Most of us have no problem telling others, in detail, about what our dearest friend has accomplished. We can easily help that friend write a resumé or a dating profile or even rattle off their perfections while introducing them at a gathering. When it comes to singing our own praises, however, we can get tongue-tied. It may embarrass us. It may confuse us. It may leave us with absolutely nothing to say.
And then there's that author bio we're supposed to write for our book proposal. And the shortened form of it that's supposed to go on our agent query letters. How do we break through the wall of resistance and write a bio that expresses who we are and why we are the right person to write this book, that shows we are a promotable, passionate author with something to say?
We have to get past all the resistance. We have to break free of those rules we've been taught that basically say that touting our own achievements is unseemly. And we definitely don't want to be like that guy we all know, the one whose swagger, braggadocio, and name-dropping make us do an inward eye roll. There is, however, another way, a wholesome way, to tell the world what we can do.
In order to access that wholesome way, we must learn to treat our talents and accomplishments with the respect and appreciation that is their due. Which is why I recommend the following exercise. It is a particularly helpful first step in writing an effective bio for your book proposal.
EXERCISE: Getting Ready to Write or Revise Your Author Bio
- Remember, your job is to be your own best friend. This is no time for false modesty.
- Write this section in the third person. This is the proper way to write a bio for a book proposal.
- Pretend you're writing about someone else. Remember, it's usually easier to tout the accomplishments of another person than it is to tout your own. Third person makes that easier to do.
- When you write your query letter and include a first-person bio section, just adapt from the third-person bio you write.
OKAY, NOW THE FUN BEGINS:
WRITE DOWN ANSWERS TO THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS.
Don't stress or second-guess. This is the raw material from which you will craft your bio. For now, you're discovering or rediscovering who you are and what you've done.
Let's do the whole third-person thing with the questions, too.
· What makes [YOUR NAME] the perfect person to write this book?
· Which, if any, of [YOUR NAME'S] professional experiences inform the writing of this book?
· Which, if any, of [YOUR NAME'S] personal experiences inform the writing of this book?
· What, if any, are [YOUR NAME'S] previous writing credits (articles, books)? (Don't worry; there's a first time for everyone. The proof of how well you write will be in your sample pages.)
· What other relevant professional credentials does [YOUR NAME] have? (Membership or office in any relevant professional associations? Received any awards?)
· Is [YOUR NAME'S] schooling relevant to the subject of the book, or did [YOUR NAME] attend a prestigious university, regardless of the relevance of the degree? (If so, mention it.)
· Is [YOUR NAME] working on or has s/he/they planned any sequel or spin-off ideas for this book?
Now you've got your raw material. Start writing your bio in the third person. Have fun with it. Pretend you are at a party, telling someone about this interesting person you know.
Wishing you lots of success and happiness with all your writing!