Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Being my own third wheel: The Bio

Welcome back to my weekly series about Life After the Contract where I talk about the things that happen after you have a contract that largely go untalked about. Last week I talked about how as soon as a contract exists you need a bazillion things previously not needed, causing a huge emergency time rush. One of the most agonizing things is the biography.

Under normal circumstances, I don’t mind talking about myself. In fact, I tend to think of myself as a key eyewitness in my life. Perhaps my deductions into the reasoning behind certain actions are somewhat amateurish leading to the occasional emotional outburst (hey, if I were a professional, I’d be able to channel that stuff properly), but otherwise, I’m something of an expert.

But once there is a needed to describe myself to other people as though it isn’t me doing the describing… let’s just say it got interesting. Oh, and did I mention that I basically needed it yesterday?

In a nutshell, the bio has to tell the world who you are, why anyone should care, and what you’ve done. And you have a very short space to do it in. Oh, and did I mention that there are literally millions of people who have written bios, and no one is ever going to pick up your book base off your bio? But everyone knows that some people might pick up your book based off your bio, it just depends on if it can stand out (which is different for every person, because, you know, some people like Papyrus font and some people would like to burn Papyrus from every word processor).

And it’s traditionally done in third person.

I talk about myself as though I am not myself? Which sort of makes me feel like I should wear a sign along the lines of “Pay no attention to the writer behind the curtain. She is in no way biased about this bio currently being read.”

In short it makes me crazy to talk about myself like that. Worse, if a writer had been at all prepared—and as people will no doubt recall, I was not—this should already have been written. Which means a writer with contract in hand has a sudden need to talk about themselves as if they were someone else bragging about themselves and might potentially be suffering from the solid sting of embarrassingly knowing they should have done something sooner. This knowledge that you should have written it already REALLY give the imposter syndrome some nice material to work with. And, because you’re rushing, it’s not your best work. Which means, you might be pushing that imposter alarm a few more times. *sigh*

In short folks, learn from my fail.


  1. Oh, the dreaded bio. Make yourself interesting in 3 sentences!
    (There are people who actually like Papyrus font?)

  2. I hated writing mine. And actually - stupidly - mine is slightly different in different places, rookie error! I'm not sure when I finalised my (initial) bio, but I don't think I had it in place until my first contract was signed and I got the email asking for it.

  3. Bios are tough. Fortunately, once you have the basic one down, it's easy to modify it for future books.

  4. I hate writing them too. Elizabeth is awesome! Nah. I usually go with, Elizabeth is trying to survive the climb over the laundry pile. Not overly professional.

  5. The best writer bio I've ever read started off by four outlandish things about the author, followed by "one of those things is not true". I found that the rest of the bio hardly mattered after that, because I was wondering how three of those things could be true. O_o

  6. Talking about oneself in the third person is never easy to do. Just be sure you don't go too far and begin using the royal "We" when referring to yourself. Never works well unless you're the Queen.


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