Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Author Bio

An author bio (short for biography) is something every writer will need, regardless of whether he or she has been published or not. I suggest using two types: one used with query letters and another used in public areas, such as what would appear with a published story.

For query letters, your bio, in most cases, should only list your previous publications (if you have any) unless an editor specifically requests more information in their submission details. If you haven’t had any stories accepted for publication yet, I would avoid pointing that out; the editor will assume that, so there’s no reason to throw an enormous flag up to identify yourself as a complete amateur; you still want the query to appear professional. If you actually sold a story, be sure to use that keyword “sold” in your details. I highly doubt that all editors have heard of all paying magazines, so rather than leaving them to guess, note it as a sale. If you’ve attended a credible writers’ workshop, you might mention that as well. Keep this area brief, though, and try to emphasize your biggest accomplishments up front. Here are some examples: “I sold a short story that was published in Matt’s Cool Magazine.” “I sold three short stories that were published in Matt’s Cool Magazine, Matt Weekly and The MW Insider.” “I attended Matt’s Workshop last year. I sold one of the stories I wrote at the workshop to Matt Weekly, and it’s scheduled for publication later this year.”

When you need a bio to accompany a published piece, or if you’re creating a short bio for a website or blog, write about yourself in the third person. Yes, it feels quite strange to do this at first, but keep in mind that it should look like someone else is writing about you. (It’s not a writer’s autobio, after all.) One other note: whereas I think it’s important to emphasize the word “sold” for query letters, it looks pretty tacky as part of the public bio. For the public, mention your publications (or at least the ones you want people to be aware of) along with some personal information. You might include information about where you live, if you’re married, how many children you have, the kinds of pets you own, etc. I always like a bio that is a bit quirky, too, like the author is testing whether or not you’re actually reading it. Here’s an example for an author named Bob Author: “Bob Author lives in Seattle, Washington, driving everything from forklifts to steamships. His stories have appeared in Matt Weekly and The MW Insider. To find out more about Bob, check out his website:”

Do you have a bio yet? If not, what are you waiting for?

No comments: