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September
12-14-2011, 01:11 AM
What's the best way to formulate a brief author bio? Particularly if you are thinking about submitting short stories? What information should be in there and what is unnecessary? I'm trying to write one and can't think of a thing to say. I'm boring. I'm a college student and have never been published before. How did you all come up with your bios?

Maryn
12-14-2011, 02:24 AM
I totally angsted over my first one, too, but later developed a far more breezy attitude about them.

First, I think of what the readers of the publication that will use the bio might want to know. I'd write something different for a horror magazine than a Christian one. (Smart, huh?)

Consider something basic like September is the pen name of a full-time student at a Midwestern university. During breaks, she returns to her family home in Michigan, spending time with her parents, two siblings, and Gladys, a golden retriever. This is her first published story.

I'm always careful not to give information which could identify me well enough for someone deranged to find me. Others are not so paranoid.

Maryn, glad to meet you

Polenth
12-14-2011, 07:17 AM
If you mean the bio that goes on the end of a published story, only include it if they specifically ask for it in the submission guidelines. Most places will ask for it after you're accepted. You're aiming for 2-3 sentences, unless told otherwise. Start with your full name and use third person. Other than that, anything goes... some bios are plainer and some more creative. It doesn't really matter what you say.

I always look over the bios at a place, to get a feel for whether they want a plainer one or not. Sometimes, I'll write a bio for a specific story (I did for Nature, as they also have a much shorter bio limit).

A common format is on the lines of: *name* lives in *place* with *family and/or pets*. S/he has a website at *address*.

Or if you have credits, adding the line: S/he has been published in *Magazine1*, *Magazine2* and *Magazine3*.

Which may or may not be interesting, depending on who you are (my cockroaches get a lot of comment, as it's an unusual pet... a cat and a dog, less so). But you aren't going to be rejected based on whether you bio is interesting or not, so don't beat yourself up if you don't have anything unusual to say.

The Lonely One
12-14-2011, 07:28 AM
Third person, short, memorable. Even memorable is give or take. I'd rather someone remember the story than bother reading the bio.

Also make sure it adheres to any specific guidelines (length, content).

Lonely One lives and writes in the Holy Land with his band of brothers and Jack Russell Terrier, Skip. He has published short fiction in several journals such as The Desert Sucks Raw Eggs and Vogue. He's also jealous of Polenth's Nature credit.

lastlittlebird
12-14-2011, 12:31 PM
Don't forget to add your blog, if you have one.
I still get visits to my blog from a website that published my story at least six months ago.

One of my friends who had to read slush for a magazine told me he estimated around 50% of people made a joke about their cat/s in their bio.
If you are aiming for memorable, you might want to use another angle.

Jen Klein
12-14-2011, 09:32 PM
I don't know what's the standard practice in terms of short stories, but I did have to write a bio for my book agent to use with submissions. It's not word-for-word on my blog, but you can go here...

http://jenkleinbooks.com/about/

... for what I used as a teeny-tiny blurb and then also there's a link to my longer bio. One thing that I think is memorable/appreciated is if the bio is written in your voice. Like instead of a dry -- I went to so and so college and have so and so experience -- write it in your writing voice. Whatever's unique and fun about your writing, use that when writing your bio.

And good luck!

September
12-14-2011, 11:55 PM
Thank you everyone! This is helpful. I appreciate it! :D

Maryn
12-15-2011, 01:40 AM
September, when you write up your bio, or several versions of it, if you want to strip out anything personal and get help tweaking it to perfection, or picking which one works for the market you have in mind, just ask.

Maryn, who drives a minivan but lacks the requisite golden retriever

Richard White
12-15-2011, 09:26 PM
I had to work up something for the author bios they use in convention catalogs. It's a living document, but trying to tie up your career (or pseudo-career, in my case *grin*) in 150 words or less teaches you how to pare stuff down to the minimum and still make it interesting to read.

Which, for me, is tough. I tend to be a tad long-winded at best.