Writing An Author Bio That Will Knock The Editor’s Socks Off!

By Dorothy Thompson

Never been published? Here are some suggestions on how to write that author’s bio that is sure to achieve success!

You have just finished your masterpiece and are about to send it off to that magical world, The Land Of The Publishing Industry. You have done your homework and have edited it with a fine-tooth comb. Now what?

You must prepare an author bio to knock the editor’s socks off. Your manuscript cannot stand alone. Along with an impressive cover letter and query, your manuscript must include an author bio. As an already established author, you have probably saved your bio in a file, updating it as you go. As an unpublished author, it is hard to know the exact way to go about doing this. I will show you the tricks of the trade to send off an impressive bio, even if you have never been published before.

Always Write In Third Person

To begin your bio, always remember to write in the third person. Many professional authors know that this is the correct way to write your bio. This makes it more presentable to the publisher. It also allows your readers to distance themselves and not be intimidated.

Your Opening Sentence

This is where you sell yourself to the editor. Your opening line is your introduction, the first thing the editor notices. This line can make you or break you. I start out by stating, “Dorothy Thompson is a freelancer, online journal editor, e-book author.” State your name and who you are. Never mention your personal life, just your professional titles. If you write, “Hi! I’m Jane Doe and a housewife from Minneapolis,” you are already looked upon as an unprofessional. No editor wants to hear this. They simply do not care.

No credentials? No problem. There are ways for even a first-time writer to wing it. Let’s say you have written a poem about your dog that perhaps saved a drowning boy’s life. First of all, you are already a freelancer because you are sending this article to a publisher. Second, you are a poet because this is a poem. Now, you can say, “Jane Doe is a freelance writer and poet.” Sounds better, doesn’t it?

Join Writing Or Critique Groups

Are you a member of a writing group, online or otherwise? If not, join today! This is very important for a first-time writer with no bylines. An editor will take notice if you are a member of a writing or critique group as this tells them you have an interest in perfecting your craft. There are several places online to find a writing group. One good place to look is Yahoo!. Go to Yahoo Groups at http://www.groups.yahoo.com and look for Entertainment & Arts. Look under “books,” then “Writing.” Peruse the groups, as there are over a thousand groups listed here. Join as many as you want. Be careful about the amount of groups you sign up for, for it will take up much of your email space.

Writing Organizations

Another plus in an editor’s eyes is your affiliation with writers’ organizations. Where to find them? One way is to go to one of your writer’s groups and ask. Many writers in these groups are already associated with several organizations and they can give you advice on which ones to join. Another way to find out is to put “writer organizations” in search. I went to Yahoo and put “writer organizations” in the search box, and this is what I found: at the time of this writing, Yahoo included 23 categories and 298 websites for writer organizations. They included:

Most have yearly fees, so be prepared for that. This should not defray you. One particular writers’ organization I know is so well respected by editors and publishers that having that in your bio is almost all you need for an instant passport to publication.


As an unpublished author, you have to always remember that you are your own product. You have to sell yourself. By following the above suggestions, I can guarantee you will come up with an author bio that will knock the editor’s socks off and increase your chances of becoming a published author.

Dorothy Thompson 2001

Dorothy Thompson is a freelance writer, children’s ebook author, and editor of The Writer’s Life. She writes for many online publications, as well as AuthorsDen and Stories.com. Her children’s ebook, No More Gooseberry Pie! is published by Writers-Exchange E-Publishing. Her latest project is a soul mate anthology she is compiling that will be published next year.

Review: You Can Market Your Book: All the Tools You Need to Sell Your Published Book

Review by Betty Winslow

You Can Market Your Book: All the Tools You Need to Sell Your Published Book
By Carmen Leal
ACW Press
250 pages
Amazon.com price: $10.50

If there were an election for the position of Queen of Book Promotion, Carmen Leal would win it, hands down. Her latest book, You Can Market Your Book: All the Tools You Need to Sell Your Published Book, is chock full of ideas she and others have used to generate a buzz about their books, self-published or published through a royalty publisher. “Through a royalty publisher?” you ask? Yep. Even going that route doesn’t mean you can sit back on your laurels and let the publishing house do all the work—unless you don’t care if your book sells or not. You do, don’t you? Ms. Leal says, “Make sure that you understand the 80/20 rule: Writing takes only 20 percent of your effort, marketing and promotion takes up the other 80 percent.”

