I love reading author's bios. I don't know what I think I will find, but I guess I want to know if the author is someone like me, (which gives me hope that I will be able to finish those pesky novels I've started) or has been given the name of a magic website that writes the books for him or her! (In that case I want to know where I can find that magic website.)
Regardless of whether your bio is for a book, website or magazine/newsletter article, think of it as a business card used to introduce yourself. Here are seven tips for writing your bio:
1) Write in third person.
Make it easy for copy editors to publish the information. When I was a typesetter/staff writer/copy editor at a local newspaper, I edited about 6 million press releases. If there were two press releases of equal importance, and I only had room for one, I would run the one that was already edited professionally and fit our style. Was I lazy? No. It's just that I had so much work that I never felt completely caught up and any little thing I could do to try to lighten the load was a welcome relief.
2) Set the tone.
Some writers keep the information completely formal and professional, while others include personal tidbits for a touch of fun or playfulness. As the writer, you set the tone. If you are writing about the funeral business for members of that profession, perhaps a serious tone would fit best. Keep your readers in mind.
3) Keep it short (but, see next item).
Promote yourself, but don't look at this as a resume or CV (think highlight reel).
4) Write a long bio for special occasions.
If Oprah or the Pulitzer people call, they will need all your background information.
5) List or link to your website or blog or other writing samples.
6) Include current and/or future projects.
7) Have someone edit to ensure professionalism, and correct spelling and grammar errors.
Although there are no hard and fast rules, bios should give readers insight into the author, and create interest in his or her work. Next week I'll share a couple of examples.