Writing the Author Bio

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by Laurie Alice Eakes

One thing authors are often asked to create is an author bio anywhere from 50 words, to 150 words. We need to introduce ourselves to a new listserve. We need to place one in proposals to editors and agents, we need one for the copy in our books, we need one on our web sites… In short, we need bios to fit every need.

Authors, however, have a difficult time writing biographies. After several attempts for myself, as well as reading dozens, perhaps scores of them, I figured out what works and what does not.

First of all, be prepared to have several ready-the short one for guest blog posts such as this, the long one for proposals and book jacket information, and a first person one for making introductions.

Let’s start with the first person one for introducing oneself on a listserve (AKA a loop). This Is usually easy. We think up the questions we get asked upon meeting someone and consolidate it into a paragraph or two. Yet this is deceptively simple because, unless we think about it and plan, it comes across as: My name is… I am a… I live in… I have written… I…, I…, I…

This author may be the most selfless, humble, and thoughtful person in the world, but if every sentence starts with “I”, she comes across as perhaps a little too self-focused. In other words-give a good impression. First impressions matter. Think about each sentence like you are thinking about your writing. Ima Writer is my name. In the daytime, my four children and husband are my priority. Once the kids are in bed and the DH is watching TV, I turn into . . . See the difference?

The third person bio is just weird. Wait, we say, I’m writing about myself like I’m someone else. That’s kind of creepy.

Creepy or not, it’s how things are done. Being creative is good here, and remember, this may be the first thing a reader, agent, editor, or someone else important to your publishing future, knows about you.

First of all, say something that catches the reader’s attention. “An airline pilot for fifteen years, Susie Smith decided to write a novel while laid up with a broken leg. . .” Or, if you don’t have such an interesting background, accolades that have come your way help. “Winner of the 2012 Genesis Contest in Long Historical Romance, Debbie Darling. . .”

Continue with a few words about your accomplishments or background in the writing realm or an activity that makes you unique. Then finish up with something personal without going too far. “She lives in Louisiana with her husband and six cats, all of whom love Cajun food.”

The words “author bio” sound intimidating, but do not let them frighten you. A bio simply boils your life and writing career down to a few words as possible, rather like the pitch about your protagonist.

Author Speaker Teacher Coffeeholic Wife and Cat Magnet

Author of eleven books and two novellas, Laurie Alice Eakes has won the National Readers Choice Award and has been a Carol finalist. She is an experienced writing teacher and speaker and has her master’s degree in writing.

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