Tuesday, April 28, 2015

How to write an Author Bio

You've just heard the good news that your dream agent wants your full manuscript. But there is a catch--she wants an author bio as well. Well, if you're JK Rowling, that is a mighty easy job: How does "Author of the most popular series of books in the history of publishing" grab you? Pretty good! The problem is, you are not JK Rowling. You are you, and you are reading this because an author bio was requested and you have no idea what to write.




The issue here isn't really about the writing itself--you are a writer, for heaven's sake--it's the lack of things to write about. If you were the lead correspondent for CNN, you would have written that; if you had ghostwritten three best-selling memoirs, you would have written that; if you were the world's leading expert on human cloning, you would have written that. But just because you are not any of these three things (or a host of others), does not mean you can't write. It does mean you will have work on your Author Bio, however. But there's hope. I have a solution to this issue, a solution which does not involve writing per se. My solution involves doing.

What am I talking about? Let me show you (remember, we're supposed to show, not tell). Here is my first--incredibly lame--author bio, which I wrote three years ago to send to any literary agent who requested it:


Peter Hogenkamp MD, Author Bio
I am a practicing physician and author living in Rutland, Vermont, with my wife and four children. After graduating from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, I lived for three years in Austria, during which time I taught chemistry at the Salzburg International Preparatory School and traveled extensively. I have numerous friends and family in Europe, and my wife and I visit yearly. This past summer, I visited family in Germany, and traveled to Italy and Spain afterwards—Thank you, Ryan Air—to research the second book of The Jesuit series, tentatively called Doubt.

See how I used up all the lines with fluff? (I took lessons from my high school student children--experts in the field!) That's because I had nothing to write. When I finally managed to sign with an agent (who says duct tape is overrated?) she gave me some great advice. Do stuff.

So I did stuff. When it came time to update my author bio three years later, I had stuff to put down, and instead of a liability, my author bio is now an asset. Here is my new one:

Peter Hogenkamp is a physician and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; and The Intern, a serialized novel based loosely on Peter's internship, published bi-weekly on #Wattpad. Peter can be found on his Author Website as well as his personal blog, PeterHogenkampWrites, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the founder and editor of Prose&Cons, the literary blog for readers and writers written by authors, editors, agents, publishers and poets; a frequent contributor and reviewer at ReadWave; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and chief of two tribes on Triberr, The Big Thrill and Fiction Writers. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and four children--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. He can be reached at peter@peterhogenkamp.com or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at liz@kimberleycameron.com

See what I mean? I actually had to cut some stuff out to keep it down to a manageable length. Please note that none of this stuff was beyond anyone's reach, either talent or wallet wise. All it takes is doing. And time, as my wife likes to point out, although the time can be anytime you want it to be. I do most of my stuff early in the morning before my family wakes up; night owls can do it after people are asleep. There is time, believe me; you just have to stop watching TV (unless #GameOfThrones is on.)

I'll end here. Note that what follows is my Author Bio--I use it all the time. Feel free to use some of the ideas I had, but keep one last thing in mind. If you are going to be a Triberr chief, be a good Triberr chief. Don't just do things to put on your resume; do them well and it will pay dividends. (And if anyone wants to contribute to Prose&Cons, message me at peter@peterhogenkamp.com)

Cheers.
:)

Peter Hogenkamp is a physician and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; and The Intern, a serialized novel based loosely on Peter's internship, published bi-weekly on #Wattpad. Peter can be found on his Author Website as well as his personal blog, PeterHogenkampWrites, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the founder and editor of Prose&Cons, the literary blog for readers and writers written by authors, editors, agents, publishers and poets; a frequent contributor and reviewer at ReadWave; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and the chief of two tribes on Triberr, The Big Thrill and Fiction Writers. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and four children--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. Peter is He can be reached at peter@peterhogenkamp.com or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at liz@kimberleycameron.com.