1. NoaMineo
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    NoaMineo Member

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    Author Bios

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by NoaMineo, Jan 18, 2011.

    So I'm buissily preparing another round of querry letters to potential agents, and looking at all the things they ask for in a submission. A few of them are requesting an "author bio"

    Any tips on what sorts of things go into an author bio?
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    The most important thing to include is any paid publishing credits you may have. You could also mention any other relevant things that will help get an agent's attention (e.g. creative writing degree from X University, editor for Y Magazine, etc.).
     
  3. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Depends on where you are - the author bio in the UK can include a bit about yourself. Its an idea of what to put on their website etc, what other skills that will help you sell your book etc. Its an idea about how to market you, might be worth phoning and asking what they want.

    So for example mine includes how I managed to write my book, my affiliation to speakers club, IT skills etc
     
  4. vanarie
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    vanarie Senior Member

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    Exaggerate anything that can be interpreted in a positive way. Have you traveled overseas?

    NoaMineo is a Worldly author who traveled the globe in search of her next great inspiration. Etc, etc, etc
     
  5. NoaMineo
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    NoaMineo Member

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    I haven't traveled, I have no paid writing credits, and I have no degrees in writing, literature, or english. I'm in the U.S. so I'm not sure the fact that I'm an IT guy will be particularly riviting.

    About the only thing I have wich seems appropriate is the teen writers club I ran for several years. But that was as a volunteer, I didn't get paid for it or anything. I do some other interesting volunteer work, but again, not sure if it counts as relevent.

    Other than I basically live under a rock, so it's something of a tough sell...
     
  6. vanarie
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    vanarie Senior Member

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    Sorry for referring to you as a female. I got the symbol by your name mixed up.

    You could put some spin on the volunteer work and make it worth mentioning.
     
  7. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    You should seriously consider working on getting published in magazines. It'll be easier to get an agent's attention if you have some credits to your name.
     
  8. NoaMineo
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    NoaMineo Member

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    It's cool, I didn't even notice the gender-mixup, plus we're all gender-nuetral on the internet.

    I've thought about trying to go for magazines, but I don't really do short-fiction. Granted, it took me a considerable amount of practice to work my way up to novels, but I never really got the hang of telling a complete story in 1500 words. It kind of seems like a lot of work to perfect a whole new style of writting, just to sell the one I'm already good at.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if you've no paid writing credits, nor any expertise in areas to do with your submission, it's best to say nothing... degrees don't count and won't impress anyone, unless you're submitting a non-fiction book on a subject that pertains to your degree's discipline...
     
  10. vanarie
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    vanarie Senior Member

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    No offense intended but, if you can work a really good novel you should be able to work a really good short story. You novel should have at least one chapter that could sit out on it's own and be it's own story. And plenty entertaining. That is after all how a lot of novels become novels, they start out as shorts.

    Although it is your writing style it's up to you. But I agree with thirdwind. Getting a story in a magazine is the best way. If you don't want to do that than white-lie your way to writer glory.

    No biggie
     
  11. NoaMineo
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    NoaMineo Member

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    None taken. It's probably just a lack of confidence, but I've never really felt skilled at short-fiction.

    The way I see it, I could spend the next few years trying to get some credits from magazines, and maybe get nowhere, or I could spend that time trying to get novels published without credits, and still maybe get nowhere. Unless it's impossible to sell a novel without first selling short stories, I am probably better off trying to sell the novel.
     
  12. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    Why not just say something short and true? "Noa Mineo hails from Massachusetts, where she teaches geography and volunteers at Young Writers Unite. This is her first novel."

    It's not like someone's going to sneer at you for being new. Everyone was, once. If the writing's good, they'll take you.

    As for short stories, they're a way to make small cash quickly, and they're good practice. But some people are more novel-length thinkers, and some favor short stories; if you're uncomfortable with short pieces and don't want to be published in magazines, why on earth would you write shorts instead of the next book?

    Agents and publishers alike can take a long, long time to respond. You might as well get some use out of the time, and either write or plan the next project while you wait.
     
  13. vanarie
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    vanarie Senior Member

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    I think a website you might benefit from is http://www.authonomy.com/

    It's run by Harper Collins, and you can post your novel for review. From what I understand if it picks up enough momentum in the community there an editor from Harper Collins will review it for you.
     
  14. NoaMineo
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    NoaMineo Member

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    Thing is, though, if they're asking for a biography, doesn't that mean they want more than a single sentence? And HeinleinFan, I like what you said about short fiction verses novels, thanks.

    As for that authonomy thing, I don't really think places like that are a good idea. There is entirely to much opportunity to be plagarized, plus it's more of a popularity contest than a judge of actual merritt. To get people to read and review your book, you have to read and review theirs. The person with the best novel doesn't get noticed, its the one who reads thousands of words a minute and spends 16 hours a day reviewing other people's novels.
     
  15. Heather Munn
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    Heather Munn Member

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    Hey, sorry this comes so long after your question but our whole internet system went down for a week right as I was about to post this. (We live in the country, so internet's interesting. We had to string military-surplus fiber-optic cable through trees for a temporary fix, I kid you not.) Anyway...

