If you’re a writer, one thing you should keep handy in your writing tool-chest is a personal biography.
It’s one of those things that while difficult to write, you should keep close by for a quick send off when requested. And believe me, if you’re writing and submitting work anywhere, someone will eventually want a bio.
There are a few things you want to keep in mind when you put your bio together and that is:
1. Don’t try and get fancy. Just keep it simple.
2. The reason you want a bio is for readers to identify with who you are and what you write.
Who Wants Your Bio?
- Contest organizers could request it for their site if you win or place.
- An Editor of any magazine/ezine/site where you’ve submitted articles
- Are you going to speak at any event?
- Present a workshop at any time?
- Perhaps the local newspaper is doing a story on your latest book.
- Or even better, you suggested the local paper do a story on your book.
- Anyone you come in contact with in the writing world.
- Anywhere you’re represented as a writer. Your kids school? Writing Group? Online?
Suffice it to say, you need a bio–well, actually you need a few, but we’ll get to that.
What is a Bio?
Like any biography, it is centered around one person. This will be all about you. Think of it as your own brag sheet.
Writing about yourself is difficult to do, but a bio follows a basic formulaic approach that you can tweak to keep it personal.
A bio may be a couple of lines, 100 words (short bio), and then some longer–maybe up to 300 words depending on what the publication requires.
If someone requests your bio, ask them how long it should be (this is important to know PRIOR to sending).
Always keep it relevant.
Keep it professional.
Keep it up to date.
- Use your full name in the beginning.
- After which you’ll refer to yourself in third person using your surname.
- It should be friendly, to the point, and professional.
- You need a statement of fact.
- Pertinent qualifications.
- Add your genre if it’s important.
- Prior knowledge/career/position if important to know.*
- Some personal–though non identifying–information.**
- Links and Picture***
Read a few different bio’s of authors or writers you admire. See what information they’ve shared or how they started out their bio.
*When I think of pertinent prior knowledge, I think of things like an author who was a cop and now writes crime stories. His prior job adds to his current credibility. Ask yourself whether or not the information is warranted.
**Personal information is a nice way to close your bio. Be general. ie: Smith lives in Alaska with his family and six dogs. Followed by links.
***Get a jpeg in high resolution pic.
- don’t write first person.
- no fancy fonts.
- no family or pet pix (remember professional)*
- get too braggy.**
- embellish–go back to the last point and read it again.
- be too long winded.
- add personal info like a phone number, personal email etc. Your web and social sites are enough.
- no swearing, slurs, or other inappropriate things.
- have any grammar or spelling mistakes.
- try and be funny…not the time or place (again…think professional).
- not have a bio ready to go at all times. (a wee double negative…so go read it again.
*the exception would be if that is pertinent to the publication
**while your bio is like your cv or resume and it’s okay to brag, don’t get too too… If you’re name-dropping or spouting accolades that have no relevance then it can have a negative impact on the reader.
In my world, I wear several hats so I have many different bios that are ready to go at a moment’s notice. I update them regularly and try to get a photograph done every year though I’m a few years behind on that.
Here’s my long bio:
Faye Arcand, raised on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada, the seventh of eight children, has been blessed with, and appreciates, an abundance of family and friends.It was her eldest sister who taught her how to read and write at a young age. Lessons took place in the attic with a chalk board and pointer stick. That was the beginning of something special.
Living and experiencing life has never disappointed Arcand’s imagination or stores of inspiration. After all, every person she met, every adventure she had, became fodder for her future writing.Arcand likes to write about real life, real people, and real situations. Her popular blogs, Auntie Says… and My Twisted Writer Brain… are a reflection of her reality. Every post, every story, every article, and every novel contains a piece of her.
She is an agented novelist under contract to The Rights Factory Literary Agency and currently working on her second novel.Though Arcand says she can be shy (some may scoff at that), she loves teaching workshops and interacting with members of the writing and reading community.
Arcand loves participating in writing conferences, festivals, and literary events. She’s currently organizing the Wine Country Writers’ Festival for September 2022. (195 words)
Another Bio of mine… This is a Short Bio
Faye Arcand is an award winning short story writer, a columnist/blogger, freelance writer/speaker, and the author of a contemporary young adult novel under contract to The Rights Factory. She’s currently editing her next two novels. She has two blogs: My Twisted Writer Brain which is all about writing and Auntie Says which is an ongoing discussion with young people. Arcand has a BA in Criminology and worked in “the system” for many years. She loves to travel the world to study people, cultures, and places. Arcand lives in the south Okanagan with her family and ever faithful golden retriever. (99 words)
Another Bio of mine…
Faye Arcand is a creative who writes reality-based contemporary fiction. She lives in British Columbia, Canada with her family. (20 words)
In this last bio, I’ve not listed any specifics and that’s okay. If you feel you don’t have enough to say to have your own bio, think again. Keep it simple, relatable, and readable.
As you can see, there are different lengths and information included in each. These are just a sample of my Bio file. Feel free to follow my style or find one that you like and put your spin on it.
[Statement of Fact]: John Smith is the bestselling author of three creative nonfiction books.
[Qualifications]: A graduate from Blank University’s Fine Arts program, Smith has been recognized for his literary style and prose.
[Prior Life if Applicable]: Growing up in Any City, Smith honed his people watching skills and turned them into short stories. He wrote his first novel THE NAME OF NOVEL and followed it up with two sequels.
[Personal Info]: Smith now resides atop a mountain peak in SomePlace with his partner of thirty years and twelve cats. His next book will be released in 2099.
Boom….the bio is done and ready to go. What are you waiting for?
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