Writing an author biography (bio)

Ideally if you are working on your book, short story or poem you should also be making preparations for what to do next when your work in progress is completed.

What are biographies needed for?

A bio is a short resume to introduce the author of the book.  As well as a bio being needed for use in a book you may also need a bio to give to a magazine.  That’s if you get an offer from a magazine wanting to place an article for you (i.e. a short story or poem).  Sometimes magazines like an author note/biography that does not detail your qualifications.

So how do you go about creating your very own biography?

Firstly get a blank piece of paper and draw a little stick person (representing you) in the middle of it and write down as many labels as you can think of, describing you and your interests, all the way around your little stick person in a big circle.  Then fill out the interesting details underneath each label.

Try the following labels and add some personal ones of your own to your list:

Family members; details of where you live; age or date of birth; place of birth; your faith; details of groups that you belong to; likes/dislikes (maybe untrue but deliberately entertaining); health details; employment status (including any voluntary work); interests; hobbies; education; where you have travelled and any relevant awards you may have received etc.

How should this information be used?

In order to use this newly gathered information to write up your bio, you will need to gain examples of what a bio should look like.  Any time you are passing a book shop, newsagents or library take a look at some books.  Examine the biographies for ideas on what to write.  Examples of many author biographies can also be found on-line at:

http://contemporarylit.about.com/od/authorprofiles/Authors_Profiles.htm  or

http://www.bookbrowse.com/authors/allauthors/

Analysing others biographies:

You should conduct your own research before writing up your own bio.  When looking at others biographies, it’s good to note three points that you think work well in each one and note one item that doesn’t work well for you (if you can spot it).  Analyse the items that work and the ones that obviously don’t and then summarise your findings.  Bear this information in mind when creating your own biography.

In your bio you should:

Make it short; include your inspirations if relevant (the reason for your writing); make it an entertaining and/or professional account; make sure it is coherent; name drop and or establish your credibility if necessary.

Don’t say:

It’s your first attempt at writing; you have no time to write (e.g. you intend to pursue your writing career when you have completed your studies); your age (if you think it will go against you) and that you’ve had to self-publish (it may give an incorrect impression that you are not good enough to be published).

Other information:

Publishers may possibly have a small publicity department that you can work with to create your biography.  Some may give you word counts (e.g. 100/150 approximately) to follow and guidelines to work towards, but beware they will generally use the bio information that you give them (whether it sounds professional or not).  If an editor is involved then they may find it helpful to know if you are a man or a woman.  If you detail your initials rather than giving your full name they may assume that you are an older person.  Remember short biographies stand out better than long ones and are more likely to be read.  But don’t miss an opportunity to write down an important fact just because short biographies may seem more appealing.

You can read more about biographies here at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biography

I hope that you have found this article useful.  Please feel free to comment below and share the link if you think it will help others.

Lee 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5 thoughts on “Writing an author biography (bio)

  1. Pingback: How to Perfect Your Author Biography « This Craft Called Writing

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