You Can Market Your Book will show you many ways to make good use of the 80 percent. With it in hand, you can pull off all kinds of marketing: press kits, book signings, on-camera interviews, giveaways, public speaking, and more. The book is divided into four sections, Project and Site Preparation, Choosing the Right Tools and Materials, Finding the Right Subcontractors, and Executing Your Plan, and it has a detailed table of contents, making it easy to find the section you want to concentrate on next.

She doesn’t use only her own ideas, either. She also presents ideas that have been used by other successful authors, as well as articles on various promotion topics by over a dozen other professionals. No matter how much you know about promoting a book, I’d be surprised if you weren’t able to learn at least a few new angles by the end of the book. One interesting side note: Be sure to notice how she uses quotations (a particular passion of hers) and dialogue from the movie Lilies of the Field to illustrate various points.

To add to the book’s value, Ms. Leal has included at the end of each chapter a list of authors and resources featured in that particular section, to make finding them again easier. She also offers the URL to a companion web site that features every link in the book and a tip archive as well as several worksheets and forms that can be printed out for use by her readers. In the very back of the book is a list of recommended books that Leal considers to be valuable. (I already own or have read several of them and I’ll be investigating the rest.)

If you plan on writing a book and you want it to sell, You Can Market Your Book should be #1 on your shopping list.

Betty Winslow is the author of The Lady and the Lawman.

The Business-Savvy Writer

By Jodi Brandon

For most of the year, I think of myself as a writer. As I calculate my estimated tax payments and meet with my accountant, though, I am reminded that what I really am is a businesswoman. Most writers, I assume, are like me: more interested in—not to mention better at—the craft of writing (the creative aspect) yet forced to tackle the business elements of writing (namely, marketing, promotion, and advertising; growing your business; and taxes). Writing is, after all, a business. As is the case in any industry, the competition is stiff. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent (February 2001) findings show that about 9.4 percent of all American workers are either self-employed, temporary, or contract workers. In other words, there are quite a few of us out there vying for the freelance jobs that are available. All the more reason to be business-savvy about your writing career.

Marketing, Promotion, and Advertising

Sales are generated by marketing plans, promotion efforts, and advertising campaigns. Writers can’t think of these tasks as belonging exclusively to their publisher. Doing so hurts you where it counts: your royalty statement. You must consider your own marketing and promotion initiative. Ideally, your publisher would handle your project’s publicity efforts completely and effectively. Realistically, however, only a handful of books (think those of James Patterson, Anne Rice, and John Grisham, books that would probably sell themselves off the shelves anyway’go figure) are given the money for full-scale, knock ’em dead initiatives. Take what you can get from your publisher and supplement it as best you can. If you aren’t in a financial position to send yourself on a first-class, nationwide media tour, then consider a radio tour, which you can do from your home. (And remember that you can likely write off much of the expenses you accrue while promoting your work.)

Articles (and other shorter works) are a different story. Media tours, book signings, and such aren’t things you’ll be exposed to, but that doesn’t mean that marketing and promotion aren’t important to the work you do. You’ll likely be handling the work yourself (unless you outsource it yourself, that is). Send a press release to writing e-zines and magazines, which often list articles, books, etc. recently published. Use the clip as a way to promote you and your writing ability. (Better yet, use that clip to generate a new sale by way of a reprint.)

No matter what type of writer you are, your work warrants publicity’whether it’s generated by you or someone else. If it falls on your shoulders, then consider it a learning experience. Think of the media contacts you’ll make, the people you’ll meet, and the exposure your work will receive. That exposure will leave your readers waiting for your next piece of work, so the business side of your writing life really is important, isn’t it?

