In this post, we put our own writing coach on the receiving end of your questions. Mia Botha will answer questions you have. Send them to the email address in the post.
Ask The Writing Coach
I get asked many interesting questions by writers and thought you may be interested in some of them. Here is a great question from Patty about her author bio.
If you have any questions for me, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to answer them.
I wonder if you could help me with a dilemma. I would like to begin submitting my short stories for publication/contests, but I’m having trouble with something.
This is a typical requirement for submission: Contributors are asked to include a brief biographical note with their submissions.
I feel like I don’t have anything of value to say here. I’ve never been published. I graduated from a very small private Christian college, but my views and beliefs have changed drastically since that time. I can say I’ve been writing since I was a teenager (about 40 years), but that’s all I can think of to say. UGH… Can you help me? I kinda feel like I’m trying to put makeup on a pig, lol.
Firstly, Miss Piggy is a very successful make-up-wearing pig, so I feel we’re starting in a good place. Hehe. This is a great question, and you are certainly not alone. It is daunting when you read a writer’s bio and it is an endless list of prestigious publications, but we all have to start somewhere.
The first thing to remember is that your writing bio must be writing-related. It seems obvious, but when we have to write about ourselves, we get uncomfortable and we digress and talk about our grandchildren, pets, and spring gardens instead.
So, what do you write about? Think of all the things you do that support your writing.
- Think about books you read. Can you mention book clubs and book reviews?
- How and when do you write? Are you part of a community or writing group?
- Have you completed any writing courses and writing challenges?
Here is a guide to the structure of your author bio:
- Introduce yourself and state the relevance, most often this would be your name and what you have written.
- Elaborate on the topic and explain a little about your writing.
- Establish your qualifications and credibility, and mention any degrees, courses, and competitions. (Recent and relevant information is important.)
- Add something that is uniquely you. This does not have to be writing-related but keep it brief and show us you are human.
- You can end with links to other platforms, sales pages, or social media profiles.
Let’s try an example. Keeping in mind that I am making most of it up:
Example 1: Patty Panni is a writer, a gardener, and a voracious reader. She has been writing since her teenage years and wrote many long love stories in spiralbound notebooks. Today, she is an active member of an online writing community called Deadlines for Writers and completed the 12 Short Stories in 12 Months Challenge in 2021. Her writing tastes have changed, and she has swopped romantic heroes for crime-fighting heartthrobs. She is currently working on a novel that deals with the harrowing world of human trafficking. When she isn’t writing, she gardens, and she cannot confirm or deny if the odd-shaped holes in the beds are intended for misbehaving characters.
Example 2: Patty Panni fell in love with Nancy Drew books as a young girl and has been writing detective stories since. She is an active member of an online writing community called Deadlines for Writers and completed the 12 Short Stories in 12 Months Challenge in 2021. She is currently working on a novel that deals with an investigation into the harrowing world of human trafficking. When she isn’t writing she bakes cookies, dreams up new plots, and spies on her neighbours. You never know where the next idea is going to come from, right?
Okay, so as you can see, I had some fun with these. If it is a more serious publication, you will submit a more serious bio, but I am sure you get the idea.
I hope this helps.
by Mia Botha
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