BWL Art Director
During a conversation at the RT 2013 convention, the topic of Biographies came up. From there it got me to thinking about what makes a good biography (in my opinion anyways).
So I figured I would share my thoughts ... feel free to comment if you agree or disagree with me. : )
1. DO write in third person. I know, it may seem silly to write about yourself that way, but really - it just makes the biography sound better. Just avoid the royal "we" where possible. : )
So instead of saying "I love to write ______", it should read "Michelle loves to write ________"
2. DO mention interesting things about yourself. If you have traveled to an exotic place, especially if you found it inspirational, mention it.
3. DO share some small details. Now I am not saying give a full run down of your entire life from birth to the present. At the same time, readers like to feel like they are connecting with an author. So if you love to hike, or to cross-stitch, consider mentioning it. Just avoid going into the 'too-much-information' category. Some things are private - and should stay that way. *wink*
4. DO have fun with it. I love to read biographies where the author had a little bit of fun writing it. It should never come across to the reader that you felt it was a chore to write - even if it was.
5. DO include your website URL. I can't stress this enough!!! The purpose of a Bio is to share a little bit about yourself with readers - but also to let them know where to find more. It drives me nuts having to goole for an author's website, and sift through the mountain of links for their books on Amazon, Goodreads, etc. I want to find the author's website where I can see information they provide about their books. (Speaking of author websites - if you haven't already, check out my Top 5 DO'ES for websites post'.
This section I not so affectionately call the 'what were they thinking' tips ...
1. DON'T ever give dates in your bio. What I meant by that is, if you have a new book in your series coming soon - don't give the exact release date for when it will be coming out. The reason for this is two-fold. One - delays can and do happen. Two - it dates the biography. If you put a date in your biography, once that date has passed - then it should be updated. Problem with that is, most publishers don't have the time to upload a new bio for all of their authors each time a new book comes out, and you are certainly not going to want to go to all of the websites you have your bio up on and do the same. So save yourself the headache and don't go there.
If fact, I have found that shying away from the whole mentioning of the new books coming out, how many books your have available, etc. Again, just details that will get out of date and require the work and hassle of updating your bio at numerous websites.
2. DON'T be too specific. Don't give too many clues as to where you live, etc. Stalkers can and do happen. So make sure to protect yourself with a general "mid-Missouri" or whatever. You might have a contact address on your website - but you don't want it out there on every book, promo, review, etc. site in existence.
3. DON'T mention books released with another publisher. This one can be tricky. You want to mention awards and best-sellers and yet you don't want to mention books out with another publisher on another publishers website. Because let's face it, it is a little bit rude to say "Best-selling author of ____ book, and have the bio up on a different publisher's website. Kind of like having your prom pictures displayed at your wedding - when your spouse was not your prom date.
So how do you get around that?
There are a couple different ways. You can go the route of "published with ____, ____, and ____". Pitfall there is, you have to change all of your bios if you add or remove a publisher. I speak from personal experience here when I say it is a pain and a half to deal with.
Alternatively, you can create a tweaked bio for each publisher. To do this, you would create the generic bio you have on your website, and then for each publisher delete the details for other publishers that are not really appropriate. Then add in small details you want to highlight. Problem here is, then you run into issues with websites where your releases with numerous publishers. In those cases, generally the first publisher to upload a bio is the one shown for all releases.
My personal suggestion - a generic, one size fits all bio. And if you have a release you want to highlight, maybe consider a simple, check out my website at _____ for latest fan-favorite and best-seller information. That way you get in the URL for your website, a mention for your best-sellers, and still keep your publisher happy. Then on your website, you can highlight whatever you want to, without anyone's feathers being ruffled. Plus - when you only have one bio, it is very easy to copy and paste when submitting to a different publisher.
4. DON'T write a novel length bio. Yes, you want to give details. Yes, you want it to be fun and engaging. But you do not want it to take up more than a page of text. I'd say stick under 350 words. 500 words should be the maximum. Go for succinct.
5. DON'T stress the process. A lot of authors I know hate three parts about writing: the proposal, the publication info (writing the blurb, filling in a cover art form, and stuff like that), and writing a bio. Like I said before - try to have fun with it, but if nothing comes to you, go for simple.
Just telling the reader that you started out as a neuro-surgeon and then started writing when you were forced to take a vacation in a remote cabin in the woods (while hubby was hunting, fishing, etc - or due to ulcers, stress, and so on) and were without internet and phone. That's fine. You fell in love with the creative process when you actually had down-time and could think.
Maybe you started writing when your husband was deployed and the kids started school. That's cool too.
Or it could simply be a matter of you love writing, and have always done so. You started our writing in a journal, and in high school penned your first novella as a class assignment and it all went from there. Perfectly fine!
Remember the K.I.S.S. process. Keep It Simple Silly ...
So the first thing you are probably thinking right now is, well fine Miss Opinionated - what does your bio look like?
Now that you have seen my bio, how about some good examples from your fellow BWL authors.
These authors have (in my opinion) nice bios. I just kept hitting random authors pages until I found a couple good examples. So if your bio isn't here it doesn't mean anything ...
Jenna thinks everyone deserves a happy ending, and loves to provide as many of those as possible to her gay, lesbian and hetero characters. Her favorite quote, from a pro-gay billboard, is “Be careful who you hate. It may be someone you love.”
For the latest news, visit Jenna’s website at
When she's not working at the day job she loves, Jamie enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and watching movies (the scarier the better!) In her ‘spare time’ she can often be found writing, editing, or doing something more mundane like housework. After that, she's probably taking a nap. She loves to hear from readers, so feel free to drop her a line.
Find more about Jamie at these places online:
Remember, this post is just my opinion. Mileage may vary. So feel free to comment if you agree (or disagree) with my take on things.