Growing Your Business

No writer is happy with the status quo. We’re constantly generating new ideas. Those ideas morph themselves into new markets. As a businessperson, think of those markets as potential clients. Put another way, then, writers are always looking for new clients to grow their business.

Growing and expanding a writing business is different from other types of businesses. You need to balance the creative aspect with the practical aspect. You need to take care of the tasks you’re already doing (sending out queries, attending workshops and conferences, researching markets, etc.) as well as some tasks that don’t seem all that appropriate to you as a writer at first glance. For example, join your local chamber of commerce or small-business association. You might not have much to say to these more “traditional” businesspeople at first, but you’ll soon find that you face many of the same challenges they do. Awkward? Perhaps. Anyone who’s ever moved knows how it feels to be the new kid in school, but you also know that the feeling passes. The same is true here. An added bonus is that you might get some clients that you never even knew existed from the contacts you make through business associations and organizations.


Taxes are, without a doubt, the thorn in every writer’s side. They don’t have to be. (I swear!) If you don’t feel like or think of yourself as a businessperson, tax season will surely change your viewpoint. I try to look at the bright side: The more taxes I’m paying, the more I must be making, right? I realize it’s a small consolation, but it’s all I’ve got. Here are a few tips to tame the tax beast.

  • Get a good accountant. The money he or she will charge you is worth it. I don’t know about you, but I’ve got much more important things to keep track of than tax law—let alone the tax law changes each year. Not only that, he or she knows what you can and cannot deduct, what will and will not raise the IRS’s eyebrow, and so on. Try to find someone who specializes in or works regularly with freelancers (freelance writers in particular, if you can find someone).
  • Keep your receipts—all of them, from all year. As I just noted, your trusty accountant will tell you what you and cannot deduct, and the more backup you have for anything you do deduct, the safer you’ll be. After a couple years, you’ll get the hang of it. There are still occasions when my accountant surprises me with something that’s deductible, and I’m always happy to have the receipt. You can deduct just about anything—as long as you can prove that it’s “ordinary” and “necessary” to your business. These are the IRS’s key words here.
  • If you’re going to take a home-office deduction, make sure you read IRS publication #587 (Business Use of Your Home) to find out what the IRS allows and what it doesn’t. This deduction often raises a red flag in the eyes of the IRS, so it’s best to be as careful as possible.
  • Take the deductions you’re allowed to. Your accountant (if he or she is a good one) will ask you for receipts for such expenses as dues for trade organizations (such as the Society of Professional Journalists or the National Writers Union), business cards and stationery, conference expenses (registration, plane ticket, transportation while in Chicago, hotel, and meals). In my first year as a freelancer, I had no idea I could deduct a trip I took to Chicago for an editing class. I ended up missing out a hefty deduction because I hadn’t done my homework. It never occurred to me, as a new writer, that I even had expenses. That sounds silly now, but what did I know at age 23, having never even done my own taxes before? I simply handed the paperwork to my mom in previous years, and the form came back with a note for me to sign and mail it.

* * *

All of the ideas covered here are important to your writing business. Keeping the business in order enables us to do what we love best: write.

In her role as president of JBedit, Jodi Brandon has edited and/or contributed to a number of high-profile book projects, including The Barnes & Noble Guide to Children’s Books (3rd Edition), The Buzz on Beer anthology, the Frommer’s Irreverent Guide travel series, The 50 Best (and Worst) Business Deals of All Time, and Copyright Plain & Simple. In addition to her editing responsibilities, she has also completed a number of writing projects on behalf of national and regional clients, including Arcadia Publishing, Inc., Amateur Chef magazine, The Newark Star-Ledger, Bride’s Guide magazine, Lebhar-Friedman Books, The Pathway School, and TheOddSpot.com. You can find her at JodiBrandon.com

SOPA on hold, PROTECT IP still pending – An Open Letter

I’m a registered Democrat. I vote, I canvass, I caucus. As a Website owner and as an American, I’m dismayed by Congressional attempts to censor the internet. I’m appalled and chilled that we have a former Senator who publicly asserts that the U.S. should take a lesson from China to establish internet censorship and stifle the free exchange of information.

censorship graphicThe House just acknowledged “legitimate concerns” about SOPA — its version of the PROTECT IP Act (pdf link) — and backed away from a vote that looked certain to occur. The Senate needs to do the same: PROTECT IP will kill jobs and innovation, undermine cyber security, censor the Internet, and provide ready justification to foreign regimes that want to crack down on dissent and political reform.

