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How To Tips: Author Bio

Let's talk author/writer bios.  I've been trying to write a keeper for months.  It's ridiculous, I know.   The problem is, I'd like to have a quirky, interesting bio and I haven't figured out anything good to say that's, well, quirky or interesting (and I call myself a writer?).  Also, seeing as I don't have any publishing credits or impressive MFAs or anything, whatever I come up with just seems empty. 

Here are some tips I've come across:

  • Write in third person.
  • Include pertinent credentials, experience, and/or awards (but be selective if you have a lot).
  • Mention other works you'd like people to find, if applicable.
  • Choose professional titles over personal titles.
  • If you lack credentials, consider mentioning any pertinent organizations you belong to (SCBWI, RWA, etc).
  • If you lack credentials, keep it simple and just say a few lines about yourself.
  • The average length seems to be 150 words, though it varies depending on what it's for.

If you're struggling to write your own bio, and are interested in examples, Book Browse, has a large collection of author bios to check out.

Here's an example of a bio I LOVE (not a children's author, but still, great stuff): 

Lorelei Shannon was born in the Arizona desert and learned to walk holding on to the tail of a coyote. She was a strange, fey child who kept to herself, and could often be found feeding flies to a big praying mantis in her mother's rose garden. Lorelei is now a horror writer, computer game designer, sculptor, and goth grrrl. She lives in the woods outside Seattle with her beloved husband, two beautiful sons, three big, hairy dogs, and an immortal goldfish.

What do you like in a bio?  Have any thoughts or tips you'd like to share?  If you're like me, and don't have anything much to say, what have you included?


Weronika Janczuk said...

I'm so glad you posted this now! I was just thinking--hard--about what I need to do with my short bio to make it accessible, and I fall upon this post. Thanks so much for giving me things to consider!

The following link about bios also came in the most recent "Writer's Digest" e-newsletter: http://writersdigest.com/article/quick-tips-for-building-a-bio/.


storyqueen said...

Casey, I love that one, too! Hmmmm. On my book jackets, the short bio isn't written by me (and they rarely let me see it, so sometimes not everything is true....)

But I love the voice in Lorelie's bio. I need to write one for my webpage-in-progress.

This is a great topic!


Casey Something said...

Thanks for the link, Weronkia. I hope you can come up with a great bio. Oh, and I like your new profile pic!

Isn't the voice great in Lorelie's bio, Shelley? It's the only bio that's ever really stuck with me, which is sayin' something I think.

Good luck with yours!

Corey Schwartz said...

Oh, so glad you posted about this! I just sent one to my agent yesterday and I was so unhappy with it!

Casey Something said...

I think it's something a lot of writers struggle with, Corey. I bet your bio was good!

PJ Hoover said...

This is so hard when there are no publishing credits. To me it seems like the most important thing is establishing that you are serious and professional about your writing.

Casey Something said...

Great advice as always, PJ. Thank you!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

from a marketing perspective - write your bio to fit your audience. It can be in first person and person OR it can be in third person and professional

Dont be afraid to show off your voice in a bio too.