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Author Bio pet peeves.

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Ban, Jun 5, 2019.

  1. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    After having read through a number of them, I have come to the conclusion that I am turned off by third person bios from indie authors. To me, writing something in third person implies that it is not written by the person in question, but someone else (a third person if you will).

    Now knowing a thing or two about indie writers (by knowing indie writers), I'm about 101% sure that most of them are writing their own bios. Unless they have yet to contact me, there are no author bio fairies who do the work for you. Isn't it weird to write about yourself from that perspective? You're not fooling anyone, and perhaps this is a cultural thing, but it comes across as vain to me. Whenever I read a third person author bio from an indie writer, I am reminded of Julius Caesar in the Asterix and Obelix comics.

    In recent(ish) years, it has also become fashionable to be personable and a little quirky in your author bios, which I personally like. Most bios nowadays are not just listings of what the author has written before, but also give insight into their lives and their personality, usually with a self-deprecating tone about how mundane it really is (less fond of this, but points for being honest and authentic). Read through a few and most will read something like: "Jack London writes books about dogs, tropical voyages and the rough wilderness. He is a prolific writer who loves going out into the woods, drinking a pint and snuggling up with his dog Buck."

    But that brings us back to the problem with third person. I can suspend my disbelief when it comes to an indie author supposedly having an imaginary someone else write their bio, but when someone adds this much flavour to their bio it becomes even less believable than it was before. When the names of the author's pets and their favourite tv-shows pop up I'm left to ask: "Who is this weirdo that knows all the quirky details of your life?" and the follow-up "Should I call the police?"

    Pet peeves rant over. What are your thoughts, and how insignificant is this issue?
     
  2. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    The "general advice" is to refer to yourself by your last name in any bio because it helps the reader to remember who you are. When someone reads, "I am the Swiss Swindler," they might think that's cool but it doesn't help them remember that you are Ban and I should read this book because Ban is a pretty impressive guy................ hypothetically speaking.
     
  3. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    Well sure, but that's not what I'm referring to. You can introduce yourself in first person just fine. Using "I am Devor" or "Devor is" has the same effect in your example.
     
  4. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    But that only works once.

    "I am Ban, the Swindler of Swiss. I, BAN, am the Good Gouda King. In my Banniness, I will also let you call me Sir Laserface. I also have three pets and live in the Netherlands, which you can tell because I am BAN."
     
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  5. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    I've heard this as well (it might be you who told me). I don't have a problem with it as such, but I also feel like Ban is bringing up a valid point when it comes to the author bio i I put in my books (I finally got around to including one). The bio is in third person and referring to me by surname, just to hammer home the name.

    For a bio on a website, like here on MS, or on Amazon, or anywhere else like that, I feel it works, wit third person and surname. I'm just uncertain about author bios in books now. ;)
     
  6. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    Fair point DevorDevor, but do you think that repetition weighs up against... the artificiality? I suppose that won't matter to someone if they haven't been bothered by it before, but to me, I'd prefer reading the name only once or twice and having a good author bio in return, than having the name hammered in my head and wonder why on earth they're talking in third person.
     
  7. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    I'd think the opposite really. On a website or amazon I still need to be convinced of the author and whether I like them. On a website I'd also find it even less likely that they'd have someone to write the bio for them. If on the other hand I have the book already, I have given the author my trust in their work, at which point they can have any quirky way of writing their bio as they please.
     
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  8. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    But you're forgetting the point of a bio. It's not to introduce yourself, it's to talk up your life and accomplishments. Once you realize that jump, wouldn't you be more afraid of sounding braggadocious in 1st Person?
     
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  9. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    But does that work for an indie author devor? I'd say one of the big leg ups that indie authors have is that they can come across more personable and authentic than traditionally published works. We can believe that they're the guy living next-door. Wouldn't a less haughty approach be better then? Maybe the whole bio needs to be approached differently for an indie writer. For me it would at least, because there's otherwise a dissonance between my perception and the way they portray themselves.
     
  10. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    Actually, I'm sort of doing both...

