Writing a bio is similar to writing a personal character reference – about you! People who scrutinize Biographies not only learn about your writing projects, but about your personality.
Some of the points that can be gleaned from your presentation are:
Is the look of your Bio professional? The degree of professionalism represents the quality of the rest of your writing.
Is the writing in Third Person? Does this person over-do talking about him or herself?
What exactly have you written? Genre is important. Never send work to someone who doesn’t handle the type of writing you’re trying to sell.
Where have you been published? This not only tells the quality of your writing, but the audience for whom you write.
Are you a prolific writer or a beginner? The more you are published, the more experience you should have. Are you willing to put forth great effort to succeed?
What PERSONALITY type projects from the overall composition? A person who writes murder mysteries has a different personality from one who writes spiritual poetry.
This lengthy version of my Biography is published in an online workshop. Because it is posted in a private workshop, where all participants promote their accomplishments, writing a Bio can be quite thorough. However, notice how much of my history (from the first Biography page) has been left out.
Some General Requirements:
When writing a Bio, do not include dialogue. You will be writing in Third Person, relating a group of facts only. The telling needs to be explanatory writing; yet, not descriptive writing that is flowery or exaggerated.
When writing a personal character reference about yourself to submit with a body of writing, the page will usually begin simply with the word “Biography” set on the left margin. It can be set in bold print. You may choose to center it.
Note that when writing a Bio, it is acceptable to place the first appearance of your full name in bold print. The full name should appear as close to the beginning of the first paragraph as possible. Recurrences of your name need not be in bold or italicized.
Anything you wish to draw mild attention can be placed in italics but not in bold.
Personal links can be included when writing a Bio for a workshop. Though I have not set the link here as clickable, make sure you set the link hot in the workshop.
Nothing is more frustrating than wanting to make a quick jump into a person’s site, only to have to copy and paste it into the browser instead. Most of the time, it won’t be done. The link and its intended purpose will be overlooked.
If you think a dead link is not important in a workshop setting, think again. Agents, editor, and publishers frequent the best workshops. I hope you will be too.
When writing a Bio to send when querying literary agents and such, leave off the URL. They don’t have time to chase after links. They want to see how you present yourself in the INITIAL contact - your Biography.
Book or story titles are usually allowed in bold print and italics the first time they appear when writing a Bio for any use. Too much bold should be avoided. It distracts from a smooth read-thru. Put recurring titles in italics only.
Let's begin analyzing segments.
Biography Sections Analyzed
Mary Deal was co-Founder and 1996-97 President of Kauai Writer’s Roundtable. She writes in several genres.
The Tropics: Child of a Storm - Caught in a Rip - Hurricane Secret is an adventure/romance and her first novel published. The Tropics is a trilogy of intertwined novellas about perils and dangers inherent in island living, with people being stretched to the limits of survival. The stories take place in both the Caribbean and Hawaiian Islands. Prior to publication, one of the novellas, Caught in a Rip, was workshopped on Zoetrope, which is Francis Ford Coppola’s Virtual Studios. Caught in a Rip received high ratings, and was held by the Zoetrope editors for a year. More on that, as well as an excerpt and Rave Reviews for the novel, on Mary’s Web site:
Always, when writing a Bio, give yourself some credibility. If you are writing a Bio to impress, people want to know some of your involvement in the area of your choice.
Show your involvement without complimenting yourself. You do that by stating only the facts. If I added that once the writer’s club was organized, we planned and attended the Maui Writer’s Conference together as a group that would be patting myself on the back. It’s also superfluous because clubs do such things.
Writing a Bio is the same as writing a personal character reference. You never want to sound boastful.
It is not necessary at this point to show what my partner and I organized for the club members. It isn’t necessary to mention her name though she gets half the credit for organizing the club and its activities. Writing a Bio is about one person, in this case, me. Later, in other writings, it’s okay to mention the co-founder and give her the praise she deserves.
Whenever you include the story logline in your Biography set it off in italics. This tells the reader it’s something different from the body of information. The logline is, of course, your entire story summarized in fewer than 50 words!
With any story you want to publish, you should already have thought out exactly how to describe the plot in one or two sentences.
Some requirements are that you to do this in 25-30 words. But it is doable. We will cover this more thoroughly on another page, possibly through another article in the Articles section.
I tell about my first novel published, The Tropics, simply because I have published the book. Briefly stated is what the book is about and special events that happened on the road to publication.
When writing a Bio that is published in a private workshop, if you list your achievements, it inspires others to keep striving. People wish to emulate you. And, too, some will be totally envious. The beauty of publishing a long Bio in a workshop is that you can clearly show all you’ve accomplished, or hope to. You’re a doer.
I set a hot link to my Web site from the workshop because I want people to click through and read the wild ride of a portion of The Tropics that was workshopped. It is not necessary to add that information when writing a Bio. Too, people will also have the opportunity to read about my other stories after the click-through.
On this site, Write Any Genre, you can read much more about my novels by clicking into the Novels section. Exciting first chapters will be analyzed from both books, and any future ones too.
Paragraphs 3 to 5…
The Ka is a paranormal Egyptian fantasy. Egyptian magic interpreted from hieroglyphs by a modern-day archaeological team activates ancient spells and rituals that will haunt them for the rest of their lives. This novel was completed after four years of research, and another four years of writing, re-researching, and polishing.
(Title withheld) A mystery/suspense novel set in a fictitious West Coast area. The first draft of this manuscript was completed during the years of research for The Ka and was put aside till Ka was written and polished.
