Oct252010

Author Bios and Photos

I still have readers who tell me they purchased up my first book because they liked the bio. Sure the cover got them to read, and the description got them intrigued, but they bought it because of the bio. I think it’s because mine is different I took a risk, and it worked.
But first, here’s most authors do…

Your Fill-In-The-Blank Author Bio

[Name] lives in [City] where she pretends to be a [pithy comment on boring day job] when she would rather be writing. She spends her free time [standard hobby] and [less standard hobby]. She also likes to [quirky and slightly off base skill – like fencing or black belt in some combat skill]. She lives with a [tolerant, saintly, long-suffering] husband/wife/partner and two [witty descriptor] [cats/children] and a [dog/garden].Ah the creativity of author bios. Why, I ask, would I want to read a book written by someone who doesn’t even have the imagination to come up with a funny bio?

There’s your formula.
My recommendation? Break it.
How?
Check around and look at the bios of authors you admire (Lemony Snicket’s is wonderful), particularly those who also have large social media followings. If you write dark fiction, give your bio a mood swing into noir. If you write under a pen name, give that pen name your life… only tweaked. You don’t have to lie, but you can certainly exaggerate. Everything in my bio is true, just shifted slightly into the absurd.
Here’s how it read back in 2009:
Gail Carriger writes to cope with being raised in obscurity by an expatriate Brit and an incurable curmudgeon. She escaped small town life for Europe and inadvertently acquired an education. She now resides in the Colonies with a harem of Armenian lovers and tea imported from London.

Why?

This book took place in England, so I wanted to establish both credentials and a connection (I mention a British parent, importing tea, and travel). My books are funny and sexy so I wanted that tone to come across (the harem, general tone, descriptive word choice). The main character is a big gruff werewolf (hence “curmudgeon”) and the setting is historical, hence use of the word “Colonies.” I write with complex vocabulary, so I make certain this is also represented.

I had three sentences to work with for my bio and at least two things in each sentence tie to my world, my style as a writer, and my general whimsy. Someone who doesn’t respond well to this bio, probubly won’t like my books.

I’m not holding this up as an ideal, I’m merely stressing the fact that your bio is on your book. It is on your website (and lots of other places I hope). People read it as an insight, not into you as a person, but into you as an author. Notice I don’t mention my home town (not relevant), nor do I name hobbies (who cares, really).

Look, let’s be honest here: Your bio is a marketing tool. It’s brand management. Don’t cop out with a pat formula. You’re a writer? Write this as well and with as much attention as you would the book itself, if not more.

Now let’s talk author photos.

If you are a male genre author you must cross your arms and stare balefully into the camera in a “I suffer the woes of the universe” kind of way. If you are female genre author make certain your hair is down and you either, 1. hide coyly behind it, or 2. angle slightly to profile in the romance novelist way or, 3. put chin on fist in thoughtful manner.

Sigh. That’s sarcasm. That is.

Stop.
Take a shower, brush your hair, put on a nice shirt (makeup if you like) and get a professional to take your picture. Not your spouse. Not your sibling. Not your cat. Not a selfie.

No. Bad author.

Gail’s Daily Dose
Your Tisane of Smart:
The lost language of Italian parasols and the men who made them.
Your Writerly Tinctures:
Changes in submission policy for children’s books

Kate says, “Reading about the undead in Victorian England was highly enjoyable, and I loved the steampunk element to the story with all of the crazy inventions.”
SPOILER ALERT!
Even bigger SPOILER ALERT! Really, DON’T READ THE BLURB ON AMAZON if you haven’t read the other books first. Blameless review, great fun, a menu is compiled. And here I was worried there wasn’t enough food in Blameless as compared to the other books. Seriously, though, this review is HILARIOUS.

Heartless: Working on rewrite, Draft 5 read through. Final draft due Nov 1.
Timeless: Just an outline, making sure I pick up cookies and threads.
Secret Project F: Axed down and back with the agent.
CAKE in Space: Trunked.
See table of contents here, Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded available for preorder, releases November 15, 2010.
The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance 2 is out.

Quote of the Day:
“Tension is wonderful for making people laugh.”
~ John Cleese

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