Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Getting the Personal Bio Right

Penny from Sheffield has had her first magazine article acceptance, but panicked when the editor asked for a short bio. She posed the following question: Should I write about myself in the first or third person? Although most of the bios I’ve seen have been written in third person, it feels a bit weird writing about myself in that way. How long should it be? Also, what should I put in it? This is my first success, so I don’t have much to say.

Firstly, Penny, well done on having your article accepted for publication. The bio should be written in the third person, exactly as you want it to appear in the magazine. As far as length is concerned, if the editor hasn’t specified the number of words, then you should count the words of other bios used in the publication. As a general rule, magazines tend to use bios of about 60 words.

An author bio shows that readers can trust the writer because of their expertise in the field. So, let’s say your article is about witchcraft, but you have no previous writing credits, then mentioning that you come from a long line of witches would more than compensate.

1 comment:

Alex G said...

When my students have asked about this I've advised they don't make it too dry. Yes, readers want to be reassured by the bio, but I also think, if they're moved to read it, they're looking for personality too. Don't be afraid to say something light and fun.
Overseas magazines in my experience tend to want something quirky, funnily enough. I've been asked to name my three favourite possessions in my 'bio'. And once I was asked to relate my bio to my article. The article was on cold/flu prevention, and so I had to concoct something about my eating raw onions to keep the bugs at bay...
Sometimes you've just got to get creative!