Writing the Author Bio is painful

all about meCHILDREN START WITH HUGE EGOS – ARE TAUGHT TO BE MODEST

Edited 1/17/17 (see end).


I have been struggling with a stupid task I thought I’d already accomplished and would merely have to revisit for a quick update before any more ad campaigns: having an ‘Author Bio.’

I don’t know how it is in traditional publishing, whether authors are now required to write their own bio in third person and send it in, along with a ‘professionally edited’ manuscript they’ve paid to have edited, but the big attraction was always that someone would interview you, tell you you were being way too modest, extract all kinds of interesting bits from you (thus allowing you to remain officially modest), and write something up that made you sound much more interesting that you are.

Until you could replace the whole thing with the fact that you are now famous and a list of your accomplishments as long as, well, whatever.

Once OTHER people have conferred interesting-ness on you, you can act modest and even bashful, and still wow consumers into buying whatever it is you produce.

In these days when indies have dumped gatekeeping and vetting from outside, and have learned to speak of their own work in public, and say that it’s good and persuade you to read it – the other part, writing your own ad copy, is also hard – we now find ourselves in exactly the position our parents would not want us to be in: praising ourselves.

The resulting bios, from absent (coward or busy or not realizing you need to have one) to whimsical to dry to boastful, have been instructive. And the samples online, ‘How to write your author bio,’ have been equally ludicrous.

About vs. Author Bio

You are allowed, nay, expected, to be whimsical on the About page of your own blog. Mine is a mixture of things about me which might appeal to someone – but they are just a random bunch of facts and factoids, things which are individually true or illustrative.

Many of the people who read your About page become online friends.

But the Author Bio on your books’ site – and the Author page on Amazon or your Goodreads Author Profile – is a different beast. It is for strangers.

It is supposed to represent you as a SERIOUS WRITER.

It is something which could be on the back flap of your hardcover traditionally-published FICTION, written by that (possibly fictitious) publicist/copywriter.

It’s a grownup thing.

Writing the REAL Author Bio is PANIC TIME

I can’t tell you how long it’s been on the list, because I thought I had done it, so AT LEAST since October 2015, and probably longer, this task.

Here’s a note to myself from 2013: “I come from the tradition that says the author is the least relevant part of the book, once it’s out.”

I have To Do lists with ‘check Author Bio’ on them, as you’re supposed to revisit your Amazon Author Page periodically and tweak it. I have resisted that tweaking mightily for a very good reason: I’m afraid if I touch ANYTHING on the materials submitted when I posted ebook and print versions, it will lead Amazon to review my materials – and possibly decide I’ve done something wrong and cause all manner of delays in getting it back up.

I didn’t ask anyone about that fear, because it is my experience that fear doesn’t survive information, and I DIDN’T WANT TO DO IT.

But I have this ad campaign coming up, and a To Do list specifically to be ready for it, and so many things causing me angst on it, that I decided this is it, the ‘write Author Bio’ was THE next task, and that I would not go on to another task on that To Do list until it was done, because bouncing around from item to item is getting me nowhere but even more confused.

The actual writing of the Author Bio took seven days

The current method – stick with one item until it’s done or the ad is past and there’s nothing you can do about it – started on June 16, 2016.

A usable (up for comments, so feel free) one was produced today by yours truly. 332 words for the long version, and a shortie of 72 words.

If you’ve gone through the process, you know. If not, I don’t think I can make you feel the pain sufficiently.

I have been facing this, putting it front and center as other things had to be dealt with, not moving on to the many other things I need to do (a handwritten list of twenty items, many with subparts), for SEVEN DAYS.

It’s been so bad that I started writing a new book – titled PAPER BRAIN for now – about how to use a damaged brain and still manage to GET SOMETHING DONE. Waiting for ‘good time’ not required if even half-functional. I kept throwing every bit of time – good, semi-good, and non-functional at the task – and getting nowhere.

Brain fog rampant. Inability to make decisions foremost. Whole worldview exposed.

Today I figured out how to break the logjam

In desperation at all the flopping about, lack of decision-making capability, and sheer angst, I found the right question.

I couldn’t write my Author Bio. Why? Because of all the stuff I started this post with.

But,

How about writing the bio I WISH I had?

As if I WERE someone else.

As if life had gone the way I planned it to, more or less.

As if all those details had happened.

