Did you know each time you pitch, you have a golden opportunity to advertise yourself for free? It’s your bio— your “verbal selfie”—a few sentences about yourself that accompany your article and give editors and readers a glimpse of the person behind the product.
1. Shy? Clueless? Reluctant? Get over it.
So you suffer from what I call Ego Phobia, acute fear of knowing the self. Snap out of it. You’re a writer. You can knock off a paragraph about you. Plunge into the deep end.
2. Keep it short.
Magazines are strapped for space. No magnum opus here. Under hundred words is enough. Fifty is better.
3. Tell the truth.
Keep the fiction for the story. You’re a writer, not God’s gift to boredom. (Unless you’re a flea performing tricks. Then you’d be a miracle.) Won a relevant award? Congratulations, own it. Belong to a writer’s group? Mention it. Jeffrey Archer’s bosom buddy? Ye-ah, good luck with that.
4. Make it in third person.
“I am an accomplished writer” sounds boastful. “He is an accomplished writer” sounds favourable. Use psychology. Write the bio from the magazine’s point of view to make it more valued and acceptable.
Achieve the objective.
Market yourself! Summarise your career. State your genre and standard repertoire. Mention some bigger publishing credits. Don’t brag or name-drop. Let your work speak for itself too.
6. Don’t be time-bound.
90 publishing credits may become 125 by the time the issue releases. Work forthcoming “this year” will be outdated by the next and lost in archives by the one after.
7. Get personal.
Personal nuggets help readers relate to you. They lift the overall tone of the bio and humanise it. An unusual fact about your life will do. Don’t bare your soul, air your dirty laundry or share your bank balance. Like to write naked? Spare us the sordid details. Like to write every hour? Heck, tell us how!
8. Match it to market.
Tailor the bio to the publication. Don’t submit a hysterical one to an academic journal or a solemn one to a whacky teenzine. Swimming Times readers don’t care if you play ice hockey on weekends. They do care if you swim the Channel on alternate Sundays.
9. Mix it up.
Don’t submit the exact same bio to the same magazine every time. Shake things up, move them around. Align the bio to the work itself. Writing about breakthrough genetic research? Mention if you’ve got an extra eye gene in one version, don’t mention it in another, hint on mutant alien super powers in a third. Variety is the spice of life.
10. But don’t mix up!
Be consistent. Don’t claim to be a sedate chess-lover in one and an energetic trampoline jumper in another. Unless you are.
11. Start with your name.
Nothing introduces you better. Make sure your name appears within the first five words.
12. End with a connection.
Tag on a website url or blog address or Amazon book link to tempt further reading. Feeling brave? Give your email address. Make contact, let your readers and customers reach you.
Strong bios make strong impressions. They establish your bonafides, make you memorable, and can lead to future sales. A bio that doesn’t educate, entertain or engage is a lost opportunity. Get creative, make an impact and grab that chance of free publicity!
About the author:
Devyani Borade writes on the humour and pathos of everyday life. Her fiction, nonfiction and art have been published in magazines across the world. Visit her website Verbolatry at http://devyaniborade.blogspot.com to contact her and read her other work.