PROTECT IP won’t catch or punish internet pirates. They’ll simply move shop, work on darknets, or code workarounds. Online piracy won’t even slow as a result of this legislation. Legitimate sites, however, DO have a great deal of reason to worry.

It should be instructive that Universal Music incorrectly and abusively used the DMCA take-down process to stifle and censor content they did not own, just recently.

As flawed as the DMCA is, there IS recourse built into the process for site-owners who are improperly censored and/or interrupted by competitors who abuse the legal process.

I direct your attention to a December 8th, 2011 article in Techdirt:

The US government has effectively admitted that it totally screwed up and falsely seized & censored a non-infringing domain of a popular blog, having falsely claimed that it was taking part in criminal copyright infringement. Then, after trying to hide behind a totally secretive court process with absolutely no due process whatsoever (in fact, not even serving papers on the lawyer for the site or providing timely notifications — or providing any documents at all), for over a year, the government has finally realized it couldn’t hide any more and has given up, and returned the domain name to its original owner. If you ever wanted to understand why ICE’s domain seizures violate the law — and why SOPA and PROTECT IP are almost certainly unconstitutional — look no further than what happened in this case.

PROTECT IP and SOPA would both make these sorts of abuses devastatingly likely, remove the fragile existing protections for independent Websites and small Internet businesses, while doing nothing to effectively prevent piracy.

Harry Reid and Patrick Leahy: Don’t bring this bill up for a floor vote.

To my Senators: Please vote NO if the bill reaches the floor.

(Some text remixed from original letter here.)

Please feel free to remix and reuse this post to contact your own Senators. No attribution necessary.

A few August 31 Fiction Deadlines

Hadley Rille Books: A Quiet Shelter There is an upcoming anthology of speculative fiction about service or companion animals. The deadline is August 31, and the pay is $10 for a story or $5 for a poem, all USD. The minimum word count for fiction is 1000 words; the maximum is 4000. That makes the payrate for fiction between 1 cent per word and .0025 cents per word (or 1/4 of a penny per word). Submission guidelines!
Editor Gerri Leen has some “Quirks” and suggests that writers check out her blog.

I Like a Little Science in My Fiction” is also slated to close on August 31. First place gets 5 cents per word, second place gets 3 cents per word, and third place gets 1 cent per word. Stories must be based on a recent scientific innovation or discovery (which must be cited!) and be set off of earth. Check out the guidelines.

RymFire eBooks wants 2,500-7,500 word stories (these sound like firm limits from what I’ve read) for their State of Horror: California anthology. As you can imagine, they want horror stories set in California. The editors were interviewed at duotrope if you want more insight into what they publish. They’re only paying $3 per story, but there’s an interesting twist. Every time they sell 150 eBooks, the authors get an additional $3. They’re publishing a print version as well, and they count print sales as three eBook sales for the purposes of reaching the $3 goal. Submission Guidelines. Their website is under construction.

Oncoming Contest Deadlines, Fee-Free Edition

Redstone Science Fiction’s “Identity Crisis” contest is accepting submissions until August 15. There’s no entry fee, and winners get 5 cents per word (4,000 word maximum). The contest’s prompt is an essay titled “Identity Crisis: Who Are We, If We Can Choose Who We Are?” which, along with the publication’s submission guidelines, can be found on the contest page at http://redstonesciencefiction.com/identity-crisis-contest/.

Filament Magazine’s erotic fiction contest closes to submissions on July 31. Filament Magazine is an adult publication, so consider this before following any of the links in this paragraph at work. The theme is “Music,” first prize is £100, there’s no entry fee, and they accept electronic entries. The editors have a few requests of entrants, so make sure read the guidelines (PDF file: http://www.filamentmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/fictionguidelines.pdf) and the contest page (http://www.filamentmagazine.com/2011/05/fiction-contest-for-issue-9-theme-music/) closely.

