Tuesday, December 3, 2013

You are Killing Yourself with a Weak (on nonexistent) Writer’s Bio—or Why a Writer's Bio is Essential

by Edie Melson

I’ve been accused of being blunt and forthright, and I suppose the title of this post proves it’s true. But really people, don’t you realize how important those few lines at the end of a guest post or article really is? That space is valuable real estate and you’re growing weeds on it.

I’ll say it again, you are killing yourself with a weak writer’s bio.

What a Bio NOT Supposed to do:
Let me share what a writer’s bio is NOT designed to do. It’s not there to make me want to become your best friend. Sure I want enough info so I know you’re a real person, but my time (and everyone else’s) is in short supple, so don’t make me wade through folksy humor to get to what I need. If I want to get to know you better I’ll look up your blog and follow you on social media.
What a Bio IS Supposed to do:
There are several reasons to have a writer’s bio ( and several sizes you need—but more on that later).

1. Because people are curious and suspicious. If I’m going to read something online, I at least want to know who wrote it. I’m leery of articles that don’t have an author. Is it computer generated (yes they can do that), is it stolen (happens all the time), is the author ashamed of having written it?

2. Because I may like what you have to say and want to read more. If what you’ve written resonates with me, I’m going to want to go deeper. No bio either means a dead-end (if I’m busy) or a lot of extra sleuthing on the Internet. Trust me when I say this, a lot of you are NOT easy to find—but that’s another post.

3. Because I want to share the post through social media. I know I CAN share it even if there’s no bio or attribution, but then my followers run into #1 and #2 above . . . and they complain to me. I’ve worked hard to build a strong online community, so I refuse to send out things that will knowingly frustrate them.

What You Have to Have
1. Links. You want to be found, by readers, by friends, by other writers. That’s hard to do when you don’t at least leave us a trail of breadcrumbs. Here are the links you need:
  • Blog/website
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

These are the bare minimum. Of course if you don’t have these three, then you need to read my post on Gaining Traction with Social Media instead of Spinning Your Wheels. 

2. A sentence or two about your credibility. For me it’s a quick line about how long I’ve been in the industry and how many books I have.

That’s it. You probably thought you needed all sorts of things, but you don’t. Now you’re probably wondering how you organize all this information and I’ve got you covered there, too.

Compose Your Bio:
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. So the first thing is . . .

1. Keep it Relevant: For example, if you’re not writing about how to sell something, it isn’t important to mention your job 15 years ago as an outside sales person. Think relevant when you’re composing your bio.

2. Organize it with the important stuff up front. I know our families are important to us, that’s not what I mean. This is a business and although I’m happy to learn you have a successful marriage, that’s not the first thing I need to know. So start with your credibility, then move into how I find you and your books.

3. Include EMBEDDED hyperlinks when you send a bio to someone else to post. Don’t type out the full URLs, but actually embed the link to the words BLOG, TWITTER and FACEBOOK, as well as any others that are relevant. The reason you want to have the words already linked is because of the word count guidelines you’ll run into. You don’t want to waste your word count on a hyperlink—especially if you only have 20-25 words.

If you’re not sure how to insert links into a word document (or anywhere else) here’s a post on EverythingYou Need to Know about Hyperlinks

How Many Bios Do I Really Need?
In a word, several. Depending on the guidelines of where you’re submitting it could be as small as 20-25 words or as long as several paragraphs. I try to keep several CURRENT versions of my bio in a file, easy to access.

Here are some examples:
25 word bio:
Edie Melson is an author, freelance writer and editor with years of experience. Connect with her on her blog – TheWrite Conversation, Twitter or Facebook.

50 word bio:
Edie’s an author, freelance writer and editor. She’s the co-director of the Blue RidgeMountains Christian Writers Conference, Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy, and Social Media Director for Southern Writer’s Magazine, as well as the Senior Editor for Novel Rocket. Visit her on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

100 word bio:
Edie Melson is the author of four books, with two more due out January 2014. Her popular blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands of writers each month, and she’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian WritersConference. Her bestselling ebook on social media has just been updated and re-released as Connections:Social Media & Networking Techniques for Writers. She’s the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy and the social media director for Southern Writers Magazine. She’s also the Senior Editor at NovelRocket. You can connect with Edie through Twitter and Facebook.

