2014 Get Started Write Challenge: Day 6

Today’s task is a simple one: Write your bio in less than 50 words. If you’re new to this, I have more tips below.

Here’s my attempt at a bio:

Robert Lee Brewer is the author of Solving the World’s Problems and Senior Content Editor with the Writer’s Digest Writing Community. He’s married to the poet Tammy Foster Brewer, who helps him keep track of their five little poets (four boys and one princess). Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

Made it in 49 words!

With my bio note, I had to make some decisions about what to include. Here are a few notes about my decisions:

  • Book and job title in first line. By including my book and job titles, I’m illustrating that I take my writing seriously. Nothing more, nothing less.
  • Married with kids. I believe in personalization. Since this bio note will be paired up with my pitch on “How to Be a First-Time Daddy,” I think it’s a better use of space to focus on my five kids than mentioning my other publications, books, blogs, or awards.
  • Follow on Twitter. It doesn’t have to be Twitter. I could include a website or e-mail address. The main thing with the final sentence is that I want to give people an easy way to follow up with me directly. To keep the conversation going.

 

What If I Don’t Have Any Publishing History?

This a common question I’m asked on writing bios. Often, it’s followed up by questions like, “Should I puff up what I have done,” “Should I include unrelated honors,” and/or “Should I lie?”

First off, don’t lie. Never. Ever. Second, it’s better to include relevant information than information that’s not relevant. For myself, I prefer less information to information that’s not relevant as well. Finally, I can usually tell when things are “puffed up,” and it’s always a hurdle for the freelancer pitching me.

If I had no publishing history, here’s how I might change my bio: Robert Lee Brewer has five kids (four boys and a princess). He blogs on parenting and other topics at his personal blog, My Name Is Not Bob (http://robertleebrewer.blogspot.com).

This is 28 words, and that’s okay. If I didn’t have a blog, I might replace the sentence about my blog with the sentence about my Twitter handle. That would put my bio note at 16 words, and that would be completely fine too.

Here’s the thing to remember about bio notes: They can add a little authority (and personality) to the pitch, but editors tend to care more about the pitch than the bio (unless the bio is someone with instant name recognition). And if you try to over-inflate the bio, it can raise red flags for an editor.

If you don’t have anything relevant to say, don’t say anything at all.

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robert_lee_brewer_1Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems. A former Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere, he maintains the Poetic Asides poetry blog. He is married to the poet Tammy Foster Brewer, who does help him keep track of their five little poets (yes, four boys and one princess). He can be followed on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

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Here are the most recent tasks from the Get Started Write Challenge: