Monday, February 1, 2016

The Importance of Your Author Bio


So you’ve never been published, huh? Or wait, you have been published, but not by one of the bigger houses that you’re aiming for. There are a few things that can help you put your best foot forward when creating that proposal that will get it in the door. Your foot, that is.

Remember: Your manuscript doesn’t stand alone when you’re trying to get the attention of an editor. Every segment of your proposal is, in effect, a writing sample. You need a compelling synopsis; an error-free few chapters; a platform and/or marketing plan. And don’t forget those all-important few paragraphs representing you as the author of this masterpiece you’d like them to contract.

An author bio that kicks … tushie! … is imperative. Think of it in the same terms as your synopsis – a compact little piece of brilliance that A) reflects the tone of your brand; B) illustrates an attractive, shiny portrayal of what you have to offer; and C) does all that in a very few well-chosen, inventive words that no one else could have put together in the same fashion.

Simple, right?

No? Well, maybe I can put on my managing editor’s hat and compile a few tips that will help.

1. Make yourself the hero/heroine of your own bio. Write in third person, present tense. This will help the editor step into (and stay in) the moment with you.

2. Make your opening count. In the same way that the first two pages of your novel have to shine if you want an editor to continue reading, your author bio needs a hook as well. State your name. Let him/her know exactly who you are, and follow that up with a few details about what makes you think they might want to read what you’ve written. No real publishing credentials? That’s okay. Maybe you’ve snagged an award, had your writing featured in a newsletter, or been a member of a prestigious writing organization for the last five years.

3. Spotlight your author voice. Who are you as a writer? Cast yourself in the role of Author and tell the editor who you are while in character … and while remaining clearly relatable.

4. Don’t give in to the temptation of rabbit trails. Remember that the key to a compelling author bio is brevity (100-200 words); just enough to leave them wanting more. Don’t dwell on any one aspect of presenting who you are. Should you mention accomplishments, academic qualifications, where you’ve lived all your life? Sure. But don’t write a dissertation on them.

5. Take aim at your target. It’s often a good idea to have two or three bios on hand, each a little different from the others so that they can be used for distinct purposes. For instance, one for editorial proposals; others for blog posts; another for press releases.

Ultimately, the author bio isn’t the be-all or end-all of kicking your foot into an open publishing door. As an editor, I’ve certainly rejected projects from authors with a killer bio! At the same time, a compelling kick-tushie bio has made me take a closer look every now and then. My advice to you: Give yourself every fighting chance to garner the professional attention of a person in the position to say, “Yes!” instead of, “Sorry, but…”

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SANDRA D. BRICKER was an entertainment publicist in Los Angeles for 15+ years where she attended school to learn screenwriting and eventually taught the craft for several semesters. When she put Hollywood in the rear view mirror and headed across the country to take care of her mom until she passed away, she traded her scripts for books, and a best-selling, award-winning author of Live-Out-Loud fiction for the inspirational market was born. Sandie is best known for her Another Emma Rae Creation and Jessie Stanton series for Abingdon Press, and she was also recently named ACFW’s Editor of the Year for her work as managing editor of Bling!, an edgy romance imprint for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. As an ovarian cancer survivor, Sandie also gears time and effort toward raising awareness and funds for research, diagnostics and a cure.