Conference Challenge #7- Writing Your Author Bio

Happy Wednesday, everyone.

I know you are completing all those awesome writing challenges for the upcoming conference.  Trust me, you don’t want to miss out on the amazing gift basket that has your name written all over it.  Ok, Ok…might have your name written all over it.

Today’s writing challenge (drum roll please) is to write your author bio.

What?  You are not jumping for joy like these over caffeinated people?

You’ve spent a lot of time on your manuscript.  You’ve written several copies, edited, rewritten, and polished.  If you haven’t done so already, you might want to tackle the somewhat daunting challenge of writing your author bio.

Often, it is the first thing an editor or agent will see.  You want it to be spot on and perfect, right?

But, what does that mean exactly?  What do you want your bio to convey?  What must be included?

We’re writers and illustrators.  We have creative minds.  Condensing our work into one paragraph or about 12 sentences should be easy, right?

WRONG! (at least for me- you might be much more brilliant)

First, you should determine the audience for your bio.  Authors tend to have more than one depending on the audience.  For our purposes, I want you to keep it brief, but informative.

A general rule of thumb is that the bio should be written in third person.

Now, let’s get to the meat of the bio- How do you want to seem?  Brilliant, funny, compelling, and relatable- of course. Oh, and qualified!

1. Introduce yourself:

Seriously, write your name and any memberships in professional writing organizations (hint-SCBWI). Make sure to include anything that gives you credibility.  If you are a teacher, a librarian, you have special experience that makes you an expert on the subject you are pitching/writing.

2.  Make yourself relatable:

Add details that make you seem familiar and likeable.

3.  Add your history and professional accomplishments:

Make it brief, no more than three credits.  List your major accomplishments and awards.  You don’t want others to lose interest.  So, not too heavy on the resume type information.

4.  Don’t forget to include your contact information:

How will an editor, agent or publishing house get in touch with you?

Don’t overload your bio with URL’s, though.

Now, try it out.  Write a few bios for different audiences.  Imagine how prepared you will be.

That is, if you’ve perfected your query letter, synopsis, book jacket, bylines, proposal, etc….

The list goes on and on!

And for all you talented illustrators in our area, Chieu has the following:

Illustrating Challenge:

Is it time to update your illustrator postcard with all the great work you’ve done over the winter?  Or maybe come up with a fresh design to send out for the spring?  This challenge will hopefully get your creative energy flowing.  Sketch out a new look for your postcard that will wow the art directors and editors!  If you wish to share your drawings, please send them to chieuurban(at)gmail(dot)com.

Happy writing and drawing-

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10 Responses to Conference Challenge #7- Writing Your Author Bio

  1. Sue Poduska says:

    Thanks, Larissa. I’ve been thinking I need to update that thing. This gives me impetus. Will post it when it’s perfect. … Well, close to perfect, anyway.

  2. Kara Laughlin has known she wanted to be a writer ever since the Providence Journal printed her limerick on their Kids’ Page back in second grade. Since that early brush with fame she’s worked as an editor, book compositor, studio assistant to a fiber artist, theater critic, NEA-funded writing instructor. After years spent dreaming of seeing her name on the spine of a book, last year Capstone Publishers hired her to write Beautiful Bags for the Crafty Fashionista and Hip Hair Accessories for the Crafty Fashionista. Her next book for Capstone, due out early next year, is another craft book, this time on paper keepsakes.

    It’s a start. Now if someone could just invent a magic formula for condensing down to 50 words, I would be very happy.

  3. Okay, Kara, since you took the leap, here goes:
    Valerie Ormond spent the majority of her adult life as a Naval Intelligence Officer. The daughter of two English majors, and an English major herself, she grew up with a great interest in books and writing. Her first novel, Believing In Horses (March 2011, J.B. Max Publishing), received the Gold Medal in Children’s Literature in the 2011 Stars and Flags Book Awards. Valerie is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Military Writers Society of America, and numerous equine and veteran associations. She can be reached via her web site at www://BelievingInHorses.com.
    (For a military audience, I’d think.)

  4. Sue Poduska says:

    Leaping!

