Tuesday, April 12, 2011

You as the Main Character—Every Writer Needs a Bio

We've been discussing how to get prepared for a writers conference
here and
and today I want to talk about your personal bio. 

Every writer and speaker needs a bio, whether or not you're attending a conference.

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, with your message, can mean the difference between making the sale or not.

Your bio should reflect, through words, exactly who you are. It should boil down the essence of your personality. It should always be written in third person, as if you were talking about someone else.

A bio must be
  • Relevant
It must give you
  • Personality
  • 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 that you have control over your bio. Which means planning now. It will, in effect, be a part of your personal brand. It gives you credibility, whether you are speaking or writing. As such it should contain only things pertaining to your credibility and identity. For example, if you’re not speaking on sales, it isn’t important to mention your job 15 years ago as an outside sales person. Think relevant when you’re composing your bio.

So now it's your turn - do you have a bio? What are some tips and questions you have to writing one?
Don't forget to join the conversation!


  1. Ugh...I have so many different bios...as a musician and teacher, lol! How do you do a "writer" bio when you aren't a writer...yet? I do have a few articles published online, and I wrote newsletters when I was a missionary, many years ago...I'm not sure what to say. Hmmm.

    Also, I have a quick question about a proposal. I'm working on a proposal for a non-fiction (memoir). Since it is personal, should the overview be in first person?

  2. By the way, thank you for this series!!! I'm preparing for my first conference at the end of the month! Excited and REALLY nervous! :)

  3. Good questions, thanks for stopping by! First, you can compose a writer's bio from the direction of what you're writing about. Here's an example. When I first started I was writing Bible studies and devotions so I had quite a bit in my bio about who I was spiritually.

    As far as your question about the proposal I don't think there is a definitive 'right' answer. For me, I'd be more comfortable writing about myself in third person because then I could look at what was said more objectively.

    There's a great post by Eva Marie Everson today on the Blue Ridge site about proposals. I recommend you pop over there and take a look! www.brmcwc.com


  4. The bio...I don't think I ever finished mine from last year! Oops!

    I'd better get writing that early next week...thanks for the reminder, Edie!

    PS ~ Will you be doing a post on one sheets, as well? ;)

    Thanks again!

  5. I struggle to get a consistent bio across social media. I love connecting with people on Twitter and enjoy reading clever bios. Also thanks for the info on the proposal blog. I checked that out too. Very helpful.

  6. Alycia, yep - better get that bio finished! I already posted on the one sheet. Here's the link:
    Stacy, I'm glad that blog helped! For more indepth help with any of these issues you can join the Blue Ridge yahoo group. Here's the link:

  7. Special Note: Those links aren't clickable. You need to copy and paste the link into your browser.

  8. Actually, I've had an artist's bio for years, almost since I decided to go 'pro'.

    Granted, an artist bio and a writer's bio are different, but it was a simple matter to adapt my artist's bio to reflect writing interests.

    And, yes, I have a short one (though not quite as short as you recommend), a medium length one, a long one and, well, um, a really long one.

    I am a writer, after all!

  9. Edie, I have a short bio I use for articles and devotions. I am working on a long one, complete with photo, to send to publishers and agents, etc. Thank you for your advice. I know you are busy now. I've been praying for you and Vonda as you get ready for conference season.

  10. Thanks Carrie, there are definitely similarities between an artist's bio and a writer's. I actually got started writing bios for others because I'd write artist's bios for my mom's friends (She's an artist).
    Nan, thanks so much for the encouragement! Let me know if I can help.

  11. Can you tell me where to find an example of a bio? Preferable one by someone who does NOT already have twenty books under their belt?

    1. Wendy, here's a great bio from my friend, Pat Trainum. She just published her first book: http://ptbradley.com/about-me/ You can also look at posts on this blog from Lynn H Blackburn. Her bio is a great example of what to do with few credits. Hope this helps, Blessings, E

    2. My small one is one my one sheet but when do I use my medium and full page bios?

    3. Wendy, I use a longer one of the ABOUT ME page of my blog. Sometimes I use the medium one when I'm speaking somewhere and/or teaching at a writer's conference. I also use my long one in my media kit for my books. There are places where they come in handy. But I definitely use the small one the most. I hope this helps, Blessings, E

    4. Is there a photo of you on your bio?

    5. Wendy, not usually. People want your headshot sent separately, as a jpeg file. It's too hard to pull it out of a word document. Blessings, E

  12. I plan to publish under a pen name, so is it okay my bio would not contain the usual 'born here / studied this / worked at that' data but instead feature a deeply reflective but non-identifying portrait of the inner me?
    Thanks so much!
    Linnie https://linniepeterson.wordpress.com/

  13. Your blog has been a blessing to me for years, Edie. One of the things I love the most is that previous posts are available when I have a question.