I’ve been involved in marketing and public relations for many years now, and I am still amazed at how difficult it is for most professional people to write a brief paragraph or two that describes their business experience. I’ve worked with CEOs and other executives who are incredibly smart and qualified business men and women, but if I ask them for a bio to send out with a press release, I usually get their multi-page resume.
Through my many years of publishing experience at Virtual Tales and Barking Rain Press, I see that this problem is very common—even for professional writers. Writing fiction and writing a professional bio are completely different tasks (or at least, they should be). So I hope that this writer’s workshop on how to write your author bio will be able to help you create your own professional bio, because if you are serious about becoming an author, you need to have one.
So let’s get started!
A good bio will help you promote yourself and your work in a variety of ways. You can use it on your website or blog, when you register on job boards, when you need to summarize your expertise for people introducing you at a speaking engagement, or to attach to the end of an article you’ve written.
Point #1 — A bio is not a resume
When writing a bio, remember the difference between bio and biography:
Bio = short
Biography = long
A good bio is short, because if it’s too long, people won’t read it.
Point #2 — Answer the 4Qs
Think of your professional bio as a little advertisement. Ideally, it will succinctly address the “4Qs” — the four questions that readers want answered in your professional bio:
- Who you are;
- What is your expertise;
- How does your expertise address their problem or goal; and
- How can they contact you
Point #3 — Do’s and Don’ts
- DO keep your professional bio as short as possible
- DO be selective; don’t list your entire professional background
- DON’T be bland; let your personality show
- DON’T include information that isn’t relevant to your audience
For example, here is the bio I submitted to the Muse Writer’s Conference for my writer’s workshop:
Sheri Gormley is the Director of Marketing & Promotions at Virtual Tales, a publisher of books and eBooks in a variety of genres. She has over 20 years experience writing executive biographies, press releases and coordinating corporate photo shoots, videos and portrait sessions at companies such as MTV Networks, Seiko Time and Fujitsu Microelectronics. Ms. Gormley is also the author of the Fantasy The Eye of Caer Weilen, which first appeared on the Keep it Coming e-serial website and is now available at Virtual Tales.
Notice what this bio tells you about me:
- It gives you my title and a brief statement of my qualifications to offer this workshop.
- It tells you that I am a fiction writer myself, so my experience is relevant to the writers who attend the Muse Writer’s Conference.
- It provides links to additional information about me, including my detailed professional resume, the publishing company I work for, and a link to my book’s website.
It does not tell you about my religion, my political beliefs, my educational history from kindergarten through university, my complete job history, my hair and eye color, my age, my hobbies, my pets, my family, etc., etc. That’s because none of this information is relevant to the intended audience (writers attending the Muse Writer’s Conference).
And yet, the seminar description and this brief bio was enough to convince many, many authors to sign up for the workshop each year I taught it.
The next article in this series will include a sample template you can use to craft your own author bio. I will also answer a question I hear all the time; namely, how can I write an author bio if I haven’t published anything yet?