Today I'm starting a new series, Get Ready to Submit. Conference season is upon us and whether you've already attending one and are getting ready to submit requested material or are getting ready to attend and need to get everything in order—this series should help.
And trust me, none of us like writing them! But today I'm gong to give you the basics to help you conquer this hurdle.
But when I said every writer needs a bio I wasn't being completely accurate...
Actually, you need three.
- A small one, 25-50 words.
- A medium length one, approximately two paragraphs.
- A full page one, in depth.
Many times this written bio is the first introduction someone in this business (think editor or event coordinator) or a consumer (reader or attendee) will have of you. This, along with your message, can mean the difference between making the sale or not.
Your bio should reflect—through words—exactly who you are. It must be relevant and it must reflect your personality, as well as give you credibility.
Below are some (not all) of the instances where a bio will be necessary.
- Cover Letter (to an editor, agent or event coordinator).
- Book Proposal.
- Query Letter.
- Your website.
- Inside your book or on the jacket.
- Publicity for a personal appearance.
- In a publication (web or print) after an article.
It’s important to remember a bio isn’t a resume. It’s not necessary to include information that isn’t relevant to what you’re writing. For example, if you’re not writing about a salesperson, it isn’t important to mention your job 15 years ago as an outside sales person. Again, think relevant when you’re composing your bio.
Here are some steps to help you write an engaging bio:
Step One—ask yourself a few questions.
- What are some of my passions?
- Why am I pursuing this craft of writing and/or speaking?
- What value do I present my audience?
- What are some of my strengths?
- What impression do I leave with most people?
Don’t worry about sounding like an egomaniac when you answer, no one but you will see your rough draft. After answering those questions, try to come up with a one-sentence statement about yourself. Use active verbs and vivid adjectives.
Step Two—more questions.
- What is my experience in this field?
- What experience(s) in other fields are relevant to this field?
- What aspects of my personality give me credibility?
- What study(s) give me credibility?
- What life experience gives me credibility?
Step Three—get the order right.
Now begin to put the above information in order of importance. This isn’t the time to build up to the point. Think about who the bio is for and put the information that is most important for them to know FIRST.
Step Four—flesh it out.
Build a word pool. This is a list of words that appear when you answer these questions. As you see a trend emerge, use it. Amplify it by trading on words that bring your essence to mind.
Step Five – wrap it up.
Put it all together. It’s time to assemble the information you’ve gathered into your full-page bio. It's easier to start big and work backward to the smaller one. If you’re having problems pulling this full-page bio together, this is the time to get some feedback from close friends.
Once you have your full-page bio it’s time to sift through it and boil it down, first reduce it two paragraphs (try to keep it at no more than 200 words). Then cut it further to 25-50 words.
Need some examples? Check out the Media Page, here on my blog and see the different bios I have listed.
As you're writing your bio, you'll probably have some questions come up on what to include and what order is best. That's what this community is for. Post your questions in the comments below and we'll all chime in and help each other!
Don't forget to join the conversation!