Writing Author Bios

I recently wrote and submitted the author bio that’ll be paired with my story “Lost Pine” in Volume 28 of the Writers of the Future anthology.  It was a weird exercise.

First, I was writing about myself and I had to ignore the axiom “never let the facts get in the way of a good story.”  Though from time to time I draw from life experience for characters or setting, I rarely write about myself.  I write fiction.  With fiction, there remains a barrier between me and criticism.  If someone says they don’t like a particular story, well, I can convince myself they just didn’t like the subject matter or the approach I took with that story.  The next story can bowl them over.  It’s not me.  It’s the story.  They aren’t saying they don’t like me.  They aren’t saying I shouldn’t continue writing.  But with an author bio, there is no barrier.  It’s about me.  I’m putting what I want known about myself out there, not what I want known about what I think about things.

I may be blowing the importance of  author bios out of all proportions.  I mean, who reads author bios anyway?  What weight do they really have on readers’ take-away impressions from a particular story, or the take-away impressions about its author?

Author bios are a strange mix of bragging,  journalism, and marketing.  Most just present the facts and evidence of achievement.  So-and-so has published here and there, won such-and-such awards.  Those author bios have their places, with writers who have oeuvres.  For me, I’m just starting out.  My here and there is a short list, my such-and-such awards are few.  In short, my bio isn’t that impressive.  If anything, it communicates potential, what kind of start I got off the blocks.

So with the bio I just wrote, I didn’t want to write a list of facts about my achievements.  Those can reside elsewhere, collected for reference here on this site and scattered across the internet under their respective publication headers.   Any website names or publications I could list carry the potential for fading into obscurity, especially since most are internet sales.   Arguments for the permanency of what appears on the internet aside, I didn’t want my bio, which will appear in paper and hopefully remain in hardcopy format for a long, long time, to date me or my work.  I wanted something a little more timeless than hyperlinks.  I wanted to write a story, a story about why I write, why I write speculative fiction, and why readers should keep an eye on me.

I wrote that.  Then I emailed it to an editor.  Now I wait and see what will make the cut.

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