Wednesday 17 July 2013

Author bios

I have talked about this before though I mean something a little different this time. Last time I was talking about the bio that authors send with submissions. That type of bio gives us some insight into the authors. Are they already published? How experienced are they in the world?  What are they like as people? The bio I’m talking about here is for the reader.
Tight writing
The bio must be as well written as the rest of the piece. Certainly it should be written tightly and shouldn’t be too expansive.
In proportion
As a reader and as a publisher I get irritated when I read a 250 word piece of flash fiction accompanied by a 100 bio. A Tweet-sized bio might be more appropriate.
What the publisher asks for
As always provide exactly what has been asked for. If the word limit is 50, don’t write 100. 55 or 45 might be all right.
What to write
Try to give the essence of who you are as a writer and the specifics of why you have written this particular text.
These often make me cringe except, perhaps, when a humorous book is produced. It almost seems as if the writer doesn’t have enough to say about themselves.
New Writers
These writers may not have a glamorous list of publications and awards. However, they can still give some insight into their writing lives. This may be to do with how, why and where they write and how they came to write this particular piece.
Other places for biographical data
Longer bios are often included in books and that is fine. One reads them when one has the time and at that point they are always inserting.
Interviews and blogs can supply more detail. Jokes are fine here – as long as they don’t take up too much of the text.
Piers Anthony, in his Incarnations of Immortality series, always included the sort of text that most writers these days would put on a blog. He gives an account of what happened as he wrote the story and of his creative process.

I’m concerned about all of this, I suppose, because currently I’m ploughing through just under 800 author bios for an article I’m writing. Those bios are there to give readers a quick insight into an author they might read. Most of them are very well written. A few are extremely irritating.
I do enjoy reading the longer extracts of biographical information such as those mentioned above. I’m always curious about writing process and about what makes a writer. However, I prefer to read these when I have time.  At other times I just want a quick snapshot of the author and a confirmation of their credentials.