As an adult educator and a technical and fiction writer/editor, I have helped hundreds of students and clients polish their resumes. My mantra has always been, “You have to blow your own horn, because no one else will.” This advice is applies to writing a Bio as well, but it can be intimidating no matter where we are in our professional life.
Since a Bio is shorter than a resume, it is a piece of cake to write, correct? Not necessarily so. A Bio is a crucial aspect of an author’s branding strategy. We need to highlight our writing accruements in a tasteful and professional manner without appearing to be full of ourselves.
There is a lively discussion on this subject on Jane Friedman’s web site: www.writerunboxed.com. I have reiterated some of the points and added a few of my own below.
1. Before you begin, examine other author Bios in your genre of writing.
2. Write your Bio in third person.
3. The art of Bio writing is compression, not more adjectives and adverbs. Think in terms of your marketing persona not your writing persona.
4. Craft a generic Bio with your:
a. Story (current activities, where you reside);
b. Backstory (previous activities);
c. Applicable external validations (writing or publishing credits, formal education or training, awards, writing organizations you belong to; volunteer interests);
d. Since your author Bio is essentially your business card, provide your contact information, e.g., your web and/or blog and e-mail address.
5. Review and revise your draft Bio to post on your web site or blog. In this longer Bio (e.g. 150 words or more), you may wish to include a comment of a personal nature that readers may identify with. Some authors cleverly inject a humorous comment into their list of credits.
6. For Bios to use on other social media sites or to accompany query letters to publishers or agents, pare down your generic version (e.g. to 50 – 100 words). Don’t be shy about varying the content on each of your shorter versions to appeal to your target audience.
7. Seek feedback on your draft Bio from other authors or an editor and ensure it is grammatically correct before posting it.
Finally, take a deep breath and have fun with this task. If deep breathing doesn’t help, have a glass of wine then try again.