Best of the Blog 2009: MARKETING MATTERS: Bragging Rights and the Author’s Bio

Kathleen Y'Barbo

Blogger: Kathleen Y’Barbo, Publicist

Location: The Woodlands, Texas PR Office

Bragging rights. How many of you cringe when forced to brag about yourself? Count me in your number. There’s something about tooting your own horn that makes the music sound a bit flat, isn’t there? And where else is the requirement to do just that more obvious than in writing your bio?

If you’re a new author, you may not have written your first bio yet. Now is the time to get started. Veteran authors would do well to dust off the old bio and polish up a brand new version. In either case, you’ll find a well-written bio is useful for agent or editor pitches and essential in completing a book proposal.

There are several types of bios. Short, long, and in between, they all serve as your calling card to anyone who might pick up your book or, if you’re unpublished, your proposal. To dash through this exercise of creating a bio is to do a great disservice to your publicity efforts. While bios come in varying lengths, the first one any author needs to craft is the brief bio.

The brief bio is–generally one or two sentences–states who you are, what you write and, if appropriate, the general area where you live. Great examples of this can be found on the backs of most books. Here’s one from my friend Rachel Hauck off the back cover of her novel, Diva NashVegas: “Rachel Hauck lives in Central Florida with her husband and ornery pets.”

Not only does this bio do the trick in a modicum of words, but it also leads to my next point which is writing in voice. What does that mean? It means that a good bio should sound like the person it is describing. Rachel writes sassy, contemporary novels.

Be careful when plotting out the information you give in your brief bio. Notice how Rachel alludes to where she’s from but doesn’t go so far as to give her specific location. If you live in a large urban area, you might be safe in stating the city where you’re located. However, a general idea of where one resides is almost always better than providing a roadmap to your door.

Think about what you write. Does your bio reflect your voice? Next week we will talk about the longer bio, what to put in and what to leave out. In the meantime, I would love to hear your one-sentence bios. Wow me!

37 Responses

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  1. Yvonne Blake says:

    Yvonne Blake lives in Searsport, Maine, a town full of historic houses and salty characters.

  2. “Retired physician, now writing Christian fiction and non-fiction, and working fruitlessly on improving my golf game.”

  3. Teri D. Smith says:

    Teri D. Smith lives in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and tries to keep up with the holidays, quirks, and loyalties of her international family including her Canadian husband and three adopted Bolivian children.

  4. Lynn Dean says:

    Lynn Dean is an empty-nester whose nest is never empty, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. She gets enough peace and quiet on field trips to research her next book.

  5. Lynn Dean says:

    Are you kidding me? I just noticed in the sidebar that it’s 57 degrees in Santa Rosa, CA. It was 108 here Wednesday. I think I need a research field trip to Santa Rosa! Wonder if I could set a book there? πŸ™‚

  6. Genny says:

    Genny lives in California with her husband and two kids, where she balances writing with motherhood and loves both.

  7. Janet Grant says:

    Great bios, everyone! Thanks for sharing them.
    Lynn, the days start out cool in Santa Rosa, often with a dense layer of fog. ‘Round about noon, the sun comes out forcefully, and the day can ramp up to the 90s quickly. Those wine grapes love the hefty temperature swings. We think Santa Rosa is one of the loveliest spots around and is an ideal spot for a novel.

  8. Janet says:

    After raising five children and one husband, Janet came to the obvious conclusion that writing novels was an essential part of the recovery process.

  9. Bonnie Grove says:

    Pet Peeve: (and yes, I made sure my bio didn’t phrase it this way on the back of Talking to the Dead) I dislike the phrasing, “Author lives in Wherever with her husband. . .”

    Um… how nice that you live with your husband. Would you put it on the back of your book that you don’t live with your husband? πŸ™‚

    Just a personal pet peeve. I love the examples people are sharing!

  10. You guys are great! These bios are creative and give a hint of what sort of writing you do. Bravo to those who’ve posted. As to the rest of you, c’mon! Let’s see those bios! It’s only a sentence or two. Show me what you can do.

  11. Deep in the northwoods, Cynthia Ruchti finds a shady corner where she creates stories of “hope that glows in the dark.”

  12. Curt Iles says:

    Curt Iles writes from his home in Louisiana’s piney woods.

    Curt Iles writes and tell stories from his home in Louisiana’s No Man’s Land.

    Which one do you like best?

  13. Rumanian born author of five published novels who’s currently loving life in Florida. Can you spell g.r.a.n.d.c.h.i.l.d.r.e.n?

  14. DeAnna Julie Dodson lives in North Texas where she’s going mad with the heat.

    Okay, that’s not the real one.