I am ashamed of being who I am instead of who I always planned to be, and have been hoping to go back to. So someone could write a bio about me and put it on the books I always planned to write.

I finally realized it has never been up to me, not the final outcome: life is what happens while you’re making other plans.

Here it is, finally, shorn of angst and agita:

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt is a former researcher and computational physicist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and the Johns Hopkins U. Applied Physics Laboratory. She holds a BS in physics from Seattle U., and an MS and PhD in Nuclear Engineering from the U. Wisconsin-Madison. A minor problem with her right eye kept her from fulfilling her ambition as an astronaut.

A voracious reader since beginning to read at three, she had always intended to write fiction, and, now retired, dedicates her whole life – when not spending time with her husband, family, and chinchilla – to exploring the concepts of integrity in relationships, and the psychological questions of why people do what they do and make the choices they make, including their life partners.

A homeschooler by accident when illness derailed her working life’s plan, her life-long dedication to the sciences aided in the development of three STEM children with a love of language.

She has dedicated the past twenty some years to learning to write to the standards of the early classics she was steeped in, as she believes that messages in fiction must be surrounded by the utmost in quality entertainment, and that fiction is the most powerful tool we have to slipping through the barriers we put up around our hearts and our minds.

As a writer, she’s published traditionally in short story. She’s been featured on Wattpad, where her story Too Late has received 63.7K reads, and where her debut novel Pride’s Children: PURGATORY was serialized and currently has 19.7K reads.

When she’s not writing, you can find her enjoying the hummingbirds in her garden of perennials designed for them, or singing.

She is hard at work on the next novel in the Pride’s Children trilogy, working title NETHERWORLD, scheduled for publication later this year. Follow her on Amazon or at prideschildren.wordpress.com to be informed when her next story is available.

Discover more about her opinionated opinions and quirky writing methods on her writing blog, at liebjabberings.wordpress.com.

With the short version:

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt is a former researcher and computational physicist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.

A voracious reader, she had always intended to write fiction, and, now retired, dedicates her whole life – when not spending time with her husband, family, and chinchilla – to exploring the concepts of integrity in relationships, and the psychological questions of why people do what they do and make the choices they make, including their life partners.

This is me, folks. What will go out there in public for those who don’t know me, who haven’t earned the details by knowing me personally or reading this blog.

Comments of all kind especially welcome – it’s so much easier to change things at this point.


1/17/17 Update:

As always happens with these things, I updated, and then I visited recently, and didn’t like it. The content was fine, but I realized that, as a READER, I would want to know things in a different ORDER, because I wouldn’t care about the writer’s credentials and history (because I am not a famous person), but about whether she could WRITE.

All I had to do to have it work much better for me was to rearrange so that items of interest to me as a READER came first; then, if someone wants to continue reading about the rest of my life and times, they can.

Here’s the current version:

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt is hard at work on the next novel in the Pride’s Children trilogy, working title NETHERWORLD, scheduled for publication later this year.

Follow her on Amazon or at PridesChildren.com to be informed when her next story is available.

As a writer, she’s published traditionally in short story. She’s been featured on Wattpad, where her story Too Late has received 66K reads, and where her debut novel Pride’s Children: PURGATORY was serialized and currently has over 20K reads.

A voracious reader since beginning to read at three, she had always intended to write fiction, and, now retired, dedicates her whole life – when not spending time with her husband, family, and chinchilla – to exploring the concepts of integrity in relationships, and the psychological questions of why people do what they do and make the choices they make, including their life partners.

She has devoted the past twenty-some years to learning to write to the standards of the early classics she was steeped in, as she believes that messages in fiction must be surrounded by the utmost in quality entertainment, and that fiction is the most powerful tool we have for slipping through the barriers we put up around our hearts and our minds.

A homeschooler by accident when illness derailed her working life’s plan, her career-long commitment to the sciences aided in the development of three tech-oriented children with a love of language.

She is a former researcher and computational physicist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and the Johns Hopkins U. Applied Physics Laboratory. She holds a BS in physics from Seattle U., and an MS and PhD in Nuclear Engineering from the U. Wisconsin-Madison. A minor problem with her right eye kept her from fulfilling her ambition as an astronaut.

When she’s not writing, you can find her enjoying the hummingbirds in her garden of perennials designed for them, or singing.

Discover more about her opinionated opinions and quirky writing methods on her writing blog, at liebjabberings.wordpress.com.

What say you?