    Sue Poduska writes middle grade fiction and nonfiction and is active in the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), serving on the local planning committee. Her current project, That’s Impossible, is a nonfiction book about impossible ideas that became possible. She hopes one of her readers will conquer cold fusion and solve the world’s energy problems. She also wrote Megan’s Solution, a novel about a twelve year old math geek. Sue has reviewed over 100 books for the Children’s Literature online database, for teachers and librarians. She has been everything from a stay-at-home mom to an actuarial consultant. Having grown up in the Midwest, she now lives in Maryland with her husband. Her two grown children live close by with their families. Contact her at Sue.Poduska@gmail.com .

  5. Okay, so I have to admit that this challenge (not #6) is the one that made me want to curse your names! Writing my author bio is the scary writing task I’ve been avoiding for months, and now I have to tackle it, because I promised to fulfill every challenge you threw at me 😛 – I’ve been breaking out in cold sweats all week over this one, and I still don’t know what to say!

    So tonight, I gave myself permission to write an epic failure of an author’s bio: It may not be “right,” but it’s definitely “me!” (I’m hoping, if I post it here, you all might be willing to help me fix it!!)

    Veronica Bartles believes that creativity is the cornerstone of life. A pre-published author of children’s books, from picture books to YA novels, she is known among her children’s friends as “the one with all the stories to tell.” Veronica is also known for her off-the-wall Halloween costumes, original cookie recipes and knitting purses and other accessories out of recycled plastic grocery bags. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrators , the Maryland Writer’s Association and the Y Knot Knitters. You can read more on her blog: http://i-am-so-grateful.blogspot.com

  6. oops! I just noticed that my auto-correct function on my brain added an apostrophe on “writer’s” when it should have been “writers” for SCBWI – Really, I do know the difference… :S

  7. valeriebelievinginhorses says:

    Hi Veronica – I like bios that make me remember the person, and yours does that with the unique details such as halloween, cookies, and recycled bag knitting. since you asked for comments, mine would be that the terms “pre-published” and “YA” might be very understandable to the writing community, but maybe not to others. So may want to find a more audience-friendly term for readers in “pre-published” and spell out YA.

    I hate bios, too. Have you ever been to a conference where you have to introduce a person you’ve just met to the crowd after speaking to them for just a few minutes? Wish we could do this with author bios, too. 🙂

  8. Shirley Menendez says:

    Writing bios for different audiences is not easy, so this was a good challenge. To have more appeal to kids, I think it would help my bio if I had a pet, but maybe they would also identify with my past experience as a librarian. I’m still working on it.

  9. Lona Queen says:

    I have been having fun with the challenges, and so decided why stop now. This first one is fictional, written for the back book jacket.

    Lona Queen, world-renowned and versatile writer and artist is the the author of numerous award-winning books. She is especially drawn to writing fantastical fiction.
    She insists that she never grew-up anywhere and has no plans to ever do so. Not one to limit herself or her possibilities, she was well into her 50s before she even decided what she wanted to do with her life: be an author. Prior to that, she and her husband produced a motorcycle magazine. For 23 years she fulfilled any and all positions necessary for its publication, including editor, art director, accountant, shipper, ad sales and janitor.
    She lives mainly inside her own head, or in whatever book she is currently reading or writing. She enjoys travel, nature, gardening, animals, yoga, and kids, especially her nieces and nephews, great or otherwise.
    Her best advice to other writers is to adopt a pet. Then when you are caught mumbling to yourself, conversing with your characters or reading out loud, and others ask who you are talking to, you can point to your companion pet and they won’t think you quite as crazy.
    Her own companion pet is a cat named O.B. One, originally short for Obnoxious One, but recently changed to Obviously Blissful One.

    A slightly more realistic try, and a lot dryer as I don’t have much to say.

    Lona Queen is a member of the SCBWI and Maryland Writers Association, and has written several picture books, plus middle grade and young adult fiction. She has a degree in both Fine Art and Theater, and her career has taken her from advertising paste-up artist to catalog layout and production, in the days before everything was made easier by the computer. Her last stint of 23 years was as a partner in the production of a motorcycle magazine. Here her tasks ran the gamut from editor to art director. Besides stories published in the motorcycle magazine, her rebus, Emma’s House, was published in Turtle magazine in November 2009.
    She lives in Maryland with her husband and cat. You can contact her at (info here).

  10. Pingback: Conference Challenge Wrap Up! « As the Eraser Burns

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