    At the end of the story, just after "to be continued..." I have a page about the next book, and about where to reach me and find out more about the books etc. It's got my social media details and such, and it's in first person. Then, after that comes a page with the title "About the Author" and that's in third person.

    So, there's a fairly personal page that says, "hey, here's how to get hold of me if you have any questions" and another one that's more like a press-release with a cheesy gag at the end.
     
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  11. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    If what you mean is "does that work for someone who has no real accomplishments," I think that's being silly. To be totally honest I read a first person bio and usually think, "Who is this nobody? Why are they hiding their accomplishments? Don't they have any confidence?"
     
  12. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    .... no that's not what I meant at all. I'm saying that an indie author has a benefit that they can utilize, without the company behind them that would give credence to the idea of a supposed third person writing their third person bio. You can still show off your accomplishments in first person, and I'd think it would be better that way. It shows that the author has confidence in their accomplishments.
     
  13. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Do you have maybe an example?
     
  14. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    Let's say I want to mention the articles I have written on this website. I can write this in third person "Ban has 5 articles posted on the fantasy writer's website Mythicscribes.com" or I can write this in first person "5 of my articles can be found on Mythicscribes.com". Both say the same thing, but I'd personally (and it is fine if people disagree with this) prefer the latter, because it does not insert a fictional third person narrator and shows me this Ban guy is willing to say with confidence what he has written. It's not a major difference, but I think it still adds up a little bit to showing the author of the bio in a more confident active position than the more passive third person text.
     
  15. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    But that's one line. A bio goes on for a paragraph or several. First person gets arrogant pretty quickly.
     
  16. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    I can see how it could come across that way to you, but I don't think a third person approach comes across as more modest, especially when you can see through the third person facade given the context.
     
  17. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    The personable, quirky, self-deprecating or, sometimes, slightly absurd parts are the areas that make me cringe the most.

    I do think the cringe might be heightened by the third-person delivery when I know the author wrote the bio. I hadn't considered that before. But those parts would exist in a first-person delivery, so I don't think the POV change would make much of a difference for my level of cringe.

    Do I need to know Jack loves going out in the woods, drinking a pint and snuggling up with his dog Buck? No, no I don't. I don't care. Are these bios on a dating app? Heh. That's the part that gets to me. I can never decide if the inclusion of those personal details, or that type of personal detailing, is due to:
    1. A very self-conscious feeling of being an impostor, a poser.
    2. A desire to pose for the camera/ad—like those we might find on a dating app.
    3. The reaction to an assumed standard that has developed in publishing.
    Perhaps the quirky personal detailing is often a result of two or three of these.

    Personally, the need to talk or write about myself for the benefit of strangers I'll never meet produces a cringe all on its own. I hate the feeling that I have a requirement to sell myself. So I'm not unsympathetic. Usually I can read through the bio quickly, suppressing the cringe, because of a readerly response to #3 above. But the cringe doesn't disappear; it's merely suppressed.

    Occasionally some detail in a personal bio will actually interest me a little more in the story. But usually, not.
     
  18. Maker of Things, Not Kings is not a fan of third person bios in general. He has long resisted this form of bio though, to be honest, it comes from the fact that he feels that it has permeated the art world at large for decades and now seems to be bleeding into more general usage outside of the arts. He recently read an about page for a small wine bar that spoke of the owners in third person. Yikes. (he thought).

    Well, If a publishing house writes it that way for an author, what can one do? But yes, a self-published indie author? It seems a little excessive to me. Much like the way an average bike rider today might don the full Tour de France racing gear for their little jaunt around town. Of course, it's absolutely their right to do so, but they should be aware that some eyes are going to roll. . . so we must all choose :)
     
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  19. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    It's a resume, not a cover letter. Of course you write it in third person.
     
  20. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    You know Devor it is alright for people to have different opinions. Simply because something is done a certain way traditionally, does not mean it is the ideal or perfect way to do it, and there is no reason why we can't discuss it in that manner. I'd also argue that your average author bio is not a resume and serves an entirely different purpose than a resume. The author bios you see on amazon, or on a blog, or on any similar platform exist to give you as a customer insight into the writer and their work. Unlike a resume, it does not exist to recommend the writer to an employer.
     
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