    DeAnna Julie Dodson lives in North Texas with three spoiled cats and writes historical romance and mystery novels that invite readers to “step into time . . .”

  15. Jennifer resides in the grace-filled city of Las Vegas with her hubby and teenage son.

  16. Camy Tang says:

    Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. She lives in San Jose, California, where she and her husband are staff workers with the youth group at her church.

  17. Kristie resides in the DC area and writes articles that both inspire and entertain. She aims to give readers a good laugh, often using her own experience as a wife, mother, and all-around imperfect woman as fodder. Her wit and keen observations have been compared to Nora Ephron, but more than just being funny, Kristie’s writing always points to the joy and power of God’s truth lived out in day to day life.

  18. bonnie says:

    Bonnie and her husband Greg live in the back country of Oregon where Bonnie balances her time between writing historical novels and playing with her grandchildren.

  19. bonnie says:

    Heh, heh, heh. A last name might help. That’s Bonnie Leon!

  20. Latayne C. Scott is the award-winning author of hundreds of magazine articles and over a dozen books, published by major Christian publishers such as Zondervan, Moody, Baker, and Word. She is the recipient of Pepperdine University’s Distinguished Christian Service Award for Creative Christian Writing, and makes her home in her native New Mexico.

  21. Short bio:

    James Watkins: author, speaker, threat to society

    Longer bio:

    James Watkins loves God, his family, writing, speaking, and Chinese food–in that order.

  22. Linda Rue says:

    Linda writes what she dreams, what she knows and all about the unseen combining romance, adventure and mystery…..just as soon as the horses are fed, the dogs are settled at her feet and the cats are playing with her cursor!

  23. Le says:

    LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books for children and young adults reflect the variety of cultures in which she has lived.

  24. Crystal Laine Miller,a mostly homespun and thoroughly Hoosier authentic human being, manages four sons and one ER doc husband in her spare time.

  25. Niki Anderson resides in the lush and rugged Pacific Northwest. She writes true stories that portray the nature of cats and reveal the heart of God.

  26. Julie Surface Johnson is a women’s ministry leader who currently writes novels demonstrating the power of positive choices.

  27. Rachel Heston Davis lives in southern Illinois with her husband and two pet rats. She spends her days having adventures on paper with her fictional characters.

  28. This is harder than it first appears! How’s this?

    Kimberley Payne lives in the village of Millbrook, Ontario where she hikes the trails with her 2 kids and dog, leaving her husband at home to watch over the cats, fish and hamster. She writes about family, fitness and faith.

  29. Nikki Hahn says:

    Nikole Hahn is a church secretary, but behind this facade is an outdoor enthusiast who is addicted to Starbucks and writing.

    Really hard to keep it to one sentence. I think I rewrote this five times.


  30. Aimee Laine says:

    I’m a bit behind, but catching up. πŸ™‚ Got connected to your blog in the last week, so this series you have is RIGHT up my alley. In any case, I’m backtracking, but filling in blanks! Thank you for the challenge.

    Romantic at heart, North Carolina transplant, Aimee Laine, writes of challenge and introspection – reflections of her hopes and dreams for the futures of her three children.

  31. Britt says:


    Britt Mitchell lives with her husband and two dogs in beautiful East Tennessee. She has recently admitted to being a hillbilly and is using her backwardness to write fiction.

  32. Lynn Dean says:

    Britt, that’s hilarious! Makes me want to buy anything you write. πŸ™‚

    In scanning previous comments, I had to giggle at Bonnie Grove asking if you’d put it on your book jacket if you DON’T live with your husband. Um…I don’t. He’s a military reservist and has been activated for two years this month. Fortunately he’s stateside and can come home most weekends (about a 4-5 hour drive, bless his heart). On the right romance or military suspense story, it might be interesting to toss that twist into a bio.

    Absence makes the heart grow fonder! πŸ™‚

  33. Ever read something you wrote a month or so ago and wish you hadn’t? Boy, do I hate the short bio I wrote here in a previous comment.


    Latayne C Scott irritates Mormons, provokes and comforts Christians, and just can’t help it.

  34. Bill Giovannetti dreams of the perfect lasagna in Northern California, where he preaches, plays, and writes to convince the world that Christian commitment is less about our commitment to God and more about his commitment to us through Jesus and his wonderful cross.

    Bill Giovannetti
    How to Keep Your Inner Mess from Trashing Your Outer World (Monarch, 2009)

  35. Lillian Hans says:

    Cozy in Colorado, with her husband and two boys, Lillian Hans enjoys reclining under lamplight, blanketed, with a Charles Dickens novel in hand… ah, the simple life.

  36. Jessica Patch says:

    Jessica R. Patch lives in the midsouth where the heat rises, not unlike her cutting edge style of writing contemporary Christian romance.

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