PoeticPower has an essay and poetry contest winding to a close on August 16. The contest is open to students between grades 3-12. There’s no entry fee, and winners get a $50 savings bond. Both contests’ guidelines are highlighted on the PoeticPower index page. Full disclosure: I thought that their website looked skeevy, but Winning Writers says “We are satisfied that this contest is not a scam.” PoeticPower has something close to a 45% acceptance rate, which is strange for normal contests, but since PoeticPower’s goal has more to do with building self-esteem in children than creating literary masterworks, I think that the contest has quite a bit of value.

If you just need more time, SPS Studios‘ 19th Bi-Annual Poetry Card Contest closes December 31st. No entry fee; first prize is $300. The editors say they’ll accept rhyming poetry, but that they think non-rhyming sounds better. Their submission guidelines and entry form can be found at http://www.sps.com/poetry/index.html.

Soaps.com Looking for a Substitute Recap Writer

Hey, AWers – I just received an email from Christine Fix, the Editor-in-Chief at Soaps.com:

Substitute Recap Writer:

Soaps.com is seeking a strong writer who resides in Ontario Canada to write “day ahead” recaps for the following soap operas: “Young and The Restless” and “Days Of Our Lives.”

The candidate will be open to receiving emails and or calls to substitute for the regular writers without much advance warning.

The candidate must have a fast internet connection, be able to type at least 40 wpm, be able to recap the episode, proof and post on the website within an hour and a half of the start of the episode. Having a screen capture card will be an asset to you.

The episode recap should be no more than 800 words and be in the same format used by the website.
The pay is $25.

Applicants can contact Christine Fix at contact – at – soaps.com with a resume and four writing samples.

If you’re an Ontario writer with a love of soaps, this just might be for you!

Independent Anthologies that Want YOUR Writing!

I’ve noticed a lot of indie anthologies popping up lately, and since three of them ended up in the Water Cooler‘s Paying Markets forum, I thought I’d share a few leads here that never found their way into our forum’s warm, loving arms.

But first, one of the three that posted on the forums still has plenty of time before its deadline. For the dark fantasy and horror writers out there, consider putting something together for Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations, edited by Eric J. Guignard. Writing guidelines, what he wants and doesn’t, contact information, and updates can be found at http://ericjguignard.blogspot.com/
1 cent per word payment.

The anthology titled Cat’s New Eye Bella is looking for, wait for it, Spec Fic stories about cats. Their guidelines mention that they want humor twice, so consider sticking some lol on any cats you might lob in their direction. More information here: http://darkwineandstars.blogspot.com/search/label/Anthologies%20Paid%20Info
1 cent per word payment.

My personal favorite (because I’m studying Chinese, I suspect) is a yet-untitled Wuxia anthology, which is a labor of love-type project meant to generate familiarity with Chinese Wuxia, a word that roughly means “hero” or “knight.” As a genre, Wuxia refers to stories that are a bit like crossing the much-romanticized U.S. Old West with Chinese sword fighting and martial arts. The editor, John Dishon, has a much better explanation of the genre here: http://wuxia.genreverse.com/what-is-wuxia/.

From his submission guidelines:

If your story is a borderline case, or you’re not quite sure if it’s wuxia, then send it in anyway. The worst that can happen is it gets rejected.

The guidelines exist over at http://wuxia.genreverse.com/submissions/ and payment is set to range between 1 cent per word and 5 cents per word. If you’ve never even heard of Wuxia, this is a fantastic opportunity (and dare I say motivation?) to learn about a new genre.

Absolutely write hard, write true, and write on!


Interview: Deidre Knight of The Knight Agency, Inc.

Spotlight on Deidre Knight
Interview by Christina Hamlett

Name: Deidre Knight

Title: Agent

Agency: The Knight Agency

Address: P.O. Box 550648, Atlanta, GA 30355

How long have you been an agent?