150 word bio:
Edie Melson is the author of four books, with two more due out January 2014. As a respected freelance writer and editor with years of experience in the publishing industry, she’s connected with writers and readers throughout the country. Her bestselling ebook on social media has just been re-released as Connections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for WritersHer  popular writing blog, The Write Conversation, gives her the opportunity to share what she’s learned and mentor others. She’s the co-director of the BlueRidge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, as well as a popular faculty member at numerous others. She’s also the Social Media Mentor for My Book Therapy,  the Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine, and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket. Be sure to connect with her through Twitter and Facebook. 

300 word bio:
Edie Melson is a leading professional in the writing industry. She’s a sought after writing instructor; and her heart to help others define and reach their dreams has connected her with writers all over the country. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge MountainsChristian Writers Conference, as well as a popular faculty member at numerous others.

She’s a prolific writer, publishing thousands of articles over the years, and has a popular writing blog, The WriteConversation. Edie is a regular contributor on the popular Novel Rocket and Inspire a Fire websites, as well as social media director for Southern Writers Magazine.

In keeping up with the leading edge of all things digital Edie has become known as one of the go-to experts on Twitter, Facebook, and social media for writers wanting to learn how to plug in. Her bestselling eBook on this subject, has recently been updated and expanded and re-released as Connections:Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers.

Fighting Fear, Winning theWar at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle, is Edie’s heart project. This devotional book for those with family members in the military debuted on Veterans Day, 2011. Look for her two newest books for military families debuting in January 2014: While My Son Serves and While My Husband Serves.

She’s a member of numerous civic and professional organizations, including Blue Star Mothers, the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, The Christian Pen, and American Christian Fiction Writers. She’s also the Social Media Mentor for My Book Therapy, the Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine, and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com.

Edie has been married to high school sweetheart, Kirk, for 30+ years and they’ve raised three sons. You can also connect with Edie on Twitter and Facebook.

I think you get the picture, and now it’s your turn. What questions do you have about a writer’s bio? Share them in the comments section below.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!




  1. Great article. Just made some necessary adjustments to my bio this morning :o)!!!

    1. Connie, so glad I was able to help! Blessings, E

  2. Good tips, Edie. I tend to hurry through the bio, so this is helpful. Too many new writers don't think of themselves as professionals. That's part of the problem. So they tend to be cute in their bios instead of sounding like they have a right to be there. Project the professional image and the rest will follow.

    1. Ron, it's so easy to let the bio be an afterthought, but don't give in. And you're so right, thinking like a professional cures 90% of the problem! Thanks for sharing your insight. Blessings, E

  3. I've got a number of bios, so I don't feel to out of it, Edie! But I think I'll do some tweaking on mine. Thanks for keeping us on the "cutting edge" of cyber media. I always take your advice!!

    1. Ane, your bios are spot on. I almost used one as an example of how to do it right! Blessings, E

  4. Thanks Edie. My bio is very unsatisfactory right now - too much personal, not enough business, but then, my whole blog is a combination of those things, so I'm trying to figure out what is a good blend. Your tips and samples are terriffic ( as always)...

    1. Gayle, we all have to start somewhere. You should have seen my early bios! LOL! And it doesn't matter what the focus of your blog is about. The bio is about you and your credibility. Blessings, E

  5. Wonderful, Edie! I was just preparing a note to ask for expanded bios from our new ACFW-SC Board Members for each to hand out at our first Board meeting, Dec. 12, so we can get to know each other better. I am sending this blog out with the request and ALSO will do some tweaking on my own longer bio, you bet! Enjoyed all your bios! Great examples.

    1. Elva I'm glad the timing worked out well! Thanks for the encouragement, Blessings, E

  6. Replies
    1. Jennifer, thanks so much for stopping by, Blessings, E

  7. How do you know when to use which one? Is there a general rule, or does the publication specify those details for you?

    1. Ellen, usually the publication will give you a word count. But if they don't, I look at the bios of others who have been published there and use that as a guideline. Hope this helps, Blessings, E

  8. What if you are a beginner and don't have a lot of "bragging rights" to list. Mine is so short unless I put personal in them.

    1. Lillian, great question! I should have included one of my earlier bios. Here's one from about 2008.

      Edie Melson is a writer with a heart. She loves digging in and finding out what’s relevant to her readers. Married 28 years with 3 sons, she knows the world is constantly changing and often finds herself on the cutting edge of that process. As a freelance writer her byline has appeared in several nation magazines and top websites, including ‘Focus on the Family’ and crosswalk.com. Her passion can be summed up in three words – speak the truth.

      At this point, I'd only had about 5 articles published. But several carried good name recognition, so I capitalized on those.

      Hope this helps! Blessings, E

  9. I'll begin writing mine tomorrow. Really, I don't know what I'd do without you:)