Every Writer Needs a Bio

Fall conference season is
here and writers everywhere are scrambling to get prepared. One thing many
neglect is a writer’s bio. Those who include it, often don’t give it the time and
thought it deserves.
Every writer needs a bio, whether or not you’re
attending a conference.
In truth, you need three.
  • A small one, 25-50 words.
  • A medium length one, approximately two paragraphs.
  • A full page one, in depth. 
Many times this written bio is the first
introduction someone in this business (think editor or event coordinator) or a
consumer (reader or attendee) will have of you. This, with your message, can
mean the difference between making the sale or not.
Your bio should reflect, through words, exactly who
you are. It must be relevant and it must reflect your personality, as well as
give you credibility.
Below are some of the instances where a
bio will be necessary.
  • Cover Letter (to an editor, agent or event
    coordinator).
  • Book Proposal.
  • Query Letter.
  • Your website.
  • Inside your book or on the jacket.
  • Publicity for a personal appearance. 
  • In a publication (web or print) after an article. 
It’s important to remember a bio isn’t a resume. It’s
not necessary to include information that isn’t relevant to what you’re
writing. For example, if you’re not writing about a salesperson, it isn’t
important to mention your job 15 years ago as an outside sales person. Again, think
relevant when you’re composing your bio.
Here are some
steps to help you write an engaging bio:
Step One—ask yourself a few questions.
  • What are
    some of my passions?
  • Why am I
    pursuing this craft of writing and/or speaking?
  • What value
    do I present my audience?
  • What are
    some of my strengths?
  • What
    impression do I leave with most people?
Don’t worry
about sounding like an egomaniac when you answer, no one but you will see your
rough draft. After answering those questions, try to come up with a
one-sentence statement about yourself. Use active verbs and vivid adjectives.
Step Two—more questions.
  • What is my
    experience in this field?
  • What
    experience(s) in other fields are relevant to this field?
  • What
    aspects of my personality give me credibility?
  • What
    study(s) give me credibility?
  • What life
    experience gives me credibility?
Now begin
to put the above information in chronological order. Basically what you are
doing is outlining God’s road map that got you to the point you are today.
Step Three—flesh it out.
Build a
word pool. From the questions above you’ll begin to see a trend. Use it. Amplify
it by trading on words that bring your essence to mind.

Step Four—wrap it up.

Put it all
together. It’s time to assemble the information you’ve gathered into your
full-page bio. If you’re having problems pulling it together, this is the time
to get some feedback from close friends.

Now that you have your full-page bio it’s time
to sift through it and boil it down, first reduce it two paragraphs (try to
keep it at no more than 200 words). Then cut it further to 25-50 words.

Writing a bio doesn’t have to be a reason for a nervous breakdown, take it step-by-step and you’ll have something to add value to your next meeting.

Edie Melson is a freelance writer and editor with years of experience in the publishing industry. She’s a prolific writer, and has a popular writing blog, The Write Conversation. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, as well as a popular faculty member at numerous others. She’s also the Social Media Coach at My Book Therapy.