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41 thoughts on “Writing the Author Bio is painful

  1. Janice Wald

    Hi,
    I know Sally, Annette, Debbie, Chris, Bun…
    I am putting together my first e-book. I need to send my publisher my bio. I have never written an Ebook before and don’t know what to write. Your post was very timely. Thank you. Bookmarking.
    Janice

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Welcome – and congratulations.

      The bio is, well, an interesting exercise.

      I’m not even sure I’m finished with mine – do I really want to start the way I did, or should the part about school be the last bit?

      It doesn’t matter – but it does.

      Good luck with yours – hope it helps.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  2. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

    YAY! – it’s done! I paid attention to everyone’s feedback (thanks!) and comments and proofing (thanks, Jessica).

    It’s on my Amazon Author Page (amazon.com/author/alicia.butcher.ehrhardt), my Goodreads page (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14584458.Alicia_Butcher_Ehrhardt), and the PridesChildren.wordpress.com site’s About page (https://prideschildren.wordpress.com/about/). Each of these places has slightly different formatting, because, for example, Amazon uses only plain text. No biggie.

    I will produce a short version where necessary, adding or subtracting or emphasizing particular details for the place it’s required.

    I rearranged the order of things a bit. And it is good enough. Like the dentist, it should be revisited periodically.

    Did anyone else get theirs done? Do tell – and provide a link.

    Liked by 1 person

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  3. Janna G. Noelle

    Whoa – I’m late to this party, it would seem. Good job pushing past your conditioning and getting your bios sorted.

    I wonder how much of it is generational, this idea of not “bragging” about oneself; somehow, it doesn’t strike me as a problem the average Millennial would face (which is in no way criticizing Millennials). I got a bit of this same messaging in my childhood as well, but while in university, I had a great career counsellor who constantly emphasized the importance of selling oneself, both in their resume and on job interviews. Because of this, I feel I’ve mostly been broken of the modesty habit, and good riddance to it. I may not have any concrete publication credits as yet, but I am still a writer, and as such, can write a compelling story around anything, even if it’s essentially just to say, “not yet, keep waiting”.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Welcome to the party – it seems to have hit a nerve, and I never thought of it being generational.

      My mother was very surprised once when I told her, as a grownup, that I felt I had never satisfied whatever it was she expected of me. She said, “But I told all my friends how wonderful you were!”

      Too little, too late, and in the wrong direction. Let your kids know, and it will give them a big head.

      Hers was the wartime generation, bringing up their children to be good citizens in the even of another war – they are the ones who had rationing during the war, and maybe they were leery of rearing children who wouldn’t do their duty. But it is a thing, and we older writers have that legacy.

      Remember, also, that women were expected to stay home! We did a lot of exploring, my generation, in the 70s – which meant we also went into fields where men were used to ruling the roost. You kept your head down.

      I’m not sure I’m comfortable with your ‘good riddance.’ Bragging is not good, and self-confidence is important, and a bit of modesty isn’t bad – maybe that’s why people think millenials think they are entitled. Or act like it. Someplace in between will be good – the bios will be different in the future.

      Whatever the causes and reasons, the Author Bio is in transition like everything else.

      It is still a writing sample, and an attitude sample, even in third person and about yourself.

      For now, try to figure out what your audience expects to see in that text box. Or suit yourself – but be prepared for some not to like it. Your guess is as good as mine right now.

      Do you have yours ready? I’d love to see what you’ve written.

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      1. Janna G. Noelle

        I put “bragging” in quotations because, yes, in the dictionary sense of the word, it is unseemly. However I don’t consider it bragging to give a true and contextual account of one’s skills and accomplishments, even if done with a view to impress and achieve personal gain, just because some segments of society, be it past or present, feel that “nice people shouldn’t”. I suspect you agree with me on this point, for your bio includes many impressive achievements.

        The fact remains that people who have a clear sense of their abilities and aren’t afraid to sell themselves generally succeed better in Western society than those who, for whatever reason, are overly modest. Imposter Syndrome holds may talented people back from reaching their full potential, which does neither themselves nor the world who is then deprived of their talents any favours. They say that more women experience Imposter Syndrome than men, so rather than generational (or perhaps in addition to it), maybe this notion of “don’t toot your own horn” is felt more keenly by women as well.

        I’ve written a short bio for my day job but as yet not an author’s bio. As you say, I need to figure out the sort of story my audience wants to hear about me. I hadn’t given it too much thought since, technically, I’m not an author yet, but this post of yours has started the wheels slowly turning in my head.

