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Author bios in magazines

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Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

Liz_V

Not my first rodeo.
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Y'know those little italicized blurbs about the author that appear before (or occasionally after) each short story in a magazine? Any good tips for writing one? Or examples of particularly good ones you've seen?

I lack the awesomely impressive and relevant life experiences to fill it up that way, so I have to come up with something else.

(And before anyone suggests it: Yeah, I was going to grab an issue of the magazine in question and look at the examples there. That was before I discovered that there isn't a copy to be had within an hour's drive of my home. WTF, local libraries and bookstores?)
 

Stytch

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Be vague enough that the nutjobs can't find you too easily?
 

Maggie Maxwell

Making Einstein cry since 1994
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There are more than paper publications to scour for ideas. Daily Science Fiction has optional author bios and it's free to read online. Check the archives and see what people have to say. Most of the ones I see for people with little to no experience details family, pets, or comedic little blurbs. Here's the one I went with before I got published.

Maggie Maxwell has been writing stories that make physicists roll in their graves since 1994. She currently lives in Durham, NC with her husband, the ghosts of all the plants she's killed, and a large number of overworked and underpaid bookshelves.
 

Liz_V

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And... look who has their current issue's author bios online! (Because nothing makes information appear faster than me saying in public that I can't find it. *headdesk*)

Maggie, that's a great bio! Thanks for sharing it.

Actually, my one other sale thus far was to DSF. But the bio I wrote then is not the right fit now, plus I wanted to get a feel for whether the print mags/this one in particular tended to a different style. (Answer: Not much, as far as I can tell.)
 

Paul Lamb

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Most of my publications are in journals that are too obscure to mean anything to anyone, so I lean toward a more comic, disparaging bio, talking about escaping to my cabin in the woods and never straying far from my laptop.
 

Dan Rhys

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Be vague enough that the nutjobs can't find you too easily?

I can't help but wonder if that depends on the audience one targets. I suspect that those trying to target the lowest common denominator will attract the nutjobs while authors trying to connect to fairly deep thinkers or more intellectual types are less likely to do so. A bit off the topic perhaps but something I've always wondered.
 

lizmonster

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Do you know, I don't remember a single word of any author bio I've ever read. I know I've read some clever ones, but in the end, they didn't make me remember the writer any better. Stories, I remember.

I went with innocuous myself.
 

mccardey

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Could you get away by focusing on where the story came from, rather than personal deets? I feel your pain, though. I hate writing those about me things. And the people who do it well, do it so incredibly well.
 
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Paul Lamb

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I can't help but wonder if that depends on the audience one targets. I suspect that those trying to target the lowest common denominator will attract the nutjobs while authors trying to connect to fairly deep thinkers or more intellectual types are less likely to do so. A bit off the topic perhaps but something I've always wondered.

But then there are the lowest common denominators who think they are deep thinkers and intellectual types and want you to co-author their great book idea with them.
 

AW Admin

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You can simply say something like X enjoys C and R, and is working on X

Where C and R are genres you read or hobbies, and X is the current genre and form (Novel or short story) you're writing.
 

Stytch

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I can't help but wonder if that depends on the audience one targets. I suspect that those trying to target the lowest common denominator will attract the nutjobs while authors trying to connect to fairly deep thinkers or more intellectual types are less likely to do so. A bit off the topic perhaps but something I've always wondered.

I think, as many women will attest, it's not the "target audience" that brings out the crazies. Maybe some day we'll figure out what it is.
 

Polenth

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I know people read my bios, because I get people going, "Wait, you were being serious about the cockroaches!?"

Don't worry too much about it though. The most important thing is a link to your author website, as that's the practical piece of information people get from bios.
 

Liz_V

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Thx for the suggestions, all. I put together something mildly amusing and tactfully brief, so I should be good.

mccardey - Good suggestion, though in this case the story is considerably more interesting than the origin story of the story. At least, it'd better be.

Polenth - *grin* My high school science teachers raised racing cockroaches, so I never assuming someone is kidding about that sort of thing.
 

Elizabeth George's book Write Away