When you approach journalists, television and radio producers, bloggers, reviewers and basically anyone that may help promote your book and your writing, you need to have an already prepared promotional kit at the ready to give to them. As the world of media is super fast paced, you need to be able to respond to any media requests rather quickly, otherwise the journalist, editor or producer will move on to someone who is quicker to respond. One of the most crucial things that should be included in your promotional kit is your bio. To be precise, not just one bio but TWO: one that is about fifty words and one that is about 200 words.
Make sure they are both in the third person and up to date so they are ready to go immediately, should the need arise to use them.
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It also goes without saying that your bio should be interesting. This is a great time to pull on your unique selling point. What did you do before you became a writer? There are quite a hefty chunk of us who had a former life before we went to the dark side of writing. You want to capture the interesting stuff, particular that change or diversion in your life – especially if it’s radical. Exploit the unusual!
Here’s an example of a great selling point (relevant to writing) to include in a bio:
John was a biochemical engineer until a mild heart attack forced him to reassess his life and he moved to Tanzania and wrote by candle light every night for forty days straight.
Other things that your larger bio should include are:
- any major literary achievements and publications (if there are many, bring focus to the most publicised, well known and influential)
- your tertiary education background, even if it unrelated to writing
- if you teach/mentor writing in some formal capacity
- your “day job” and city/town you live in, if relevant. This should form the last sentence of your bio as it may be of least importance (when sending out in a general capacity).
Here is an example of a well constructed bio:
Michael Cunningham is the author of the novels A Home at the End of the World, Flesh and Blood, The Hours (winner of the Pen/Faulkner Award & Pulitzer Prize), The Snow Queen, Specimen Days, and By Nightfall, as well as the non-fiction book, Land’s End: A Walk in Provincetown. His new book, A Wild Swan and Other Tales (illustrated by Yuko Shimizu) will be published in November 2015. He is a Senior Lecturer at Yale and lives in New York.