Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is an independent bookstore in Worcester, Massachusetts. We love our authors, and we do our best to support them through events, consignment options, and now a little advice! As ABSW events coordinator for some years, as well as being an author and editor, Trisha J. Wooldridge has worked in many facets of the publishing business. This series is meant to help authors make the most of event opportunities.
Your Bio is Not Just About You
You’ve got a book signing, author talk, or some other great promotional event coming up?
“Send me your author bio,” says the promoter, contact, coordinator, or whoever is making this magic happen.
Or, even better, “Send me a short author bio.”
Scenario 1: You don’t actually have a bio ready to copy-paste into an email and send away. So…the request sits in your inbox as you think about how you want to present yourself until your contact, who also has a lot of events to promote, asks you again. Maybe it sits a while… and finally, it’s a week or two before the event and your contact is frustrated because they haven’t been able to do their job to promote you. They may have had to search online and piece together stuff from Amazon, your webpage, or wherever else they could find stuff. The crowd is lousy, and the venue is upset for lack of sales, and you’re upset for lack of sales.
Scenario 2: You copy-paste your long bio from your webpage, “author info,” or something else. And the person who requested the bio is grumbling and gritting their teeth because they have to now go through this and piece together the pertinent info from your life history, every little publication, and your love of cats to write something coherent, useful, and will fit onto a flyer, a press release, and all the local calendar listings.
Scenario 3: You already have several bios ready to go of varying lengths, you make minor adjustments to best fit the event or venue, and you send a couple of options to the promoter. The promoter sings your praises and blesses your name because now their job is a lot easier, they can maximize event promotion by getting info out early, they can make flyers… all is good in the world.
If it’s not clear, you want to be the author in Scenario 3.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to have your author bio, in multiple sizes, ready to go at a moment’s notice.
For my own author bio, I have a master list and several shortened versions at about 150 words, 100 words, 75 words, and 50 words. When someone asks for a “short bio”, they usually want the 50-75 word version. If you have both, send both. In fact, I strongly suggest you have both and send both.
Now, I specifically ask for 50-word bios from authors because I know the specs of the places I post events; I want something I can ease into a press release; and I want something I can put on a flyer.
Here’s the thing, though, if I ask for a 50-word bio and you send me a 75-word bio? A 100-word bio? You’ve given me more work and you didn’t follow directions. Sadly, this happens a lot. People running events remember who was easy to work with and who was hard to work with, and that affects who gets invited back for future events. If you’re given specific instructions, follow them. The last thing you want to do is make it HARDER for the person who wants to promote you (because it promotes their business) to do so.
So what makes a good bio, short as it may be?
Here are some things to think about:
What book/books you trying to sell at this event? What details will best sell those books? What about you / your books makes you a good fit for this venue? Who is your target audience for the book / this event?
And some of these are general points you’d want in any bio:
What book are you selling? What makes you or your book different from what’s out there? What makes you different from other authors?
Pick the few things that stand out the most, that you think people want to hear. And let the “voice” of your bio show your personality. While it definitely needs to be in third person (Trisha J. Wooldridge writes…), it should still be you. Is it a little snarky? Is it serious? Is it whimsical?
Oh – and another important part of your bio – don’t forget your full author name. And yes, that is part of the word count.
For even more information, one of the groups I follow, Creative Author Marketing, recently posted a great video on writing your bio, so check that out, too!
* * *
Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester, 65 James Street, Worcester, MA 01603.
Trisha J. Wooldridge, A Novel Friend Writing & Editing