A few of the agents I’m querying want to see a bio. The author’s bio is only about a paragraph long but don’t let its size fool you. Approach with a machete and a stiff upper lip. There will be blood. Who knew introducing yourself could be so hard.
If you’re like me, you get nervous. First, get it all off your chest in one pathetic breath. For example:
After obtaining honors and degrees from fancy institutions Anna Fonté (rhymes with nosegay, deejay, bidet) taught high school English for ten years, then did the math and retired early. (5 classes =160 students @ 2 essays per month = 320 essays @ 4 pages each = 1300 pages per month + thoughtful and helpful comments x school year = impossible ÷ kill me now.) Now I live in Berkeley, CA where I write novels, short stories, poems, personal essays, and accounts of my attempts to befriend the neighborhood crows. I find writing much more interesting than getting published although a few of my stories have found homes online and in print, most recently in ElevenEleven’s issue #12 (due to a rare and precious solicited submission. The bulk of my work will be left as a legacy to my daughters who, despite their young ages, already possess much more savvy and swagger than I ever will). I can always be found at http://www.girlinthehat.com.
Next, slap yourself across the face, one slap per cheek, grab your own shoulders, and shake. Rule #1 (according to friend Helen, who once interned at a literary agency) is “no jokes, no blether.” This is a professional introduction after all, the kind where you shake hands firmly and look them in the eye, this is no kindergarten stand-up where you pick your nose and show them what you found.
So first, slice off all the parts that sound like nervous laughter.
Next, chop off all irrelevant references to classes and courses and jobs unrelated to creative writing.
Cut any mention of things you’ve written unless they’ve been published because that’s just pathetic.
Pull a “Kill Bill” on every reference to your family or children. You wouldn’t bring them to an interview, would you?
Don’t forget to stick in all the literary prizes you’ve been awarded, including writers’ retreats you’ve attended, especially if you won an invitation.
Last, stab all the I’s and speak in the third, not the first, person, because remember, this isn’t personal.
So here’s what’s left:
Anna Fonté’s work has appeared online and in print, most recently in ElevenEleven#12. She taught high school English and now lives in Berkeley, CA.
(Thanks, Jenni for the tip about the large font.)
In summary, your bio is about a person, but it’s not personal. Irony here.
What do you think?
What’s on your bio?