Mine was—until I took a workshop from social media guru Kristen Lamb, author of We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. She taught my fellow workshop participants and me how to make our bios lots more fun.
I think of it as taking a plain vanilla bio and turning it into a delicious sundae with plenty of yummy toppings. Here’s how. . .
Kristen gave us 3 great tips, which I’m paraphrasing.
1. Remember who we are.
We’re writers. She said that all too often when we novelists draft a bio we seem to forget that we’re fiction writers. We’re used to making up cool stories that captivate readers, but when we approach our bios we go all factual and miss out on the fun.
2. Remember who our readers are.
Who reads our books? Drum roll please. Readers!
Yes, readers read our books, but our bios often sound like little more than a recitation of our writerly accomplishments. Sure, I’m a member of RWA® and its FH&L, TGN, and SVR chapters along with being a member of ACFW, but what reader cares about that? Do they even know what the acronyms stand for? Are they all that interested in the fact that I finaled in the GH and won the STAR, Maggie, Emily, etc? I doubt it. And if we’re honest, do they really care that much about my family?
Nope. They want to know one thing. Can I tell an interesting story?
Kristen said we can include the writer-related facts and a little about our families, but she suggested putting that type of information at the end of the bio and keeping the beginning fun for the reader.
3. Remember that our job is to market ourselves.
If we want to reach readers, we need to give them what they want: good stories. We do that by keeping our bios fun, showing readers what types of stories we write, and giving them a taste of our voices.
Our bios are our opportunities to sell ourselves as writers of stories readers want to read.
My publisher asked me for a bio, which will appear on the back cover of my debut novel. I sent it to the lovely editorial assistant I’m working with at Barbour, Linda Hang. I’d worked on it for days, tweaking it until every word was right.
And then I took Kristen’s course.
After learning the tips above, I got really brave and read the bio I’d sent to Linda. Guess what? It was Boring with a capital B. Since I’m being honest here, I’ll tell you that I lifted portions of it directly from my query letter. Talk about plain. It was diet vanilla ice cream.
I applied the tips Kristen taught in the workshop and came up with a bio that has more pizzazz, is geared toward readers, and is no longer filled with a litany of my writerly affiliations and educational mumbo jumbo.
Since I’m a fan of show, don’t tell, I’ll let you see the before and after. And although I’m sure you could improve upon my “after,” it does represent me and my voice. I’m not exactly a sundae person in real life. I’m more of a chocolate chip ice cream drenched in Hershey’s® syrup kinda gal.
Before, with editorial notes included:
Award-winning novelist Keli Gwyn is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America®. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication/Print Journalism. [Are you yawning yet?] A California native, she lives in a historic Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains. She enjoys her frequent time travels to the 1800s, where she spends countless hours with her characters while fueling her creativity with Taco Bell® and sweet tea. [Better, but why put the more interesting stuff at the end?]
After, with editorial notes following:
Award-winning novelist Keli Gwyn is a California native who lives in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains. Her stories transport readers to the 1800s, where she brings historic towns to life, peoples them with colorful characters, and adds a hint of humor. She fuels her creativity with Taco Bell® and sweet tea. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two skitty kitties.
Notes: Since my debut novel is set in California in the heart of the Gold Country, I chose to include facts intended to show the reader that I’m someone they can trust to know the area. I mentioned the kind of stories I write. I added a touch of humor since that element is in my stories. I did mention my family briefly but included a fun description of our cats.
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What are some fun facts about yourself that you could include in your bio?