Your brain is fried.
It is just what I have been dreading. If you are the type who breaks out in sweat when asked to introduce yourself in front of a sea of unknown questioning faces, then you are not alone. It is the single worst request in the world, guaranteed to put anyone in an anxious quandary.
How much of it? Why do they want to know anyway? Now visualise the number of onlookers multiplied by a few thousands, as in the readership of a popular magazine, and suddenly knocking off a biography begins to appear an insurmountable task as high as an angel on Ecstasy.
I like to call this condition "ego phobia," an acute fear of knowing the self. On a good day you would like to think you are affable, intelligent and a magnet for the opposite sex, in addition to being God's gift to the publishing world and the reigning world Writing a good bio of fly-swatting.
Assuming that this is all really true, is it actually relevant?
Even if it is, how does one put all this across without sounding like a braggart? And how do you do it in under the regulation fifty words? Puzzling over these questions, I resolve to rid myself of this recurring apprehension once and for all and discover the formula for building the perfect bio.
After all, I am a writer. I use words like others use oxygen. How hard can it be to string together a couple of sentences about myself? Biographies have been around since the very first manuscript was scratched onto parchment.
They are one of the most powerful tools that a writer can use to make himself stand out from the crowd. Having an eye-catching attention-grabbing bio is important for several reasons. Strong Bios Make Strong Impressions. Regardless of whether you are an established or a less-known writer, chances are your story will be read by editors whom you may be unacquainted with.
Your bio makes the first impression. An authoritative bio establishes your bona fides as a writer, gets the editor interested and leads to profitable repeat commissions and long-term contracts.
Imagine a generous five-inch-by-two-inch empty canvas available to market your writing skills to the world. Now imagine being paid for it instead of paying for it. That is your bio, the fifty or so extra words' leeway that you can exploit to sell yourself as a story-teller.
This is why even when magazines do not ask for a bio, you should provide one. Even if it doesn't get published, it will still have passed under three pairs of eyes; the more visibility, the more opportunity.
Readers tend to remember writers whose work they have enjoyed, and look for more such works. This information can be supplied by your bio. From then on, it is only a matter of readers spreading the word to others. So I puzzle over whether to reveal my day job, fight the impulse to gloat over my latest article sale, decide to disclose a well-kept family secret and give free rein to my artistic temperament.
Finally, after hours of staring at glowing cathode rays, running Spell Check umpteen times and shedding vast amounts of the sparse hair on my head, I think I've found it.
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