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        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          Good to start thinking – it’s part of the ‘author’ package that you’re putting together.

          Sometimes it’s just nuance, but women have been traditionally given less slack: he’s forthright, she shoots her mouth off; he’s assertive, she’s a bitch – I think that’s why I couldn’t watch MadMen.

          It’s a great world for you to be writing in, but don’t take the gains for granted as some young women do. They have to be fought for every generation, every walk past a construction site, every boardroom meeting – we owe it to OUR children, sons AND daughters, to head toward something a bit better than stereotypes.

          I had Imposter Syndrome very bad; then I published. I did it anyway, but there are a lot of entries in my Fear Journal. I found if I wrote them down, they started to get repetitive – but they also lost a lot of their power. I may not be fast, but I CAN write. And I did do it, the epublishing tasks.

          Hard, yes. So? Keep at it – you’ll get there. And I can say that because you haven’t been able to give up the writing bug. You have stories to tell no one else even knows.

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        2. Janna G. Noelle

          I couldn’t watch Mad Men either. It struck me as a bit too self-congratulatory about the misogyny it was portraying. If I’m going to expose myself to that, it needs to be for some instructive purpose beyond just pseudo-entertainment.

          So don’t worry – I’m not taking anything for granted. The work I do for a living is intimately connected with women’s equality and intersectional and anti-oppressive paradigms, so I fight that fight every day. Also in my writing: art necessarily imitates life, so I can’t help but have societal issues that trouble me seep into my stories.

          Plus, I’m really not that young anymore, so I have no excuse not to know better.

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  4. Bun Karyudo

    I liked your bio. I thought it managed to strike the right balance of being impressive and amusing at the same time, but didn’t come across as insufferably big-headed. I take your point, though, about bios being easier when somebody else wrote them.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      That may be the only remaining function of big pub: to distance the author from the author bio.

      Almost worth the royalty split.

      Oh, and thank you. I haven’t minded the other jobs quite as much; they were just work. Bios are, oddly enough, personal. And your family and friends who know you might read them. Fraught.

      Liked by 1 person

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  5. Pearl Kirkby

    This post, as well as the comments following it, address one of the most unnerving issues that I’ve heard faces a vast number of authors/writers. It reflects my own fears so well that, so far, in the past half hour, I’ve read it over 4 times.

    Because writing an official author bio is so scary, challenging and, dare I say it, unnatural (to those of us who WERE taught not to allow ego to become too obvious), it is definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried to do – far more difficult than writing a novel, even as a follow-up to an existing story! I have been and done so many things, and ALMOST accomplished many more, that I find it near to impossible to focus on (or even decide upon) the most relevant, to form into a compact package; leaving out even one of those experiences and ‘goals reached’ almost seems disloyal to myself!

    Perhaps it’s because I look at a bio as a means to ‘explain myself’, rather than an objective list of core accomplishments? I don’t know.

    Even though you seem to have come to the right spot in your writing career and have given a wonderful tutorial, per se, it still petrifies me to even make a start. I almost feel that Mama, bless her ‘gone on’ heart, is looking over my shoulder and saying, “What have I told you about blowing your own horn? If you do things right, others will blow it for you…(shaking finger, frowning…looking far larger than her 5’2″ frame)”!

    Still, that template you provided is a great start. I will give that a go…

    …right after I read this post again!

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I see an indie niche here: someone who send you a horribly long questionnaire (which you fill out by sheer exhaustion), and sells you back your own information in a bio.

      On the other hand, maybe that’s too fraught!

      I GIVE YOU PERMISSION.

      There. Did that help?

      As I tell most people, me being the slowest writer on the planet (don’t argue): “If I can do it, you can do it.”

      I will finish it today, because I have a Kindle Countdown Deal (0.99) starting tomorrow and I want it up there.

      Have you looked at the bios of books which are your competition? Some traditional, some indie? They all had the same problem. And none of their bios are perfect.

      Liked by 1 person

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    2. J.M. Ney-Grimm

      Perhaps it’s because I look at a bio as a means to ‘explain myself’, rather than an objective list of core accomplishments?

      Really it isn’t either. It’s marketing that tells an entertaining story about you. Most readers won’t ever read it. Some will read it after they’ve read your fiction. A tiny minority will read it and be persuaded by it to check out your books.

