Wednesday, January 20, 2010

In just a few words, introduce yourself…

So, who are you?

In 100 words? 50? Can you show me who you are in 30 words or less?

A great tool I created for myself - one that I use at least once a month - is a selection of differing length biographies. In putting together the Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading for Arisia, I was reminded of how few fellow writers have at-hand bios.

But why do you need a bio?

Ok, besides members of Broad Universe I'm including on a Rapid Fire Reading flyer (40-words-or-less, PLEASE; love you!), here are some other places where a ready-made bio will come in handy:

If you publish an article in an magazine or ezine that includes bios of contributors
If you publish a short story/novella/etc. in a magazine or ezine that includes bios of contributors
In any and all cover letters or query letters you send
For your blog
For your Twitter account
For your Facebook
If you are requesting to be a participant at a convention or conference
In case you get covered at an event and can cash in on free advertising
For networking meetings
In advertising
If you donate to a cause and people want to thank you publicly (more free advertising)
For if/when you meet an agent or editor (or someone you want to work with/for) in person

Your bio is written elevator speech that can be used for a 1st-floor stop, or a 21st-floor stop from the basement at Dragon*Con (er, stopping a LONG TIME AT EVERY FLOOR for you non-Dragon*Con readers). If you memorize a few, you have them handy for in-person meetings.

How long should your bio be? Several lengths, actually. I have a document with versions that are 250 words, 100 words, 75 words, 50 words, 40 words, 30 words, and < 140 characters long (I <3 Twitter!) You never know what you will need. I also read them aloud and time them for in-person meetings. (Remember, a good out loud pace is 100-120 words per minute!)

On top of varying lengths, you'll want to have various styles. If I'm at the Downtown Women's Club, my Bad-Ass Faerie and Fantasy Gazetteer credits aren't as appropriate as editing 3 online courses and regularly contributing to certain magazines.

What should be in your bio? What is most important to your audience. For writers: Publication credits. Have you won awards? (If you're writing fiction, talk about your fiction credits first, then non-fiction; if vice-versa, then vice-versa, but you probably already figured that out.) No writing credits? What about related experience? In fact, pick up any article about what to include in your query/cover letter bio and follow those guidelines.

In addition to studying writers' bios, research sales pitches for a different view. I'm a big fan of Copyblogger; I read their blog regularly. And my colleague, Rick Roberge, who I met through the Society of Professional Communicators, has some excellent blog posts, but also sent me to another great blog on the topic (by another great Trish).

Examples? Ok…

Here's my 40-word convention/Rapid-Fire-Reading bio:

Trisha J. Wooldridge's freelance experience ranges from Dungeons & Dragons Online to animal rescue PR. She is published in Bad-Ass Faeries 2: Just Plain Bad (co-authored with Christy Tohara) and Fantasy Gazetteer.

40 on more general writing:

Trisha J. Wooldridge is a freelance writer, editor, and educator. Look for her in the EPPIE award-winning Bad-Ass Faeries 2: Just Plain Bad and Fantasy Gazetteer, as well as horse-handling for Massachusetts Horse or talking food in Worcester Magazine.

For super-quick, general business networking (usually oral):

I'm Trish Wooldridge. As your Novel Friend, I teach you how to love the words you write, and write the words you love.

For longer (oral) introductions:

My name is Trish Wooldridge. I'm a freelance writer, editor, and educator, and my name, A Novel Friend, encompasses the fact I care about each client's words - and that I'm particularly interested in more unusual tasks. My editing projects include the Dugeons & Dragons online role-playing game, novels, and English composition courses. My writing covers weird history, metal and Goth bands, faeries and faery tales, horse rescue, restaurant critiques… and making mushroom merchandising interesting.

(75 words, clocking in at about 40 seconds).

Make sure write your bio in a style that matches your personality - because that's part of SHOWING, which is what we good writers are supposed to do anyway - right? What kind of person do I sound like in these bios?

So, take a few minutes to write yourself some bios of varying lengths - and practice them OUT LOUD.

I shared some of my bios - what are yours?


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