I began agenting nearly seven years ago, in the spring of 1996.  My husband, Judson Knight, has been a silent partner since that time, and in 2003 will join our staff full-time as business manager. Our staff also includes administrative assistant Lisa Payne, hired in 1999, and agent Pamela Harty, who joined us in 2000.

What attracted you to the business of representing writers? 

I have always had a talent for selling, an interest in books, and a sense of what works in a story. Agenting gave me an opportunity to combine all three.

What categories are you the most excited about selling these days?

Romance and women’s fiction remain key areas of interest for the Knight Agency, and we are always in search of quality literary fiction. In nonfiction, we are interested in business, self-help, pop culture, travel, health, inspirational/religious, and reference books.

How does an author become a prospective client of your agency?

We usually recommend that a prospective client visit us at our Web page (http://www.knightagency.net), learn a little about the agency, then query us via e-mail. Snail-mail queries are also welcome. Romance writers interested in representation are encouraged to attend major national conventions, such as Romance Writers of America in the summer, as a means of meeting agents working in that genre.

Conversely, what really turns you off?

Prospective clients who query or submit manuscripts by means other than the ones that are recommended either by our agency or by authorities on the business in general. Whereas e-mail and regular mail queries are welcome, phone calls are not. If someone becomes our client, we will probably talk regularly on the phone, but until then, we are simply not equipped to handle phone queries. If we request a sample or manuscript, we expect to see something that looks professional, as per Writer’s Market, Jeff Herman’s Writer’s Guide, or a similarly authoritative guide. Keep in mind that, with thousands of writers for every agent, the agent must pick and choose authors with whom he or she will work, so it pays to be polite and considerate.

Do you charge fees?  If so, what do they cover and are they charged up front or as reimbursements after the sale?

The Knight Agency does not charge a reading fee, nor do we charge for basic expenses such as copies and general mailing expenses.

How many titles have you sold in the past year? 


What is your commission? 

Fifteen percent on domestic sales, and 20-25% on foreign and film rights sales if a sub-agent is employed.

What percentage of manuscripts do you reject and what is the most common reason for that rejection?

Sadly—and this is true of virtually all literary agencies—we reject more than 99% of the manuscripts we see. The most common reason for this, in the case of fiction, is that a novel simply lacks that “something special” that would make it a standout in the marketplace. Many times, we review books that are perfectly good, yet fail to grab the reader, and we are forced to say “No.” In the case of nonfiction, rejection is likely to be for reasons that include the following: the market is too broadly defined, the market is too narrowly defined, or the author lacks credentials that would give him or her the “platform” sufficient to make the book a success.

If you could have lunch with any author (living or dead), who would it be and what would you most like to ask them?

Ernest Hemingway—in a sober moment, pre-World War II. I would ask him how he finds the courage to let go of all those extraneous details that writers love to hold on to but should leave on the cutting-room floor.

What would you say is the most important contribution you make to your clients’ careers? 

I see my role not as simply that of selling manuscripts to the publisher, which is only the beginning of a process; rather, I help the author plan an entire career. An active writer needs an agent who will serve as an advocate at all stages of the sale, and who will help him or her gain additional benefits in the form of foreign sales and so on. My job is to assist the writer in developing a recognizable “brand name” (or several brand names); therefore, rather than focus on the current book or the next one, I help the author create a strategy for an entire body of work.

Best words of advice to new writers? 

Just keep writing. History is full of stories about classics that were rejected over and over and over by publishers. All too often, writers—and this is especially true in this era of instantaneous everything—want it all now, and that’s not usually how it works. If you’re a female Olympic gymnast, then yes, it’s likely that you would need to achieve something within a certain age window, but for writers, no such restriction exists. If anything, age can improve an author’s work, and it usually does. Be patient with your work, and give it the respect it deserves; don’t just throw something out there. In fact, if you want something that will give you instant reward (other than the rewards inherent in writing itself), then writing isn’t for you. The process of taking a book from manuscript to published work takes a long time, so why shouldn’t it be the same for taking the book from idea to completed manuscript?