As of last week, we were talking about how to write your author bio for your novel proposal. A number of Loyal Readers posted sample author bios for me to critique. I reviewed several of them, including Camille’s, which had some good features in it, and revealed some paradoxes in Camille’s nature. I thought it was rather funny that Camille was writing a novel that seemed to be at odds with who she actually is. But I may not have been clear about that:
I’m going to think about this one long and hard. I happen to be what people would consider “normal” (except for the the nice nail part — pianists and typists don’t get to have those). This Randyism made me go “ouch,” and I felt kind of sad. I don’t like to read romance novels but I do like to write romance into my novels. It makes me sad there are too many “nice, sweet romance writers” out there! I’m not expressing myself very well (the natives are restless here) but I’ve copied this statement into my “Randyisms” file to ponder on it.
Randy sez: Karla, I didn’t say there are too many nice sweet romance writers out there. I said that the world has enough of them. As in “about the right number.” The marketing problem for them is that there are so many of them, all seemingly pretty similar. What I thought Camille should try to tap into is whatever it is in her personality that makes her write “sweet romances” when she clearly doesn’t think she’s typical of writers of “sweet romances.” Uniqueness sells. If Camille can figure out what makes her the way she is, then she can use that as a marketing hook.
Like a number of you, I liked Christophe’s bio. I thought maybe it could be tightened up, but humor is a touchy thing to tighten up. Here’s his original:
Christophe Desmecht is self-proclaimed Euro Trash. Not in the actual sense of the term, but just because he likes the sound of it. Living in Belgium, the heart of Europe, he hopes to dig deep into the mystical past of the continent and produce some fiction that’s both enjoyable and mind-challenging at the same time.
He enjoys writing about werewolves and nutjobs, and though he claims to be neither, he also states he’s properly house-trained and the newspapers should come off the carpet soon. He also doesn’t howl at the moon… anymore.
I think the second paragraph is stronger than the first. The first starts well but then begins to sound apologetic. So here’s how I’d tighten it up:
Euro Trash novelist Christophe Desmecht lives in Brussels, the heart of Europe’s dark and mystical past. He enjoys writing about werewolves and nutjobs and sincerely believes that is normal. Christophe’s keepers have signed an affidavit that he is properly house-trained and that he has quit howling at the moon. He hopes this will drive a stake through the heart of the rumors that have dogged him for years.
There of course needs to be more stuff in the bio than this, but it’s a start.
D.E. Hale wrote:
Ok, after that my mind is just going all over the place. Like Camille, I seem to be a contradiction of sorts, but I don’t know what to do with that revelation. I’m a plain-jane homeschooling mommy of 3 who is also the wife of a minister, BUT I like to write Christian Fantasy that is in no way all nicey-nicey. It’s very blunt. For the characters to survive the story, they must travel down a very hard, and bloody road. One of my friends actually told me I needed to tone down all the “blood and guts”.
So, why do I write that stuff??? Hmmm…I’m going to be thinking about that one for awhile. I mean, do I have a deeper reason? I don’t think so. I just wrote it that way because it was necessary for the story to be right. I love those kinds of stories that really tug at your soul and make you think, and that’s what I want to do for others – make them think about their faith.
I may have just stumbled upon something. So would that be the tie? I mean, that fact that I’ve been the wife of a minister/missionary for nearly 20 years? If it is, how is that marketable? Even as missionaries we never did anything revolutionary or anything. What would be interesting enough about me to market?
Randy sez: Yikes, a nice missionary lady/minister’s wife/home-schooling mummy! Before I have tea with you, I think I’m going to make sure you don’t have a knife hidden up your sleeve. 🙂 And maybe I’ll let the cat try the tea first to make sure it isn’t poisoned.
I do think you should tap into this contradiction in some way. Exactly how you do it isn’t clear, but you should ask yourself WHY you like this kind of book. The answer will tell you something marketable about yourself.
Question: Will an editor cast off an author when they learn the author is under 25? It got me thinking, because all these bios have oodles of life experience and here I am young and gung-ho. And then there’s all the plagiarism scandals with young writers. I read on another author’s site that no one has anything to write before they are 40 – but this writer doesn’t believe that (and has the manuscripts to prove it!)
In other words, can my age hurt my ability to publish, no matter how strong the writing? Can my age hurt my ability to market? Is there anything special I need to do to play it down or play it up?
Randy sez: Because of the plagiarism scandals, you’ll not be able to play it up the way you could have just a few years ago. The editors have learned to be suspicious of very young writers who have excellent craft. HOWEVER, talented young writers will always be in demand.
I’ve heard that comment about “you have nothing to say before you’re 40.” I don’t believe it. Norman Mailer published THE NAKED AND THE DEAD in 1948 when he was right around 25. That was after fighting in World War II. He had plenty to say.
I would phrase the comment this way. “You have nothing to say until you know you’re going to die.” A lot of people don’t realize that until they’re 40. Actually, some of them don’t realize that until they’re 80. Anyone who fought in World War II was all too aware of their own mortality, and therefore had something to say.
In any event, whether you have anything to say, it is still worth learning the craft of writing fiction so you’ll be ABLE to say something when you finally have it to say. So I would suggest you not worry about this age thing. If you write well, then editors won’t care how old you are.