    It's OK for it just to be a couple sentences, in fact that's standard. I wouldn't go above three or *maybe* four even if you found you had a lot to say. They don't really mean the usual meaning of bio; all they really want to know beyond the basics is stuff that's relevant to your book and to them, especially stuff that could help them sell the book. Basically, the author bio is the part they ask for *in case* you have something great to say about yourself: publishing credits, a blog with two thousand followers, seminars you teach on the topic of your (non-fiction) book. But some of us don't really, and that's just the facts. I didn't. It's tough, not having anything to say, but that alone is not going to sink you. The writing is what they pay attention to.

    So, put in the basics (where you're from, where you graduated from, maybe what you do now), add the writing group (of course volunteer work counts!), and add any one little thing about yourself that might be connected to your book. Like, I don't know what you write, but if it's sci-fi and involves computers then being an IT guy is relevant. If it was a Civil War historical you could mention that you've always been fascinated by such-and-such part of the Civil War and go to reenactments. If you were writing a crime novel you could mention that your father was a cop. (Only if this stuff was true, obviously.) Something to say to them that you have some life experience and know something, basically.
     
  16. NoaMineo
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    NoaMineo Member

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    Just out of curiosity, how much damage is a bad/improperly-written bio likely to do? The one I ended up sending was about 3 short paragraphs and included a fair amount of the sort of thing agents will not care about. Aside from running a critique group, I literally have nothing of interest.
     
  17. Heather Munn
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    Heather Munn Member

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    I'm not so very darn experienced myself, so I can't really quantify it for you, but I really don't think anything like that can sink you. Your manuscript, or if it's a proposal your sample chapters and synopsis, are the things that they really care about, and in the end that's what they make their decision on.

    Probably it'll tell them that you're new at this, but then, that's the truth, and not entirely in your disfavor. If you were an old hand at submissions and still unpublished, that might tell them something more negative. Everyone's a beginner at some point.
     
  18. NoaMineo
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    NoaMineo Member

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    I honestly don't have a whole lot of faith in that whole "your manuscript is the most important part", otherwise terrible books wouldn't get published and teaching people how to write good querry letters wouldn't be a multi-million-dollar industry.

    There's a mile-long list of do's and don'ts for how to how to put together a querry, getting that part right sincerly seems to be the most important part.
     
  19. Heather Munn
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    Heather Munn Member

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    Well, yeah, I hear you, but editors keep saying it...

    I think it may be more true when you're unpublished, though. I mean, if you're already famous for something or other and you write a crap book, they might take it because they know your name will sell it. But if no one's heard of you and you write a crap book, I mean... it's not gonna sell on the basis of writing your query right, is it? I can't really imagine how that would happen...

    Of course, when you get right down to it, all the crap books that get published may just be one of the mysteries of life...
     
  20. NoaMineo
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    NoaMineo Member

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    It's all something of a mystery, but getting published as a complete unknown is definitely tough. If this round of querries fails, I'm just going to hire somebody to write me the darn querry letter, I am so sick of all this guesswork.
     
  21. Heather Munn
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    Heather Munn Member

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    Someone's suggested they open up a space here in the review room for reviewing queries. I think it's a great idea. It's a really hard thing to learn how to do b/c you have to boil it down so much, into so little space and still prove you've got something interesting to show them. I don't know that I ever learned to write an actual query letter right. (I mean the initial letter, you know, where you have to tell them in three freaking sentences what the plot is and why they should be interested.) I never got asked for so much as a sample chapter on the basis of a query, although I did get to submit some proposals in other ways but those got rejected too. I finally got asked for the manuscript by an editor I met with at a writers' conference and that's who ended up taking it.

    Speaking of which... I mean, maybe you've heard this and all, but that's what I recommend. Go to a writers' conference or two and actually meet with people face-to-face. I've heard others recommend this too. I think a real face sticks in their minds a lot better than the gazillions of queries they receive every day...
     
  22. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i've got some good tips from the pros on how to write effective queries that i can send to anyone needing same... just drop me a line any time...

    and i heartily endorse the idea of adding a query/synopsis section to the review area...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  23. NoaMineo
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    NoaMineo Member

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    It's a great concept for those of you with the money and the time, the rest of us are kind of stuck with our querry letters and endless postage. I've never had both the money and the time for conferences; like right now I've got the money but not the time, next time I have the time I probably will not have the money. Such is life.

    I actually don't agree with the idea of a querry letter review section. It's bound to attract a lot of people who(no offence) only think they know a lot and are really giving bad advice. Then of course you have to factor in that different things take different letters. A genre fiction querry is very different from a non-fiction querry.

    That said, I for one have already read all the tips and gone through all of the how-tos, and short of hiring a professional to actually tell me wtf I'm doing right or wrong, I'm not sure how much more my querry letters can improve. Of course, that has it's own pitfalls, as all of the professionals selling their services that I've found so far specialize in non-fiction, not that helpful for me and my fantasy/sci-fi.
     

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