Not only is it useful to know what you need to include in an author bio, it is also useful to see examples of how your vital information should look. This article will cover both what you need to include in your author bio and some examples of tight professional bios.
The Six Rules You Should Use to Write a Professional Bio
- Always write in the third person. Your professional bio is not an autobiography. You don’t say, “I have been a ghost writer for four years.” You say, “Jane Doe has been a ghost writer for four years.” It’s easier to trust a bio that appears to have been written by an objective observer.
- List provable facts. Don’t waste time sharing your dreams. “Jane Doe has always wanted to pursue writing as a career.” That’s not appropriate here. Only include information that you can back up with proof. “Jane Doe has provided her services independently and through the online employment forums oDesk and Elance.” These are facts that can be confirmed by a search on these forums.
- Include pertinent education and experience. If you have taken courses, you may want to include this, especially if your list of provable facts is difficult to confirm independently. Example later.
- Bring in memberships. Mention any memberships you have in writing clubs, business groups, etc.
- Keep the writing tight. Don’t get wordy. Display your best writing skills. Keep sentences short. Make sure every sentence really needs to be there.
- Hook, grab and hold. Make sure your bio includes something that is unique about you. Give the reader something to remember about you.
These rules don’t have to be applied in the order given. All you really need to do is include as many of them as possible. You may not have any education. Don’t fret over it. Build up your experience so you can change your bio.
Examples of These Rules in Action
“Denise Rutledge has been working with writing challenged clients for over four years. (How long you’ve been providing a service is useful information.) She provides ghost writing, coaching and ghost editing services. (What your services are is also useful) Her educational background in family science and journalism has given her a broad base from which to approach many topics. (Education and experience.) Her writing skills may be confirmed independently on oDesk.com and Elance.com. (Provable facts.) She especially enjoys preparing resumes for individuals who are changing
careers. (Hook, grab and hold.) You may learn more about her services at Writing as a Ghost.com. (Second hook, grab and hold.)”
“Writing challenged clients” in the opening sentence is also a potential hook, grab and hold.
“Jane Doe writes SEO articles for businesses that want to see their Google search rankings surge.(What she does.) Her articles have appeared in a number of e-zine sites, including EzineArticles.com, ArticlesBase.com, HubPages.com and TRCB.com. (Way to confirm her skills.) She contributes articles about SEO techniques regularly to Site-Reference Newletter.com. (Her experience level.) Her articles focus on balancing informative with SEO needs–but never at the expense of providing an entertaining read. (There’s the hook.) Learn more about how Jane’s SEO articles could grow your
business by visiting her blog at JaneDoeSEOArticlesBlog.com.”
You might notice that neither example includes a membership. If a rule doesn’t apply, don’t worry about it. If you have to weigh which is more valuable, experience always wins.
You’ve come to the spot where we’re going to learn everything that could be in a submission package you put together for an agent or editor. If you’ve had a look through CWIM, the CBC member list, or other publications, you’ve probably heard the words listed above before. And guess what? People will give you different definitions of these terms all the time. It’s completely crazy. BUT I will tell you how C LIU defines everything. I hope it will make sense to you, too.
- query letter – formatted like a business letter. Its purpose is to briefly pitch your work to its intended recipient (be it agent or editor). Read post, anatomy of a query letter.
- cover letter – also formatted like a business letter. Its purpose is to put something official-looking on top of your manuscript if the editor or agent has requested your work. Read post, anatomy of a cover letter.
- synopsis – a ONE page summary of your book – beginning, middle, and end. Written in third person, present tense. The synopsis should be interesting to read and clearly spell out what happens in the book without belaboring it. Read post, anatomy of a synopsis.
- outline – a chapter-by-chapter summary of your book- few sentences per chapter, max. Almost always reads like a run-down of events. That is not to say you can’t make it interesting!
- author bio – a couple of graphs MAX about who you are
- SASE – a self-addressed stamped envelope
- SASP – a self-addressed stamped postcard
There will be more on each of these items as I get time to write them. If you want to know now, tell me your thoughts.
Otherwise, go to step eight – pray.
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