      Liked by 2 people

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      1. Pearl Kirkby

        You know something? You’re absolutely right! Most of the time, I may glance at a bio, just to see the ‘who’, but don’t actually read or look up a bio until after I’ve read the book! Many, many thanks to both of you!!

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  6. Pingback: Writing the Author Bio is painful | the old fossil writes

  7. Jennifer

    It’s never easy to write about yourself: what do you include? what might others find interesting? which (of many) potential audiences do you target?
    I wonder how many people read author bios. I do for non-fiction (credentials are important) and I’ll certainly read any bio an author provides. And now I want to know what ‘STEM children’ are? I like both versions, Alicia. I learned some things about you that I didn’t know, and am in awe of your skills.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I had the same question from British friends. STEM means Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and is used of careers and schools. Caltech is a STEM school, for example. My husband was the physics and chemistry teacher at a STEM high school.

      It means my kids never had a chance. Between genes and environment, science stuff was always available and considered interesting (we were the family that stopped at every science museum on every vacation). Well presented, science is fascinating, especially to kids.

      I have to think. I may replace it with techie, nerd, or geek – those may have wider recognition in the world. Or I may leave it – and let curious people (very few) google it. Don’t know yet.

      You never know what may attract someone, even if it doesn’t really work as a writing credential (I don’t have those). They may say to someone that I’m serious about my work – to another that I couldn’t possibly be any good at fiction, since I trained as a hard scientist (does hard have the same implication where you are – as the opposite of ‘soft’ or ‘squishy’ sciences like biology, and pseudo-sciences (watch me get in trouble for that one) like sociology or psychology or medicine.

      There isn’t much I didn’t toss in there! Amazon space is ad space for yourself – the point is to use it all to give the reader more information to make a decision.

      Don’t be in awe – skills are useless if you don’t have the energy to use them. But they were useful when it came to teaching kids the basics. We had fun.

      Liked by 2 people

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  8. Widdershins

    Maybe put the second last paragraph in second place. It’s what you’re currently working on, and fits quite well after the bit with your eye … which is an excellent hook, by the way. 😀

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Thank you, dear friend. A good idea.

      Interestingly enough (to me), my whole life has been determined by that childhood ambition to be an astronaut. I was growing up in Mexico at the time, and I was your typical ugly duckling – large, tall, blonde next to my cute little Mexican classmates (who were also way more socialized, especially toward growing up and landing a mate and becoming like their mothers, only more so and better – this was the 1960s, and Mexico is still behind social mores here, so don’t judge).

      I was also bright and interested in math and already spoke English. So I was definitely out of place (my four younger sisters were psychological a better fit – they are all doing that still).

      I chose to tell everyone I would be studying physics (the hardest thing I could think of – which got me a lot of headshakes and special status as ‘the eldest Butcher daughter, the weird one’). Nuclear Physics (rather than plasma physics, where I ended up, but that part’s not relevant).

      And then I found out about astronauts when American men stepped on the moon – and I was hooked.

      I quickly realized I had a long hard job ahead of me. One of the paths to astronaut status was to be a scientist (I’d never make jock – and those pilots are very special, mostly military). There was no way we could afford for me to learn to fly, either. But I could and did study physics, at the National Autonomous U. of Mexico, and, when there were student riots, and my parents go me out of the country to finish college, I ended up doing physics at SU. But I KNEW a BS was useless, and took advantage of a helpful moment by a professor (long story there we won’t go into now) who called up Dr. Max Carbon at UWM when he read in the paper that UW had gotten a large grant to do fusion research.

      I was female – there weren’t many of us. If I wanted to be an astronaut, I KNEW I needed a PhD. I had acceptable GRE scores (which I have no idea how I got, because nobody told me you were supposed to prep for tests like that – I’d never had a standardized test), and man to man, my papers were sent quickly, and I became a UW grad student. No detailed study – just knowing I did NOT want to go back to Mexico, live at home until someone married me, and teach physics somewhere. Oh, and the physics at UW was reasonably fun. Though I never got included in a study group – the way most grad students survive. Odd even there.

      Once there, the only woman in all my classes, I somehow survived. Long story shortened a bit: I made the first cut the first time the astronaut selection process was opened after I graduated, and was invited to a challenging week in Houston (married by then, too), and someone told me I was considered a good candidate. And then it all crashed because my right eye wasn’t good enough.

