One of the more difficult tasks for me as a new writer, besides crafting a query letter, or synopsis (which I irreverently call suck-nopsis), was to create an author bio. Who wants to know anything about me?
Apparently everybody, according to experts who eat and breathe social media every day.
I did all the how-to research, perused examples of like-minded writers. I came up with the usual anecdote, you can read it here on my “About” page. Short, concise, move on.
At last year’s Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group (GLVWG) conference, The Write Stuff, we had the privilege of booking social media maven, Kristen Lamb, author of Rise of the Machines – Human Authors in a Digital World, and lead honcho of WANA International (We Are Not Alone). Most of what I learned about an author’s process for blogging and establishing a social media presence, came from Kristen’s earlier book, “We Are Not Alone –The Writer’s Guide to Social Media.” That’s me, towering over the writer/blogger who’s larger than life.
Being the altruistic fellow I am, I volunteered my bio for an interactive critique session Kristen facilitated. She loved the header graphic on my website, but it took her five seconds to spout Meh on the bio. Wow. Talk about a spiral death dive in front of my writer buddies. She was quick with a smile and “don’t feel bad, most writer bios she’d read were less than inspiring.”
Inspiring? What, I have to come across like Gandhi? I’m a writer, not a celebrity.
It’s all about attracting folks to the website. Imagine yourself a typical dude or dudette, browsing Google for interesting stuff. They click to a site, see the graphic, maybe scan the article du-jour, and wonder who wrote it. A quick bio check, typical “I be a writer” blurb, it’s sayonara baby. Let’s all give a big yawn for DT.
How many times had Kristen’s blog advice back-slapped my noggin with “its social media … you know … SOCIAL”. Why do you think so many magazines exist about PEOPLE? Folks want to know who you are, so they can decide if you’re worth sticking around a few minutes to read my stuff. Nobody is going to hang around to read a boring LinkedIn style resume, or accomplishments in writertopia, aimed at … other writers.
You’ve got less than thirty seconds to reel in the reader fish. If your lure isn’t distinctive, you won’t get any nibbles.
I needed more cowbell, she said.
Go to Youtube and watch a classic SNL sketch with Christopher Walken, where he portrays a music producer advising a rock group to add more cowbell.
My assignment, should I choose to accept it, was to go back to my room and bullet point one-liners that described who I was. Be creative. Be unusual. Be silly. But it has to be me, and not some fictionalized persona to make it look good.
Blame it on the cocktails I had with Kristen at the conference social night. It opened up a door I rarely opened. I came up with close to fifty. I could tell with Kristen’s yeah, that’s it … cool … oh, I like that one, I’d hit pay dirt. The one phrase we both agreed should headline … Passionate Curmudgeon.
We cherry-picked the best cowbells.
- Passionate Curmudgeon who likes growing tomatoes
- Science by training, Superhero in his dreams
- Writes in silence because he can’t think with all that noise
- Blogs about important issues, like if robots will ever achieve true love
- Newly minted grandpa, whose child rearing prowess was forged in the Neolithic Era
- Thinks Carl Sagan was a really cool alien
- Lived in Asia for ten years and still can’t speak Chinese
- Not into zombies, it’s just too biologically unrealistic
- Loves to cook, because its chemistry and you get to eat the experiments
- Drinks vodka, because he’s on a low carb diet
- Carnivores rule, Vegans drool; if he wants vegetables, he eats chicken
- Former Peace Corps Volunteer, because dengue fever and gut worms were on his bucket list
- Sucker for good animation, even the cute ones
- Likes romantic elements as long as it breaks all the rules of the RWA formula
- Not allowed to buy clothes without permission
- Loves dogs, thinks cats are … cats
- Texts with one finger, uses correct punctuation and apostrophes
- Collects concept art, Hubble constellations, and pictures of black holes
- Secretly believes “growing up” is a highly overrated concept
A little long to post on the sidebar of my website, so I linked it on about.me/dtkrippene, a really cool social media website specializing in people’s bios from all over the world. Think of it as a LinkedIn-Pinterest for creative individuals from all walks of life. As of this posting, over 72,000 people year-to-date have viewed my brand and bio on about.me, many rating my site and bio as inspirational.
Who’d a thunk?
Now get out there and let folks know who’s behind the curtain.
You can find Kristen Lamb on her Facebook page, and get great advice on swimming in the vast seas of social media at her Warrior Writers blog page.
Marlo Berliner said:
Great post, DT! And timely, as I am just trying to figure out what to write for my book bio. I struggled for over an hour to come up with something sizzling but in the end I kept it simple. But you may have convinced me to add a few more interesting tidbits about myself 🙂
Give it a try. It’s very freeing. Cocktails are optional. Thanks Marlow.
Mary Barberia said:
Love every one of your cowbells! And they are very you.
Thanks Mary. Had some help from the expert, but it’s my wacky imagination at play.
James Pailly said:
My favorite is “Science by training, superhero in his dreams.”
I think it’s why we write; realize some of the super hero in our words, and the worlds we build. Thanks James. Always appreciate hearing from you.