It is only three to five sentences at the end of a publication, but your author biography is your professional thumbprint. It should be unique; no one has taken the same writing path as you. So what all should it include? Publishing credits are valid, memberships, books, maybe your location, but what about your three-legged iguana that you insist is Poe’s muse reincarnate?
I won’t only admit to sometimes detailing strange things about my personal life in my bio (character is everything, right?), but I’m also a fan of the funny ones. They work well to get you noticed, because who doesn’t like funny people? Still, I don’t think they are always appropriate.
There is a place for comical biographies, and then, there are not such places for them. If I’m sending work to a pro-rate literary establishment who stresses professional MS formats, styles, themes, and other (often very specific) submission requirements, I’m not going to close my story with a bio that talks about the weird occurrences in my attic at night—with the exception that my story is about weird things occurring in my attic at night, in which case it might then be relevant to the material I’m submitting. To do otherwise, I think discredits the author’s professional experience and could even shadow the intent behind his/her craft.
But not everyone feels the same. Many of the editors of paying markets themselves have some of the craziest biographies I have ever read. Though entertaining, I have to wonder, who the hell is judging/considering my work? A purple cat or a qualified editor?
The opposite is also true. Some biographies are too dense, packed with publishing credits and/or irrelevant information, and come across b-o-r-i-n-g, or worse, pompous. Balance is probably the best approach. To achieve it, which I don’t always do, I usually rewrite my bio with every piece I submit, in hopes of complimenting each story to its fullest potential. All of which leads me to cover letters …
What is your take? Do you agree, disagree, or just hate biographies all together?