      Life plan halted. Redirect. No way to change their minds (they were horrified at the very idea of radial keratotomy, and of course at that point there was no lasik – which I don’t know if they even accept now). We went to JHUAPL. Three years later, I finagled a trip to Wisconsin for a conference (knowing my options at APL were not good – professional, middle manager, upper manager, retiree), accepted a job at Princeton, and another right angle turn to the path, back to computational physics, a subspecialty I sort of developed at APL.

      Writing was in my retirement plan – or free time plan – or whatever, all along. So when I got sick, I slowly started to learn to do that after the kids were no longer quite as young, and here we are.

      Wanting to be an astronaut has affected my whole life. I just didn’t make it – as many people didn’t. But it drove me.

      It only seemed fair to mention it in the bio.

      Liked by 1 person

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      You can go whimsical – “I write even though I have not a single credential for it” is a good start.

      I doubt you’re painfully uninteresting. I just don’t have the time to dig it out of you. You have so many things you do – AND you write well.

      Try harder! At your age, my self-confidence wasn’t as developed; I’m reaching the desperation point on some of these things. Which provides some degree of clarity – and reminds me I’m not likely to develop a third career here, so get on with it.

      Whatever you do, though, few will question it as much as YOU do (especially if you’re an introvert like me).

      There is no ‘fraud police’ for writing.

      Liked by 4 people

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  9. adeleulnais

    A great idea to write your bio as if you were looking in rather then being the author. I`m going to try this, offline of course. lol my self praise meter hardly registers I`m going to have to feed it or else my bio will just my name and nothing else.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      That’s what I’m talking about. Our capacity for praising OURSELVES in public is almost non-existent!

      And yet a bio ISN’T praise. Unless you’re into Baron Munchausen-like self-aggrandizement, a bio merely reflects the more salient points of the TRUTH.

      But it is trumpeting your wonderfulness, and doing it in public, and we’re reared not to.

      An easy remedy would be to get someone else to write it about you, for you. But then you’d have to tell that person those salient points. Catch-22!

      My advice: pretend you’re an expensive publicist assigned by a big publishing company to do this job for one of their best authors – and see what you can come up with. Then decide if you want to tone it down a bit. I’m still accumulating input – then I’ll do some editing and cleaning up – and it’s done.

      Love your email address, BTW.

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  10. serendipitydoit

    If I love a book I’ll try to find out as much as I can about an author. When I joined Word Press, your blog was one of the first I stumbled upon, and something in your bio must have appealed to me. Of course I’m impressed with your scientific background, maybe even a bit intimidated, but I’m more interested in your humour and your thoughts on life. At least you didn’t write, ‘loves coffee and chocolate, or wine…’ I’ve seen that so many times. And that reminds me, I must write an author’s bio too; maybe I should take it more seriously.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I’m proud of the scientific background. I had to fight hard, as a girl growing up in Mexico, to be allowed to like science – it wasn’t much valued in girls. And it represents years of work. I’m glad I got to use it for the time I did – and that I didn’t lose it completely when I became incapable of keeping much in my head. It is a background, though, that takes keeping up – and I haven’t been able to do that.

      I’m not putting it in now to be intimidating – more to not deny that it’s part of me.

      I read Colleen McCullough’s biography on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Colleen-McCullough/e/B000AQ752U/), and her obituary when she died. She was an amazing scientist before she started writing fiction – and her obituary caused tsunamis when some NYT writer did not give her the respect she deserved, something that happens way too commonly to women. Another in that vein – that started by saying she made a mean stroganoff or some such nonsense – was a rocket scientist I knew, Yvonne Brill (http://www.newyorker.com/news/amy-davidson/yvonne-brill-and-the-beef-stroganoff-illusion). To make things worse, both women were heavyset in their later years, and the fat-shaming was amazing, considering their multifaceted talents.

      Hiding their accomplishments only perpetuates this.

      Here’s something that might help:

      David Hadley on Goodreads gave me this template, but said he didn’t know where he got it.

      Possibly it could help you get started?

      Your turn! Fill in the prompts:
      {Your name here} wants to live in a world where {describe the kind of world you want to live in}.
      As a {your job title here}, {he’s / she’s} been {spotlighted / featured / showcased / honored / applauded} on {list of blogs / websites / podcasts / theaters / art galleries / places that have recognized or shared your work}.
      When {he’s / she’s} not {describe whatever your normally do}, you can find {him / her} {describe whatever you do when you’re not doing … that}.
      {His / Her} {first / next / latest / recently-released} {book / program / project / collaboration} — {title of your new and cool thing} — hits {the shelves / airwaves / silver screen / internet / an inbox near you} on {date}.
      {Discover / learn / explore / find out} how to {describe whatever you help people to do} at {your website here}.

