A week ago, I blogged about what you should have put together before you start querying agents. One of those is a bio. If writing your own bio freaks you out, you're not alone. When I first started writing them, they really intimidated me. It felt weird to talk about myself in third person, and I had a hard time gauging what was important and what wasn't. But bios are a valuable and necessary art form if you're hoping to get published, and once you get used to them, they're not so bad.
Let's start with a few pointers. Bios should be written in third person, especially if this is something you're putting in your book proposal. They should reflect who you are and why you are qualified for whatever it is your bio is being applied to. By which I mean, why you're qualified to write your blog or write your manuscript or be speaking on such-and-such.
This is where youth can be a drawback. Because - to put it frankly - you haven't really done much yet. My bio when I went to the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in 2007 was "Stephanie Morrill lives in Orlando, Florida. She is a member of ACFW." Now, I could have written a better bio, had I received a few tips about it, but being a member of ACFW was about all I had to my name at that time. I couldn't even put a college degree on there.
Here are some options for what you can put in a bio as an unpublished writer:
- What you write
- Why you write it
- Any awards you might have won for your writing or articles you may have had published.
- Your blog
- Any special education you have (college degree or whatever)
- Something that qualifies you to write this book (if you're writing about missionaries in Africa and you were raised in Africa by missionaries, you should mention that.)
- A few things you're passionate about, particularly if they're unusual
- Any writing societies you're a member of
So what does that look like? Here's an example using a character of mine, who happens to be a high school girl trying to get her manuscript published:
Gabrielle Hoskins lives in Visalia, California though often fantasizes about being born in a different time and place. This is probably why she writes medieval romances for teens. She is a member of American Fiction Writers and blogs obsessively about her journey as a young novelist. She is passionate about indie rock, novels with strong heroines, and lattes with the perfect amount of foam.
Now, I spent about 7 minutes writing that so it's far from flawless, but it at least gives you an idea of what you can do with a bio when you don't have a ton of writing credentials to your name. I particularly want to point out that last sentence. I could say, "She likes music, reading, and coffee." But that doesn't tell you much about Gabrielle, because I bet you can name 50 people who like music, reading, and coffee. And the "novels with strong heroines" part also tells you a little something extra about what you can expect from one of Gabrielle's manuscripts.
Like all things writing related, if you want to get better at writing bios, it's a good idea to read lots of them. Clicking here will take to the page of judges for Go Teen Writers. You can scroll through those and see which ones grab you.
If you're feeling really brave, you can post your bio in the comments section and get a little feedback...
Have a great weekend everyone! If you haven't already, don't forget to check out award winning author Sarah Sundin's post from Tuesday and get entered to win Blue Skies Tomorrow.