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Writing Bio-logy
by Steff Green

Your author bio introduces you to your audience and establishes you as an expert in your field. Successful bios entice readers to pick up your other books, and help freelance writers get hired and rehired.

Despite the bio's importance, many writers don't take the time and care necessary to produce an engaging, entertaining bio. A boring, inappropriate bio could damage a writing career.

Your bio needs to grab the reader's attention, just like the first paragraph of a story or article. Your bio says "'this person is interesting. I'd like to read more of their work." Each bio you write needs to contain these elements:

Your name and contact details: Use your professional/business name, not your nickname. Include at least one way for a potential client to contact you, whether this is a phone number, email address, or website.

Information about your business: Write 1-2 sentences about the services you offer and examples of the markets you've published in. If you're a fiction author, note the genres you write and details of any forthcoming publications. If you've won any awards or have real life experience relevant to your audience, add it to this section.

Tailor each bio to a specific audience. Your career in forensic anthropology might interest readers of your murder mysteries, but not subscribers to the Family Scrapbooking Magazine.

A personal detail about yourself: adding a personal touch reminds your readers that you're a human being. Use your personality to connect with your readers, whether you tug their heartstrings or make them laugh. Most writers include the country/area they live in, and a sentence about their family and pets. Others talk about their hobbies or their favourite writers.

Keep this section brief and focused. Don't waffle for pages about the adventures of your seventeen cats.

Always write your bio in the third person, unless an editor tells you otherwise. Every detail included in your bio must be factual—don't fabricate publication credits or membership to organisations. If you have no credits or affiliations, talk about something else you've done your audience will identify with.

Bios come in several different types. Use 1-2 sentence byline bios underneath your email signature or whenever you need a short, snappy introduction for your writing business.

Stephanie Green is a New Zealand freelance writer and Braille transcriber with published articles on disabilities, writing, weddings and heavy metal music.

Magazine/internet publication bios are slightly longer—3-5 sentences—and contain more information. Be sure to include an active link to your website; you'll encourage readers to access your site and increase your ranking with the search engines.

Stephanie Green is a freelance writer living in New Zealand with her drummer husband and their medieval sword collection. Her short fiction, articles and poems have appeared in Abilities Magazine, Writers' News, Strange Horizons, Writing World, Breath and Shadow and Nocturne Magazine, among others. Visit her website at www.steffgreen.com

A blurb for a book should be a paragraph—anything from 50-200 words. Visit your local bookshop or library and study the author bios of books in your genre. You'll notice how each author crafts their bio to interest their audience.

Website bios vary in length from two sentences to several pages. Websites allow you to experiment with different bio formats—interviews with yourself, FAQs, photographs, animations and playlists.

When adding personal information to website bios, remember that anyone can read your site. Be careful what information you reveal. Use pseudonyms for family members and avoid mentioning your address or home phone number.

Never underestimate the importance of a bio as part of your professional writing toolkit. A good bio has the potential to grab your audience's attention and attracts readers and more writing work. A bad bio alienates your audience and makes you seem boring, unprofessional or downright crazy.

© Copyright 2009, Steff Green

Steff Green is a freelance writer and braille producer living in New Zealand. Her work appears in Abilities Magazine, Writing World, Vision, Funds For Writers, Writer Within, Nocturne Magazine, Breath and Shadow and Mindflights, among others. You can view her website at http://steffgreen.com

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