Friday, May 3, 2013

Building the Buzz: Day 3 Writing your Bio

Today we are continuing our week of setting up a strong marketing foundation. So let's talk bios.

After a nice cover catches your eye in the book store, the next place most readers look is the back cover copy. It gives us a two paragraph snapshot of a book to help us decide if it's worth picking up. Your biography is the personal equivalent of the back cover copy. It's a short, and hopefully intriguing, glimpse of what readers can expect from you.

Let's start with what a biography should not be. It shouldn't be a whole page long. I know some of you are laughing, but I have actually seen live (on the web) bio pages that require a reader to scroll way down. Trust me, no one is reading this unless you are famous. Sorry, but as the author, you aren't important enough for a full page.

Your bio should also not be a listing of all your publications, awards, educational degrees, etc. Feel free to put all of that info somewhere else on your website, but don't put it in your bio. Now, before you start crying foul, there is an exception to this rule. If you have won a major award (something a non-writer person would recognize) or your book hits the NYT bestsellers list, then this is okay. But keep it brief. For example: Jane Writer is the author of NYT bestseller "Title of Book".

So what should your bio be? Above all, your bio should be interesting and memorable. How do you know? Read some bios. If you start scanning the web, you'll find a pattern when it comes to biographies. Most of them start out "Jane Author has been reading since she picked up her first copy of a (some famous children's book) and starting writing at the young age of (a young age). She enjoys (a list of unrelated hobbies) and lives in (state) with (laundry list of family members and pets)."

If this is your biography in a nutshell, stop reading this and go delete it. Not only is this not interesting, it is so generic the details are immediately forgettable or easily confused with another writer. Blending in is the exact opposite of what you want to achieve.

I would suggest starting your biography with a brief line (two at the most) that immediately makes you stand out. What makes you uniquely you. It doesn't need to be writing related, though it's a nice touch.

After this bio intro, move on to the meat of your biography. Keep in mind, this should also be unique and memorable. The tone you pick is up to you. You may want to go funny, formal, mysterious, sexy, or literary. The choice is up to you, but I suggest matching the tone of your biography to what you write. If you write edge of your seat thrillers, I'd stay away from a light-hearted or tongue-in-cheek humor bio. Instead, use short, tension building sentences that weave a little mystery into who you are. If you write erotica, then pour in the sexy adjectives at will.

At the end of your bio, be sure to include your social media links. Even though these will be easily elsewhere on your website, having them listed with our bio is another way to let people know where they can find you.

For today's task, take a good hard look at your bio page. Is it just there to fulfill an obligation or are you maximizing that space to sell yourself to potential readers? You didn't settle for good enough in your writing so don't do it here either. Once you've got the perfect bio, be sure to update it on all your social media sites. Just like with your headshot, you want to use the same bio everywhere. And for Twitter, use that catchy opening line. :)


  1. Ha! I'm ahead of the game. I went somewhere this weekend and introduced myself as Beth and someone said, "You're the keeper of the ELF!" ;)

  2. how cliche am I! I do nee dto make my bio consist all across platforms. I have a smaller one for twitter ect.

    What do you do when your bio is already published? Here's mine.

    Eliza graduated from Dowling College with a BS in Visual Communications. When she’s not arguing with excel at her day job, or playing Dragon Age 2, again, she’s writing. Her stories hold a bit of the fantastical and there’s always a romance. She resides on Long Island with her husband, two kids and one very snuggly pit bull.

    At first, when You started talking about the bio, I thought, wow I got it!

  3. I don't have the same bio over everything, so I'll need to change that. Twitter is different than everything else. I've been thinking about how to make my bio interesting. I like to look at other author's bios to see how they make is special and interesting.

  4. Yeah, I've read tons of those, "Jane Doe started writing when she was five..." Snooze. My bio (on my agent's blog) is only about 100 words, full of quirky and (hopefully) interesting stuff. :-)

  5. How's this?

    In high school, Bridget Baker was on the swim team, the debate team, and in several plays. She was BYU's youngest college graduate at the age of 19, graduating after only two years of classes. She was the youngest law school grad at 22 and the youngest lawyer in Texas for nearly two years.

    Bridget married a wonderful man and had four kids in five years. Her husband promptly lost his hair. It's a good thing she thinks bald guys are hot.

    Bridget has owned two wallabies--Sydney, and her daughter Kanga. She loves animals and named her last daughter after her first dog.

    Her favorite things in the world are her family, cookies, and books, but not necessarily in that order.


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