Photo courtesy jorgensundberg.net

Assignment 1 – Picture Perfect Bio

Photo courtesy jorgensundberg.net

THE ASSIGNMENT: If you were a boot camp attendee last year, you’ve read through this assignment already. One year has passed and my hopes are you have learned, refined and reworked your bio over and over. 

As you know, Boot Camp offers its attendees a roster of all conferees. This will be the ONLY assignment you are given to turn in and I need it by January 15 if you are to be included in the roster. 

The Boot Camp Roster is a wonderful networking tool for you, plus it will come to you prior to your arrival at The Cove. This gives you the opportunity to see photos of your fellow soldiers. Glean through and get to know who they are, so when you arrive at The Cove, you know folks.

You will need to send your bio in a Word Doc or Docx file. (I cannot open Mac files so save them as a Word doc.) Also attach a .jpg as a SEPARATE file.  When you send your bio email it will have TWO attachments – the bio and the .jpg.

This will be your ONLY REPEAT assignment. Remember it must be emailed to me at mountainbreezeministries@gmail.com by February 2.

THE INFORMATION

Writing the perfect Bio - Cindy Sproles

1. IDENTIFY YOUR PURPOSE 

Bar none, your bio is the single most important thing you will ever write. Do not take it lightly. A shoddily-written, mis-placed bio can break you.

Look at who will be reading your bio. Is it moms reading a daily blog or business people, authors, publishers or agents? Think about those who are reading about you and nail down what you want them to instantly know about you and your work. We all would like to think editors and publishers care about how many dogs we have or how much we love to sail but the truth is, they don’t. They’re busy and their desks are piled high with work. They want CONCISE, to-the-point information. This is not to say editors and publishers are mean. They aren’t. But they are underpaid and overworked. Bear this in mind and cater to their needs.

Your bio is your FIRST IMPRESSION and just like that first impression sitting across from an agent or publisher, it has to be good. Keep your audience in mind as you write your bio and cater to the group you are submitting to.

2. ALWAYS WRITE A BIO IN 3rd PERSON

A bio is not a Dear John letter. It should be written as though someone else were describing you and your work. When you write from “I” (first person) it looks and sounds as though you’re blowing your own horn. It should be an objective view of the author. When you read through websites or inside book covers the bios are written in third person and it rings much more complimentary of the author. Look at the difference: “My name is Lisa Writer and I have published ten books on disabilities in children.” OR “Lisa is an author who has published ten books dealing with disabilities in children.”

3. FRIENDLY, WORKING AND PROFESSIONAL (or in editor’s terms, short, shorter and shortest)

Every writer needs three bios.

*Short (Friendly)
*Shorter (Professional)
*Working (Med. length, 25-100 words)

Each serves a different purpose. A friendly bio should be short….let me define short because to some it’s three pages of family and pet history. Short is a page (350 to 500 words). It’s relaxed, tells about your lifestyle and family, your likes and dislikes. You might use this bio on your blog or places that lend themselves to a freer environment.

Your working bio should be casual yet concise. This is the elevator speech of sorts. (25 to 100 words). Think of meeting someone for the first time and introducing yourself. A working bio needs your name, your status (ie writer, speaker etc). One or two things you’ve written (ie – writes for Time and Newsweek Magazines). It also has your blog or website listed.

The Professional Bio is longer and it should sum you up completely. As a rule of thumb, Working Bio is the shorter, Friendly Bio is your longest and the Professional Bio is somewhere in the middle. Usually two to three very concise, well-thought out, well-written paragraphs. It should show case your work, your teaching or speaking, your writing credits with sentences that are woven tightly together. Think smooth…roll off your tongue with ease.

4. NAME FIRST

Your first and last name are the first two words of any bio. This is your introduction. You don’t walk up to someone and say, I’m a writer. I have three children and two dogs. You introduce yourself, first and last name. Always first and last names—never just your first name.

5. Sell Yourself

Now you sell yourself. Give the person reading your bio your occupation and accomplishments. Like any good story, a reader needs a hook to keep reading so choose your words wisely. This doesn’t’ have to be over descriptive, but it does need to be worded nicely. The For example our bio might begin like this: Jane Doe is an author and speaker of the heart. She has penned two books dealing with disabilities and she has spoken for the Department of Special Needs in Schools. Jane is a contributing writer to Disability Status Magazine and she adds weekly columns to five nationally known newspapers.

6. Add personality

Depending on which bio and who you are writing it for, you can spice up your bio by adding something unexpected—perhaps a bit of humor or something you do that is unique…Jane can be found occasionally in her workshop carving birdhouses for the local Audubon Society. A twinge of personality, well-crafted tells a lot about the person.

7. Your Contact Information

Always finish off your bio with a way for folks to contact you. Add your website, email and if you can (in an email situation or web situation) add the hyperlink to your site

8. Write and Rewrite the Bio

I can’t urge you enough to hone this bio to perfection. It is your introduction so make it great. Make it perfect. Rule of thumb, get three other sets of eyes on your bio before you post it. Others will see anything awkward or out of sync. They’ll catch typos, extra space and wrong words spelled right.

Sample Bios

Friendly Bio
Jane Doe is an author and speaker of the heart. She has penned two books dealing with disabilities and she has spoken for the Department of Special Needs in Schools. Jane is a contributing writer to Disability Status Magazine and she adds weekly columns to five nationally known newspapers. Jane is married to Ross and together they have three children. She loves spending time in her woodworking shop where she builds and hand carves one-of-a-kind bird houses for the local Audubon Society.Her passion is working with disabled children, having one herself, she is able to relate, speak and address the ever changing needs of these kids.

Jane and her family live on a farm in southern Indiana where she calls two Yorkies and a Poodle her grandpuppies. Visit Jane at www.janeDoe.com or email her at jane.doe@goody.com

Conclusion

Your bio is getting more and more important and you should make sure it sells you and brings out your personal brand. I hope these tips and sample bios have been helpful, do let me know if you have any other thoughts and ideas on bios. Now that you have a great bio, remember to reach out to the right people and make sure they read it!

Working Bio
Jane Doe is an author and speaker of the heart. She has penned two books dealing with disabilities and she has spoken for the Department of Special Needs in Schools. Jane is a contributing writer to Disability Status Magazine and she adds weekly columns to five nationally known newspapers. Visit Jane at www.janeDoe.com or email her at jane.doe@goody.com

Professional Bio
Jane Doe is an author and speaker of the heart. She has penned two books dealing with disabilities and she has spoken for the Department of Special Needs in Schools. She is a contributing writer to Disability Status Magazine and she adds weekly columns to five nationally known newspapers. Jane is active in the Parents of Disabled Children, Parents In Need and Reach Up for Special Needs. She serves as a teacher at national conferences and as a personal mentor and life coach. Occasionally, Jane can be found carving hand-made bird houses for her local Audubon Society. Visit Jane at www.janeDoe.com or email her at jane.doe@goody.com

Now, take this Important information and revise, rewrite and rework the most important piece of work in your writing career.