(Title withheld) Another mystery/suspense novel, takes place in her hometown area of the Sacramento River Delta in California.
These are short synopses of books I’ve written. The Ka is published. The two with titles withheld are complete and ready to publish.
Withhold titles when writing a Bio for public viewing for this very important reason:
When you register your manuscript, or send it out for a copyright, you only copyright the WAY YOU’VE WRITTEN the story. Titles cannot be copyrighted. If you’ve spent hours conjuring the perfect title for a book that took months-to-years to complete, you don’t want your title stolen by someone who can publish his or her book faster and use your title first.
Likewise, I do not state the logline for each of these stories because I don’t want someone stealing the ideas. In fact, one of my novels has such a unique plot. If it were stolen, after all the effort I put into that 104,000-word story, I’d croak!
Though not shown, the logline for the first untitled mystery is 20 words long. The logline for the second untitled mystery is 33 words long.
If you have one or more projects at various stages of writing development, then specifically mention when writing a Bio where you are in your progress. When writing a Bio, brief comments are okay, like… have finished the first draft, or, am in the editing stages, etc. The reason is given in the sixth paragraph explanation below.
Mary currently seeks agency representation for the latter two novels, which are complete and polished.
I mention seeking literary agency representation here because you never know who will read your Bio. A published author may pass your Bio to her agent or editor. Writers sometimes love another writers’ work and pass the information to their agents. They would definitely include your Bio.
You never know who might contact you. So if you have work ready to submit, make sure your writing is polished, and includes the line that you seek agency representation.
Paragraphs 7 to 11…
Other books, both fiction and nonfiction, in progress are:(Title withheld)
Nostalgic and humorous nonfiction book, about my singer/musician mother’s cross-country migration during the Great Depression. Specifically includes her audacious idioms and advice. Mom’s old-time language and advice to bridge a generation gap…or widen it!
How to Organize a Writer's Club is one of several e-books soon to be available through her Web site.
(Title withheld) Another adventure/romance that takes place in Puerto Rico, the Caribbean Sea Islands, and Hawaii.
(Title withheld) Mainstream romance set in the Sea Cliff area of San Francisco, California.
These tell about work already completed, perhaps stories that are in the process of being written or are finished and in need of editing. These are okay to include when writing a Bio for a workshop.
When you mention stories, particularly completed novels waiting for representation, you may include the 50-word logline, known to some as a High Impact Statement. Tell what the plot is about. Notice that I did this with my mother’s humor book. I’m not afraid of that book idea being stolen. Even if it were, my book would still be unique because my mother was such a character.
The Ka, also published, is shown above with the exact logline I used when shopping the story for agency representation. See the sentence in italics, way above, where I talk about The Ka. It’s only 25 words.
The logline for my mother’s book is only 12 words long. This could be lengthened simply because more words are allowed. When writing a Bio for mailing purposes, a few more words would attract additional interest to the project.
(When I have attracted an agent to any of my books, additional information will be added to this page.)
The latter three books in this section all need further editing, so no logline is completed though they are written and titled. Nor when writing a Bio is it important at this time to say exactly which of these books will also be sold as e-books on this site.
Paragraphs 12 to 14…
Mary has begun outlining her next novel, another paranormal fantasy that takes place in the Hawaiian Islands.
This story was plotted back in the late 1960s when she lived in the Caribbean. She is converting the setting to the Hawaiian Islands. Modern forensics and technological advancement will enhance an already bizarre plot. Her first screenplay, Sea Storm, adapted from the first of the three stories in The Tropics, was a Semi-Finalist in a Moondance International Film Festival competition.
Mary’s short stories, photos, poetry, essays, letters, gag lines, recipes, and other writings have placed in numerous anthologies, magazines, papers and periodicals, and on the Internet. Her company, Mele Publishing doing business as Starving Writer’s Reprieve, offers various writing contests. She has successfully conducted two international writing contests, each offering a $1,000 Grand Prize. Writing contests with cash awards will be resumed on her Web site:
Wrap up by giving more of your credentials. At this point, many people writing a Bio for a workshop list all the publications in which their work has appeared, along with the titles of the pieces and awards, if any. If you’re a prolific writer, this list will be long. Workshop Bios allow this. You are writing a personal character reference that lets workshop members know exactly who you are. It may be the only place you can include that much information.
When writing a Bio, write two copies, one with the list, one without it.
California born and presently residing on the island of Kauai in Hawaii, Mary has lived in England and the Caribbean.
Just a one-liner more about you to wrap things up; also to bring the reader’s attention back to whom all these illustrious credentials belong.
Some final notes:
Of course, when writing a Bio, do not number the segments as I have here. This was done to make the length easier to follow.
Remember, when writing a Bio for yourself; indent the first line of each paragraph.
If you include weak statements like, “She is hoping to publish her first book,” this says you have not accomplished or taken any major steps. You present yourself having hope that things will happen, instead of getting things done in spite of your lack of credentials. You would rather have people know you from the beginning as a doer.
For example, instead of “She is hoping to publish her first book,” simply say, “She is preparing her first book for publication.”
That’s it for writing a Bio that you could use in an online workshop, or any other place that allows for fuller descriptions.
Yes. Whew! It’s a lot of work, but think about not only what goes into writing a Bio but what to leave out. Writing a Bio is fun and gives your muse a great workout.
We also analyze writing a Bio in much shorter versions.