A clean, concise author biography is your calling card, and can mean the difference between future sales and languishing in the bookstore bargain bin. Creative writing may be your bread and butter, but tooting your own horn can be a difficult task. Here are three categories to consider:
- Short form: Two sentences. In third person. Name, book title, publisher, where they can find you online. Around 25 words.
- Medium form: For speaking engagements, magazine articles, brochures. In third person. Name, book title, publisher, where they can find you, education, and background, if it pertains to your writing. Around 50 words.
- Long form: For query letters. In first person. One quarter (around 50 words) of the page for fiction. A little longer for non-fiction (add your platform and credentials). Push the current project, not your life story.
Make it professional, but with your personality; include memberships in literary associations, degrees in literature or creative writing, book awards and reviews.
Make a list of all possible facts, then start paring it down. Choose three credits to highlight. Keep personal information to a minimum. Readers want to know where to find you on the internet and other books you have written.
Share your newly-crafted bio with your critique group. Members can give you input on what to work on.
Don’t mistake this accomplishment, “Jane recently trained her tom cat, Sir Licksalot, to fetch the evening paper,” with this one, “Jane received second place for her essay titled, ‘Jambalaya,’ in the Deep South Gazette’s annual literary competition.”
Don’t talk about this life experience, “Hortense spent her teen years in and out of Juvenile Hall,” when this one is so much more relevant, “Hortense’s two decades as an EMT give her unique qualifications to write medical drama.”
Compose a biography like you’re writing a novel. Write and revise. Whittle it down until there is no visible fat. Your bio must be lean and mean! Below are two of mine, which I am currently crafting.
“Carol J. Martin is a veteran blogger, inspirational writer/speaker and Kansas Writers Association member. Female in Motion Devotions, her first book, received semi-finalist status in the Munce Group’s 2012 Writing Contest. Female in Motion can be found at www.fim-carol.blogspot.com.”
“While it began in 2007 as an exercise blog, Female in Motion (www.fim-carol.blogspot.com) quickly became more of a personal journal: Life as a Midwestern wife, empty-nester, inspirational writer/speaker, cancer survivor and most notably, Christian. Female in Motion Devotions, my first book, was a semi-finalist in the Munce Group’s 2012 Writing Contest. My faith simply wraps itself around everything I write and I consider it my mission to encourage women to seek God’s will for their lives.”
“Biography lends to death a new terror.”—Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)