How to Write an Unimpressive Author Bio

Before I began to think seriously about writing, it hadn’t occurred to me that the ultra-flattering, commanding write-ups on the back of the books and in magazines were written by the author. Now that I know that, I’m uncomfortable. The idea of writing my own bio freaks me right out.

Sure, I think that I’m an interesting person with interesting interests, but I don’t want to be the one to tell you about them.

I’ve had to write an author bio exactly three times and each one was a disaster.

The main problem is that I don’t have a long list of publications to lean on to make me sound legitimate. If  I were to rely on publication, my bio would look like this:

The résumé style:

E.A. Hand is a Canadian science fiction writer who has written two, novels, the first of which, no one in their right mind would even send out. Her short fiction has appeared in Front magazine, a magazine that she also worked for. She has worked as executive editor of circulations at Prism International magazine, but she quit because she hated it. She sometimes edits brochures for a macrobiotic food company in Los Angeles because the writer’s first language is Japanese and so translating the translation inspires laughing fits that are worth far more than what they pay her.

Some authors side step the bio problem by mentioning things about themselves that are completely unrelated to writing or their project. There are many reasons to do that. You might be a nobody or you might be so much of a somebody that only Amish people don’t know who you are. Or you are a nobody, pretending to be a somebody who is pretending to be a nobody to affect modesty. Mine would sound something like this (somehow it’s even more boring than the résumé-style):

The writer next door style:

E.A. Hand is a Vancouverite to the core. She enjoys long walks on the beach, in the rain, followed up by hot chocolate and a good book by the fire. Her houseplants are her joy in life, as is her new-found love of tap dancing. She also likes to read cook books. Her dishes aren’t done and her boyfriend keeps putting her Lululemons in the dryer.

Possibly the worst is when the bio attempts to place the author and their work in the framework of the literary canon. They’re the bios that make you wonder if the author doesn’t believe that anyone will understand her or him until she is long dead. The reader then assumes they won’t understand anything the author says and their books become the kind that hipsters gift to each other without having read them.

They’re useless, unless of course the author thinks the reader cares about something like this:

The Legend:

E.A.Hand’s groundbreaking work will change the way you look at science fiction. Her kafkaesque, Shakespearian, james joyce-ish etherealism and nebulous cosmic intentions will transcend your wildest imaginations. She’s not just meta, she’s pata. When you read E.A. Hand, parts of your brain that you didn’t know you had will start to hurt.

There’s no respectable way to go about it, really. It’s a chump job. But, for all intents and purposes:

E.A Hand is a writer and reader of fiction living in Vancouver. She lives with her wonderful partner and two bonsai trees and writes poetry about all three. Her short fiction has appeared in various local publications. She is currently working on a novel of speculative fiction that she hopes everyone will like.

That’s what I got. Like it or lump it. (but I really hope you like it)


7 thoughts on “How to Write an Unimpressive Author Bio

  1. I’d hire you on the first two, slap you for the third, and put you on the maybe pile for the fourth. I was a magazine editor and looked at the written work, not the byline; ignored bios except to decide who I’d meet for lunch.
    Love your blog. Wave to my brother for me – he’s on Vancouver Island and yes, I know it’s a long way away, but you’re still a lot closer than I am.

      1. Thanks for waving to my brother! I was serious about your four bios. I agree with you the literary lioness (3rd) one would makea ll but other literary lions cringe. Your fourth (and serious?) one is straight, beautifully precis’d, but unmemorable. I liked the first two because they were amusing and – best of all – self-deprecating. It may be a very English trait, but laughing at oneself and not taking oneself too seriously is attractive. I react badly to the American way of blowing one’s own trumpet loud enough to start the Day of Judgement. I’d remember you from either of the first two bios, and would remember that you’d made me laugh – very welcome in a working day.

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