Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Bio Hazards

One of the things people ask of a newly published author is to provide a bio. This seems so simple and easy, but alas it is not. First off there are many different types and sizes of bios. (Did you know that?) And no one actually tells you what size or type of bio they want—they just say “send me your bio.”

Now as an unpublished author with little to no publishing experience, I thought a bio was what I usually find at the back of a book beneath the author photo: “Brooke Taylor lives and writes from her home in the Midwest, where her many pets are a contestant but happy distraction.” Or my ex-boss from the cruise ship days would have (if he ever wrote that book he claimed to always be writing): “No wife, no kids, no pets, no plants.”

So anyway, in the midst of editor interest on my MS, my agent requested a bio. I asked her how long she wanted it and she said—just send me everything and I’ll cut it down if I need to.

So, my newbie mind went to those long rambling bios I’d seen on many an author’s website. You know the ones--they start from birth and don’t leave out a single year. These are even more amusing because they read like an unofficial biography because of the 3rd person.

***caution abrupt POV shift coming***

Brooke Taylor finds it quite humorous to write about herself in the 3rd person.

***Returning to regular POV programming***

I sent her one going on and on about the exciting adventures I've had in my life, blah blah. She wrote back "This won’t do, it's like you live in a void."


I was shocked. Confused. Angry. I most certainly did not live in a void! She went on to explain (while I caught my breath and took the needles out of the voodoo doll) that I needed to show my ties to the publishing industry (I’m paraphrasing here, and probably getting it wrong—but this is what I took from her comments). See, the job of the bio she needed was to let the publisher know I was a serious writer. I mean sure, it is neat that I've jumped out of an airplane over New Zealand:

But it would be neater if I did it with Michael L. Printz Winner John Green. (In the interest of full disclosure, I was going to say J.K. Rowling—but every author and his sister are doing the Harry Potter reference.)

Anyway, enough about Brooke Taylor—check out Teri Brown’s spoof on the bio and re-write Jill Monroe’s bio and win cool prizes!


Heather Harper said...

Writing a bio sounds like so much fun. ;) Good luck with that.

(Does stalking agents and Nora Roberts at Nats count as ties to the publishing industry?)

Erma said...

Well written article.