Anyways, I've been trolling through the interwebs for information on how everyone else approaches bios. The advice is pretty consistent.
- Write in your voice, not your genre. I write fantasy but my author bio isn't going to include references to dragons and other mythical creatures. Or will it? Hmmm. Hell, maybe it will. That might be fun.
- Give information that is endearing. Talk about your life, your pets/family, where you live, your habits, etc. For some reason, people like to know these things. I think it makes you seem more human, less of an untouchable being. Or maybe I'm the only one that looks at my favorite authors *cough* *Garth Nix* *cough* as if they came from another planet made of Awesome!
- Include your contact information. This seems fairly simple. And yet, it can get complicated. For me, I have my blog, my often unused Twitter, and my very unused Facebook. What about the writers that have it all, Google+, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Shelfari, multiple blogs, *ack* MySpace, etc. etc. etc.? Where does all of that fit in? Do you include your email? I have, but some people may not. I think there comes a point when you have to be limiting. Maybe include the few that you use the most or that are the most important... a website and blog I think would be the most important.
- Be funny. Or if you can't be funny (read: trying too hard), be creative. You are a writer so write like you know what you are doing. At the very least, fake like you know what you are doing. Even if you are being carted into this new digital writing era kicking and screaming, you are already here so you might as well get used to it. Your author bio is just another way to brand yourself. Use your writing voice but make it interesting to read!
- Include important information. Like your agent/publisher if you have one. The title of your debut or most current published or soon to be published work. Big contest or award wins. Affiliations. Yes, some people could care less about this (that would be me) but others (like agents and publishers) want to know this stuff. I've learned that many readers want to know this stuff too, even if I am not one of them.
- Have different versions of your bio for different purposes. Query bios should be in first person, always. Others can be in first person or third person, depending on who you talk to on any given day. Query bios should be short and sweet (Keep It Simple Stupid: KISS), no more than two sentences usually. Social media bios can be a bit longer but keep in mind character limitations. They are typically 200-250 word limits. Your blog/website can be as long as you want, so long as you remember that many people have short attention spans and a 5,000 word bio is going to end up being boring for most. The bio at the end of your book should probably stick to less than 400 words. There isn't much room after you add a picture for a long monologue about your brother's dog and the neighbor's garden and the mailman's backfiring exhaust. Use your best judgement for each.
- Stay up to date. Nothing irritates me more than coming across a writer that has his debut novel listed in his bio and then going to his published works page to find he has had two more titles come out since the debut. It makes me feel like the author doesn't pay attention to/have time for details (which is IMO likely reflected in his works). It is okay to update your bio. Just like most of us do not look like our senior pictures from high school, things change as time goes on. Not that you should have a new author picture every time you get a haircut. I'm talking about the big stuff. Keep everyone updated when major things like upcoming titles change.
The following links were some of the best posts I read about author bios since I got my computer running. Yes, I'm that much of a research fanatic. I got a shiny new toy and I immediately started working on fixing stuff I worked on while I was offline.
How To Write a Terrific Author Bio, Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent for Books and Such Literary Agency
What Does Your Author Bio Say About You, Jami Gold, Author
3 Ways to Add Pizzazz to Your Author Bio, Keli Gwyn, Author
The Author Bio: 6 Important Components, Roni Loren, Author
So I am back to the drawing board on my author bio. Not that I am in a huge rush or anything, considering I have to get my file off my freaking hard drive. All in good time right? When I get mine finished, I'll post my query, social media, and full bio versions for comments and suggestions.
Do you have anything to add to writing author bios? Post it in the comments below. I'll share what I have found about author pictures soon. Stay tuned.