Aug102016

How to Write (and Not to Write) an Author Bio ~ Re-post from Fiction University

As many of my long time blog readers will know, I don’t often (if ever) do “how to write” posts. I just don’t consider it my thing. However, Janet Hardy kindly invited me to Fiction University. This is an excellent all around blog if you are (or would like to be) a debut author. I wrote about author bios, and I present it below for your edification, Gentle Reader.

How to Write (and Not to Write) an Author Bio

I still have readers who tell me they purchased my first book because they liked the bio. Sure, the cover got them to pick it up, and the description got them intrigued, but they bought it because of the bio. I think this is uncommon. I took a risk with my bio and it worked.

But first, here’s what 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 thingy ]. She lives with a [tolerant, saintly, long-suffering] spouse/partner and two [witty descriptor] [cats/children] and a [dog/garden].

So, that’s your formula.

Why would readers pick up a book written by someone who doesn’t have the imagination to come up with a unique bio?

My recommendation? Break from tradition.

How?

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. Mystery or suspense? Make that bio mysterious and suspenseful. 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 mine 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 that bio?

This book took place in England, so I wanted to establish both credentials and a connection to the UK (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 & descriptive word choice). My hero 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 in my bio.

I had three sentences to work with for my bio. Three. At least two things in each sentence tie to my world, my style as a writer, and/or my general whimsy. Someone who doesn’t respond well to this bio, probably 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 hometown (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.

 

{Gail’s monthly read along for August is Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce.}

PROJECT ROUND UP  

  • Romancing the Inventor ~ A Supernatural Society Novella
    Status: Beta edit back, working now. Tentative release date Nov. 1 2016.
    LBGT romance featuring a parlormaid bent on seducing a certain cross-dressing inventor who is too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?
  • Romancing the Werewolf ~ A Supernatural Society Novella
    Status: Outline.
    LBGT reunion romance featuring your favorite reluctant werewolf dandy, the return of a certain quietly efficient Beta, and a very unexpected gift.
  • Secret Project SAS ~ Novella? Novel? Who knows.
    Status: Rough draft.
    Something utterly new and different for Gail. Hella raunchy. Super dirty. Very very fun. Spin off of Marine Biology.

OUT NOW

2Imprudence

Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second

Rue and the crew of the Spotted Custard return from India with revelations that shake the foundations of England’s scientific community. Queen Victoria is not amused, the vampires are tetchy, and something is wrong with the local werewolf pack. To top it all off, Rue’s best friend Primrose keeps getting engaged to the most unacceptable military types.

Rue has family problems as well. Her vampire father is angry, her werewolf father is crazy, and her obstreperous mother is both. Worst of all, Rue’s beginning to suspect what they really are… is frightened.

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Jean Béraud (1849-1935) - Bois de Boulogne

Jean Béraud (1849-1935) – Bois de Boulogne

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

The Bookworm: Part Bookshelf, Part Cocoon Chair

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Frolicsome Engines: The Long Prehistory of Artificial Intelligence

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

The Contract Termination Clause

Book News:

Poison or Protect made Book Riot’s Best Books of 2016 So Far list

The Best Books of 2016, So Far

Quote of the Day:

“All authority is quite degrading. It degrades those who exercise it, and degrades those over whom it is exercised.”

~ Oscar Wilde

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!

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Posted by Gail Carriger

2 Responses

  1. Heidi Kneale (Her Grace) said:

    Good point.

    I’ve been looking at an awful lot of author bios, and I did notice they were all sounding quirkily the same.

    But yes, yours has always stood out to me.

    (Now I must go look at mine and ensure it’s sufficient for my needs.)

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