Today we're going to discuss the bio. That's right, your bio. The one you put in your query letter. The one you might put on your blog or website. The words that tell all about you. I know some of you have the fear of all that's holy in your heart right now. I can practically hear some of you saying, "But, but, there's nothing special about me. What am I supposed to say?"
Believe me, I've felt this terror. It started last year when the five of us got together and started writing on this blog. I had to come up with something to say about myself. It was one of those deer in the headlights moments.
But never fear. You can write an amazing bio by considering these few simple points.
1. Be briefest. If you don't have any publishing credits, don't despair! You can still put a sentence about yourself. Here's what I put in mine: I am an elementary school teacher by day and a contributing author of the QueryTracker blog by night.
Sounds good, right? It's quick and easy. Now, you might be thinking, "Yeah, but you have this wicked QT blog credit."
And that's true. But I didn't always have this. Before I started writing for The Blog, I simply said: I am an elementary school teacher by day and an avid writer by night. Just give them something brief, personal and sincere.
2. If you have publishing credentials, list them! Publisher and date, along with title is all you need.
3. Mention education/experience that qualifies you as the perfect author to write your book. For example, if you've earned an MFA degree in creative writing, write for a newspaper, etc. you can use that in your bio.
1. Be brief. People want to read a little bit about you, but not your life story starting with the third grade. My bio on my website is quite a bit longer than what I put in my query. In fact, it's longer than what's on my blog. Or on Facebook. Or anywhere really. In fact, your website is the best place to put the most comprehensive bio. For everywhere else: Pare it down to the bare essentials so that when someone clicks on your blog or Facebook page, they can see who you are in a few short sentences.
My bio on Facebook: I teach, I parent, I cook, I drive too fast and I watch a lot of reality TV. After that, I write YA novels.
I am represented by Michelle Andelman of Lynn C. Franklin Associates, Ltd.
And yes, I sleep. Sometimes.
And on Twitter: YA author, repped by Michelle Andelman
2. Read other bios. I think the best way to learn about bios is to read them. A lot. Try it. Go to your favorite author's website and read their bio. Open the back covers of your favorite books and read the bios (those are s-h-o-r-t). See what you can apply to your own bio.
1. Lead with your strongest quality. I was recently asked to speak at a conference, and they asked me to submit a bio. I didn't have an agent at the time, and that paralyzing fear I spoke of at the beginning of this post? Yeah, that gripped me. And the conference organizer said, "Just lead with your best stuff," and she helped me put my credits in the proper order.
2. Use your "voice." Your author voice. The one you write your blog posts or Facebook statuses with. Show some personality.
I think the author bio is important. I don't think it's a secret that I frequent a lot of blogs. When I go to a blog I've never read before, the very first thing I look for is a bio box. I want to see who that person is. What they write. I want a quick glimpse at who they are. That can all be accomplished with a well-written bio.
Thoughts? Questions? Throw 'em my way at elanajohnson (at) querytracker.net or leave a comment.
If you're so inclined:
Elana's bio on her website
Elana's bio on her blog
Elana's bio on that conference she was talking about (it scrolls through the speakers. She thinks she's seventh or something like that)
Click here to see the QT bloggers and our brief bios