The Dreaded Bio

Comments: 3

Today, in the Query Tracker Blog, Elana Johnson has an excellent posting about the dreaded bio.

I've read a lot about the need for a short bio in a query letter. It should highlight your writing experience or credentials. But what do you do if you really have nothing to brag about? I have no publishing credits, at least not yet. I'm not a member of any prestigious writing associations. I'm not an expert in any field related to the subject matter. So what do I write?

There are two kinds of bios we writers need to be concerned with. The short paragraph, in the query letter, and the longer one sometimes asked for separately, often along with a synopsis and sample chapters.

Here's some examples of both:

Short, query letter, version:

I grew up in the town and era in which this novel is set. I currently work as an environmental biologist writing technical reports, and use fiction writing as my therapy from boredom.

Longer version:

Paul West is a freelance writer and novelist. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Paul claims to be a "Prune Picker," though he now makes his home in West Jordan, Utah.

The rustic San Francisco Bay Area countryside, the quaint small town he grew up in, and the colorful people who once lived there, have all teamed to fertilize his ever-churning mind with stories that are yearning to be told.

From his earliest days in high school, his English teachers saw some raw writing ability in him, both for fiction and non-fiction, and urged him to pursue his dream of being a writer. In college his creative writing professors also encouraged him to mold his ability into a talent.

After settling on a career as an environmental biologist, where he’s written numerous technical publications, the stories swarming through his mind kept crying to get out. So Paul began writing fiction, but only as a hobby at first. He has recently finished his first novel, SWEET REVENGE, and is close to finishing his second, GERTA! Paul intends to keep letting his stories out through future novels.

Paul is a member of several writing and critique groups including Authors by Design, Writers Pen, Query Tracker, Children's Writer's & Illustrator's, Utah Children’s Writers, among others. In addition to his writing, he and his wife, enjoy spending time with their four children and six grandchildren, gardening, reading, and researching their family history.
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About Paul West

Paul West is a freelance writer and novelist. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Paul claims to be a "Prune Picker," though he now makes his home in Taylorsville, Utah.

You can follower him on Twitter: @PaulWWest

Published: Wednesday, January 06, 2010

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  1. I think your bios look great, Paul. Thanks for the linkage, too!

  2. Nice site from a children author of Concord, Ca a few towns away

    William sawyers

  3. Hi William,

    I appreciate your compliment. I need to update it (a lot). I just don't have time to work on it.

    So, you live in Concord. Great. I used to live in California and miss it terribly.

    I looked over your web site and I'm impressed. Good luck in promoting your work.