Writing the Perfect Bio

Bootcamp is just around the corner, and I want to encourage everyone to start working on the most important thing you will ever write: your bio! I remember when I sent Cindy a devotion and she replied with a request for a bio and a j-peg. I had no idea what she was talking about. I have since learned at least enough lingo to know what those two are.

In today’s blog you will learn how to write the perfect bio, straight from Cindy’s class at the last Writers Advance! Bootcamp. For those of you who attended, you can find all of this information in the wonderful book they gave us of all¬†the handouts frome every class.

1. IDENTIFY YOUR PURPOSE
Your bio is the most important thing you will ever write. Do not take it lightly because a shoddily written, misplaced bio can break you.

Look at who will be reading your bio-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.

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 are tooting 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 sounds 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
(In editor’s terms-short, shorter, and shortest.)
Every writer needs three bios: Short (Friendly), Shorter (Professional), and Shortest (Working). 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 causal, yet concise. This is the elevator speech of sorts (25-100 words). Think of meeting someone for the first time and introducing yourself. A working bio needs your name, your status (ie: writer, speaker, etc.), and one or two things you’ve written (ie: writes for Time and Newsweek magazines). It also has your blog or web address 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, and your writing credits with sentence that are woven tightly together. Think smooth…the words that 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.

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 that 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 you 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 spaces, and wrong word usage.

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 newspaper.

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.

WORKING BIO
Jane Do is an author and speaker of the heart. She has 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 newspaper. 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 YOU WRITING CAREER.