then someone else takes that information and adds to it in order to write the true version, without any pandering.

Once you've released information into the public, its not like you can take it back again. An unauthorized biography writer might not be able to see the source material, but they will definitely be able to quote with relative impunity from any other biographies that exist. So, really, half their job is done for them already.

By lluviaporos — On May 10, 2014

Sometimes it's better to read the unauthorized version as well as the authorized version. You might learn about things that the subject would otherwise not reveal in the authorized version, and you might learn about things the subject would never reveal in the unauthorized version. If I was a biography writer, I think I'd rather write the latter, because you'd have the freedom to really portray people as they were, rather than how they'd like you to see them.

Practical Adult Insights, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Practical Adult Insights, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.