Evolution of a Short Author Bio
Posted on February 12, 2018
by Aeryn Rudel
About two years ago, I wrote a blog post outlining how to write a 50-word author bio, or at least how I write one. I mentioned in that post that an author bio is a living thing and should change and grow as you change and grow as a writer. Well, let’s take a look at that bio-building process and see how my 50-word bio has transformed in the last two years (and how it might change again in the future).
Like last time, my short author bio will include the following elements:
- Basic details
- Where to go/buy
The who, what, and where. Like I said in the first post, keep potentially sensitive data out of your bio. No need to give all the identity thieves in the world a head start by plastering your phone number and address all over the place.
Here are my basic details in 2016:
Aeryn Rudel is a freelance writer from Seattle, Washington.
And, uh, here are my basic details now:
Aeryn Rudel is a freelance writer from Seattle, Washington.
Yep, I still live in the same place, so no changes here. I guess I could say something like novelist instead of freelance writer, but with only two novels under my belt and a lot more short story and gaming credits, writer just feels more accurate.
Also, like I said in the first post, I’ve decided to reveal the city I live in. In a big city like Seattle, I don’t feel like there’s much risk there, but I could make it more vague by saying something like the Pacific Northwest.
This is where you let folks know about the cool stuff you’ve written and published. Like everything in this bio, you should keep it short and to the point. List a few of your more prominent publications, awards, and the like.
My accomplishments look like this in 2016:
His short fiction has appeared in The Devilfish Review, Evil Girlfriend Media, and The Molotov Cocktail.
Here’s what I’ve been going with recently:
His second novel, Aftershock, was recently published by Privateer Press.
Obviously, the big change from 2016 to 2018 is I’ve published a couple of novels with Privateer Press. I chose to mention the second and most recent novel because it implies I’ve written more than one without, you know, listing them both. Now, when I publish the third novel this year, I might go with something like: He is the author of the Acts of War trilogy. That would also leave me plenty of room if I wanted to list another significant publication.
Yeah, I could have listed some of my more recent short story publications, a few of which are with pro markets, but I think the novel is more significant. It also allows me to trim some words I’ll use elsewhere.
Where to Go/Buy
If folks like your work enough to actually read the bio at the end of your story, definitely give them a link to click so they can check out more of your stuff. Blogs, websites, even things like Amazon author pages are all possibilities.
In 2016, my where to go/buy looks like this:
Learn more about Aeryn and his work on his blog at www.rejectomancy.com.
Here’s what it looks like now:
Aeryn occasionally offers dubious advice on the subjects of writing and rejection (mostly rejection) on his blog at www.rejectomancy.com.
Yep, it’s essentially the same, but did you notice my oh-so-clever and self-deprecating humor? Doesn’t that make you feel sorry for me/want to check out my blog? 🙂 All kidding aside, I think injecting a little of your personality into your bio is a good thing. But a little dab’ll do ya. Like any of the sections in a 50-word bio, keep it short.
The Finished Bio
Okay, let’s looks at the final product.
Aeryn Rudel is a freelance writer from Seattle, Washington. His short fiction has appeared in The Devilfish Review, Evil Girlfriend Media, and The Molotov Cocktail. Learn more about Aeryn and his work on his blog at www.rejectomancy.com.
And here’s 2018:
Aeryn Rudel is a freelance writer from Seattle, Washington. His second novel, Aftershock, was recently published by Privateer Press. Aeryn occasionally offers dubious advice on the subjects of writing and rejection (mostly rejection) on his blog at www.rejectomancy.com.
My 2016 bio is 37 words long, and my 2018 bio is 38. So I’m still well under the 50-word limit. That gives me plenty of room to expand in the future, and I’ve earmarked those extra words for the accomplishments section when I have something else I want to share/point folks at.
How has your author bio changed over your writing career? Tell me about it in the comments.
Don’t you want to mention the short stories as well?
Aeryn Rudel is a freelance writer from Seattle, Washington. His second novel, Aftershock, was published by Privateer Press; his short fiction has appeared in The Molotov Cocktail among others. Aeryn offers dubious advice on the subjects of writing and (mostly) rejection on his blog, http://www.rejectomancy.com.
45 words. It serves to remind the reader that you are a published author of short fiction as well as novels.
Incidentally, does the 50 word limit promote publishers with shorter names? Because the shorter the names, the more you can mention.
I considered that, but it feels a little wordy to me. That’s personal preference, though; it’s a totally viable thing to do.
Well, publishers with shorter names are certainly easier to fit in to 50-word bios, no doubt about that. 🙂
Would you put this bio in the cover letter? Or submit it only once a piece has been accepted? I ask because I read (can’t remember where, sorry) that, for submission to higher-level SFF markets, the cover letter shouldn’t even mention previous publications unless they’re at least semipro level because they’re more likely to hurt than help. Thoughts? Thanks!
This is the bio I use in cover letters. That said, I only include a bio in a cover letter if the market asks for it. Some do, some don’t. When they do, I usually find they want 50 words or less.
If a story is accepted, I often provide the same bio unless the publisher asks for something specific.
Thanks for the comment. 🙂