Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Publishing as a Second Language—Writer Bios

by Linda Gilden @LindaGilden

You have just had your first article accepted for publication. At the end of the acceptance letter are the words, “Please send us a 50-word bio.”

Your bio is your chance to introduce yourself to the readership of the magazine. But 50 words is not a lot so you must make every word count. 

If this is your first bio, there are several things you should know.
  • Write your bio in third person.
  • Begin with your name. Doing this will remind them who you are and use the opportunity to build your platform and name recognition. 
  • Write one or two sentences about yourself that will help the reader get to know you and what you do. Don’t be shy or concerned about what your readers will think. This is where you want to make a connection with your readers. You won’t have space to tell everything but concentrate on those things that relate to your article or book. For instance, if your book is titled How to Overcome Depression, and you are a doctor with a specialty in mental disorders, be sure to mention that in the bio. If you won the US National skateboarding championship two years in a row, that is not pertinent even though you may be very proud of your accomplishment.
  • End your bio with a bit of personal information or something humorous or both. Readers like to feel like they know you and often connect with where you live, the size of your family, or your favorite hobby.
  • If you want to mention other published works, only list one. There is not room for every publishing credit you have.
  • If the publication allows, list your website so readers know where to look for more information.
  • Give editors what they ask for. If they have requested a 50-word bio, give them no more than 50 words. Don’t assume they will find your life so interesting that if you send a hundred words they will enjoy the extra information. More often it is a matter of space than what they want to know and their space availability won’t change.

Over the course of your writing journey you will use bios of many lengths. If you need a bio for publicity such as a media kit, a television or radio station, a one-page bio will work. You can share all your credentials, awards, and accomplishments. If a bio accompanies an article or is in a query letter, a paragraph is enough. Find out the requirements of the publication and stay within their parameters. If you don’t have the guidelines, study the magazine with special attention to the bios—How long are they? Are they personal? Model your bio after those in the magazine.

There may be times that you are asked for a bionote. This is a very short bio, usually one sentence. You must choose your words very carefully and only use key words that show your qualifications to write the article.

Create a bio file in your computer. Every time you create a new bio, file it by number of words. That way when you are asked for a bio by word count or for a short bio or long bio, you can easily find one you can use or update quickly. When you have numerous bios in your file, you may want to search by date. That will bring your latest bio to the top and you can modify as needed. Once you build your bio file, you can be ready to provide a bio of any length in a minimum amount of time.


Linda Gilden is an award-winning writer, speaker, editor, certified writing and speaking coach, and personality consultant. Linda recently released Articles, Articles, Articles! and is the author of over a thousand magazine articles and 18 books including the new LINKED Quick Guides for Personalities. She loves to help others improve their writing through editing and coaching and especially enjoys being part of their “Aha!” moments. Linda’s favorite activity (other than eating folded potato chips) is floating in a pool with a good book surrounded by splashing grandchildren—a great source of writing material!


  1. Hello, this is awesome content and thank you for share this blog. In Digital World having bag full of Social Media, Selecting Right Social Media for your business is a challenge as all social media are not appropriate for all business similar to selecting right Social Media Marketing Company in Delhi among lots of Digital Marketing Company on one street.

  2. Thanks Ms. Linda. I've got several versions, but need to improve upon them by applying your article to each. God's blessings ma'am.

  3. Great tips. Never too early to learn how to write a proper bio.

  4. Brilliant post. Am filing my bios by word count now. Thank you!

  5. Excellent information. I have updated my bio several times. When I see the same bio from a writer over and over, I tend to look away. If there is new information about the writer, I like to read their bio. :-)

  6. Lots of great tips here, Linda. Thank you! So of course, I read your bio with extra attention but chuckled out loud at the "eating folded potato chips" comment. My sisters and I always dig those out and hold them up like we found the prize in the Cracker Jack box! LOL!

  7. Thanks to all for your comments. Bios are fun and it's kind of like putting the cherry on top when you craft one to make your articles shine!