Bios Made Easy
Writers need bios, for query letters, on websites, for conference brochures. Surely writers can write about ourselves. Yet while coordinating writing conferences, I discovered that even published authors often write poor bios, whether through modesty, carelessness or overwriting. Many bios are entertaining, but don’t do their job.
The job is selling yourself and your books. Keep that focus in mind and the rest will follow.
Content: List your publications. If you have many, mention the number but only go into detail on three or four—perhaps the most recent or popular. Specify the genre, as titles aren’t always clear by themselves. If you don’t have published books, mention your other credentials—“Cub Newshound’s articles appear in Slate,” for example.
Don’t get carried away listing awards. If each book has four or five minor awards, the reader bogs down in dull details. List the most prestigious, or combine them—“Ms. Inkslinger’s books have received 11 Readers’ Choice Awards from various states.”
Relevancy: If someone is considering buying your book or coming to hear you speak, they want to know your success as a writer or speaker, not the names of your pets. Put your professional information first. Don’t start with your hobbies or childhood, unless it directly relates to your book. (For example, you’re a nurse and you wrote a hospital drama.) Don’t thank your family for their support. Save that for your book dedications.
Style: You may need different bios for different uses—playful on a book flap; professional for a newspaper article; focused on teaching experience for a conference catalog; praising your writing success for a booksigning. Regardless, focus on information. Humor and lively writing are fine, but don’t get too wrapped up in sounding “literary.”
In a large conference brochure, the designer probably wants consistent style. A touch of formality may be appropriate—you’re trying to portray yourself as a professional. Pretend you’re someone else writing about you in the third person. “Bard Wordsmith is an award-winning author….” For a query letter, use first person. A website could go either way.
Length: Keep it short and to the point. If your bio will stand alone, on an individual brochure or flyer, try 100-200 words. If your bio will appear along with others, 50-100 words is plenty (or whatever they request). Many people will skim anyway. Include your website for more information. An editor may cut to save space, so put the most important information up front.
I keep several versions and cut and paste as needed. A longer bio may have a sentence about each of my romantic adventure novels. A shorter one may have only a few words on each, or general info on the kind of books I write. If I’m promoting my critiquing/editing business, I would focus on my experience as a teacher and workshop leader, noting that people can get recommendations and rates on my web site. The details depend on what I’m trying to sell.
So what about you? To get started, make a list of the facts that you want to share. Then write a simple, straightforward paragraph that includes them. Next, decide if it’s appropriate to dress it up, but as in all good writing, communication comes first.
ABOUT Kris Bock
Kris Bock writes novels of suspense and romance involving outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. In Counterfeits, stolen Rembrandt paintings bring danger to a small New Mexico town. Whispers in the Dark involves archaeology and intrigue among ancient ruins. What We Found features a young woman who stumbles on a murder victim, and The Mad Monk’s Treasure follows a treasure hunt in the New Mexico desert.
Kris Bock's latest book is The Dead Man's Treasure
BLURB: Rebecca Westin is shocked when the grandfather she never knew leaves her a bona fide buried treasure – but only if she can decipher a complex series of clues leading to it. The hunt would be challenging enough without interference from her half-siblings, who are determined to find the treasure first and keep it for themselves. Good thing Rebecca has recruited some help, in the form of a green-eyed charmer determined to show her that a desert adventure can be sexy and fun. But there’s a treacherous wildcard, a man willing to do anything to get that treasure – and revenge.
Action and romance combine in this lively Southwestern adventure, complete with riddles the reader is invited to solve to identify historical and cultural sites around New Mexico.
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