      Filling in the blanks was a start.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  11. Cynthia Reyes

    My strong, definitive choice is based on this strong, definitive answer: it depends.
    (Stop throwing that object at me!)
    It really depends on where you plan to use it. Three points here:
    1: The short version is great. However, I’m missing info about your writing success, your next novel and your family. Shorten those references and put them back in. They speak to your strength as a writer and tell us you are human.
    2: Your blog can be a link or a line by itself.
    3: I don’t need more than one or two sentences about your scientific background. However, directly relate your background –and engagingly so — to your books, and I might change my mind.
    My best to you. I know how hard it is to write these things.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      There are two aims in indie: what your public wants – and what you are and want.

      You have to satisfy BOTH.

      Thank goodness you don’t also have to satisfy an agent, an editor, a publisher.

      It does carry the responsibility of thinking these things out and doing you own work. It’s been fun to exercise the options.

      And many thanks for the suggestions; I will write a medium length version, too.

      Liked by 1 person

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      1. Cynthia Reyes

        You are very welcome. And by sharing your two versions with us, you cause other authors to reflect on what we should write. Thank you. But I don’t want you to lose the good stuff about yourself or your writing, so just don’t shorten it too much, okay??

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        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          I wasn’t planning to shorten much, but some places – for other purposes – want a shorter bio, and I figured I should take the plunge and create both at the same time.

          The long version goes on the books’ site, Amazon, and Goodreads. The About here stays whimsical (only people who read my writing blog, and only some of them, will see it).

          The shortest version – and anything in between – will be available for whatever writing I do in the future (I have some planned), fiction and nonfiction.

          I just had to DO it.

          Liked by 2 people

  12. J.M. Ney-Grimm

    I hear you on the pain of the author bio. It was one of the first things Dean made us do when I attended his Think Like a Publisher workshop in July 2012. I’ll admit that I’ve merely tweaked that one over the years, and it still forms the basis of what appears in the back of my books and on my Amazon author page.

    I like both your long version and your short. Thumbs up and three cheers!

    I think I saw a typo in the long version:

    “…and that fiction is the most powerful tool we have to slipping through the barriers…”

    Did you mean:

    “…and that fiction is the most powerful tool we have for slipping through the barriers…”

    Or:

    “…and that fiction is the most powerful tool we have to slip through the barriers…”

    I’ll admit that the repetition of “dedicate” – appearing in paragraphs 2 and 4 – also bugged me.

    “…and, now retired, dedicates her whole life – when not spending time with her husband, family, and chinchilla – to exploring the concepts of integrity…”

    “She has dedicated the past twenty some years to learning to write to the standards of the early classics she was steeped in…”

    But these are nits. 😀 I think both your bios are awesome!

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Thanks so much for your astute comments – and proofing. I will fix all that.

      I think I got to the ‘this step of this task has to be done’ stage.

      I put it up on a Goodreads group, too – I expect to incorporate any suggestions I like – and then put this up everywhere necessary, and move on to the NEXT impossible task.

      Liked by 1 person

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      1. linesoflisteningblog

        Say it the way you want it to be. Then fit yourself right into the mold that you have made for yourself. That’s a great way to write a bio. Even though it will need a re-write, the log-jam that was blocking your creative writing has been blasted away.

        Liked by 2 people

        Reply
  13. Catana

    Honestly, I just don’t get why an author’s bio is so important. Why the heck would I want to read anything about an author until I’ve read their book? And how often does the book make me want to know something about the autho? Not very d—ed often. I’d call your short version just right, if you really think you have to do the darned thing. I hate that you’re driving yourself crazy and expending so much energy on the stupid thing.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Because you don’t want red flags IF you are trying to attract a particular kind of audience, and the other potential audiences don’t care.

      For a CFS blog, for example, I’d add something about having that for 27 years. It’s my credentials to that group.

      Etc.

      But the Amazon one is the one for the general audience who lands there – if they care to check. If you don’t sell on Amazon, you don’t need one there.

      99% of the time it won’t matter.

      Liked by 1 person

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