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Author Bio pet peeves.

Devor

Fiery Keeper of the Hat
Moderator
Again though, you're still trying to write your bio for readers, like the industry doesn't matter. That attitude is going to suicide your success. You've got to be able to reach out through the industry if your audience is ever going to hear about you. And that's what a bio is a part of. Connecting with the readers does not mean you can ignore the industry. That's a serious mistake that many, many people make.
 

Ban

Troglodytic Trouvère
Article Team
But why? If we're talking about the indie world, why are we talking about 'the industry'. The indie market is succeeding in spite of the industry titans, not by their grace. And also this 'industry' is just as much part of the reader base as anyone else, they are humans afterall. If you look at the young writers and entrepeneurs popping up we're talking about a generation that prides itself on dynamism and casual informality, the exact dynamism that an indie writer can tap into.

I don't think we're going to agree on this so I'll just tap out, but know that I do take into account your counter arguments Devor and I don't disagree with them in the context of the traditional marker. I simply don't believe they should be the primary focus in our newly developing indie landscape.
 

Devor

Fiery Keeper of the Hat
Moderator
But why? If we're talking about the indie world, why are we talking about 'the industry'. The indie market is succeeding in spite of the industry titans, not by their grace.

The "industry" does not refer to six traditional publishing companies but to everyone connected to the whole business. The "industry titans" write author bios because they have to appeal to the same kind of reviewers as everyone else does.

"Indie" means independent. That's not the same as going alone. Find me a successful indie publisher, and I'll show you a person who knows how to network behind the scenes in ways that most of the rest of us are too afraid to and make excuses not to.


And also this 'industry' is just as much part of the reader base as anyone else, they are humans afterall. If you look at the young writers and entrepeneurs popping up we're talking about a generation that prides itself on dynamism and casual informality, the exact dynamism that an indie writer can tap into..

You're wrong here. By the time an industry insider is looking at your bio, they are working. They don't care about your latest clever witticism. They're tired of them. They want your credentials. Your background. A clear picture. It's a resume or a CV. That's what they want.
 

Malik

Auror
"Indie" means independent. That's not the same as going alone. Find me a successful indie publisher, and I'll show you a person who knows how to network behind the scenes in ways that most of the rest of us are too afraid to and make excuses not to.

In all fairness, the fear and excuses aren't unfounded. At cons and festivals, I'm a walking Rolodex with a drink in one hand. And the amount of shit I catch for it from other indie authors is staggering.
 

Ban

Troglodytic Trouvère
Article Team
You're wrong here. By the time an industry insider is looking at your bio, they are working. They don't care about your latest clever witticism. They're tired of them. They want your credentials. Your background. A clear picture. It's a resume or a CV. That's what they want.

Well if that is the one and only purpose for bios why do people continue to write witty and personable bios in third person? Might as well critique the entire basis of my post, instead of the voice used. Nevermind.
 

Malik

Auror
I do take into account your counter arguments Devor and I don't disagree with them in the context of the traditional marker. I simply don't believe they should be the primary focus in our newly developing indie landscape.

The line between "indie" and "traditional" author is getting blurrier by the day.

I wrote my bio in third person because my hook--my market placement--is to basically be this guy:

foxhound.jpg

The authors I compete against every day--every damned day--have bios in third person. I agree with you that it's idiotic, but they make the rules.

My job is to thrive by the rules that make me money, and to challenge the rules that don't.

I think I've said it before on these boards, but it bears repeating: the indie author landscape right now reminds me of the indie rock landscape in the mid- to late-90's. A lot of the same factors are at play; namely, the plummeting cost and relative accessibility of professional-caliber production methods, coupled with a playing field that's increasingly level.

Ban, you and the mods know this already, but for anyone else reading this: I go head to head with the big kids. I release a book roughly every two years. I price at $9.99, competing for the same tightly curated promotions, and paying for the same ad space, that the major publishing companies use. And not to be a dick, but it works. My audio advance was comparable to what some new Big Five authors get for a first novel. (To be fair, it was an advance for two books versus an advance for a single book, but I hope you understand my point, here.)

If the guy I'm talking to right now about my film rights decides to bite, it could change the world. No joke. I'm not alone on this; there are hundreds if not thousands of indie authors out there right now who are one phone call away from effectively setting off a suitcase nuke in the middle of the publishing industry. We're that close. It may not be me, but it will happen.

I did a signing at a Barnes and Noble not long ago, and the staff--the staff!--were asking me which major publishing house Oxblood Books was a subsidiary of. That? That's my brand, right there. Being indistinguishable from the majors, even by industry professionals, is where I make my money and how I manage to spend evenings in strange cities signing books. That's why my bio is in third person. It's what professionals do.

There's a time and place to shake up the system and a time and place to benefit from what's gone before. I do plenty of the former, and writing a bio in third person is definitely the latter.
 

Devor

Fiery Keeper of the Hat
Moderator
In all fairness, the fear and excuses aren't unfounded. At cons and festivals, I'm a walking Rolodex with a drink in one hand. And the amount of shit I catch for it from other indie authors is staggering.

Wait, they really give you grief for knowing people?
 

Malik

Auror
Wait, they really give you grief for knowing people?

Not for knowing people, but being an extrovert (or at least, being able to convincingly cosplay as an extrovert) seems to be considered an easy-mode hack in this industry.
 

Devor

Fiery Keeper of the Hat
Moderator
Not for knowing people, but being an extrovert (or at least, being able to convincingly cosplay as an extrovert) seems to be considered an easy-mode hack in this industry.

That sounds more like jealousy to me.
 

Svrtnsse

Staff
Article Team
I'm starting to feel more and more stupid here, but I can't quite let this thing with targeting the bio go...

I've been looking around at guides for writing author bios, and they all seem to say in one way or another that the purpose of the bio is for the author to connect with the reader.

From reedsy: How to Write a Memorable Author Bio (with Template)
It’s important for indie authors to know how to write an author bio that tells readers: who you are, what you write, why readers should trust you, and how you stand out from other writers.

From Bookbub: Writing Your Author Bio? Here Are 10 Great Examples.
Writing your author bio can be a daunting task, but a well-crafted bio can help readers learn more about what makes you and your books so interesting. You should regularly maintain your bio on places like your BookBub Author Profile so fans and potential readers seeking you out can learn more about you and why they should pick up your latest book.

From kindlepreneur: How to write a compelling author bio
The author bio is where you establish yourself as the kind of person who ought to be read by your target market. It’s where you forge a connection with your potential readers and get them to trust you, believe in you, and want to read what you have to say. If you take the author bio seriously and get it right, you’ll sell more books. *That’s* why the author bio matters.

I have a hard time matching the above with "author bios aren't written for readers" because from what I'm finding, they very much are. That said, this doesn't mean you can't write them with the eye to also letting jaded industry professionals find out more about you. Additionally, you can have more than one author bio available depending on who it's targeted for - which was another suggestion I came across.
 

Svrtnsse

Staff
Article Team
Not for knowing people, but being an extrovert (or at least, being able to convincingly cosplay as an extrovert) seems to be considered an easy-mode hack in this industry.
I shall have to tag along with you at worldcon and take notes for a bit.
 

Devor

Fiery Keeper of the Hat
Moderator
I have a hard time matching the above with "author bios aren't written for readers" because from what I'm finding, they very much are. That said, this doesn't mean you can't write them with the eye to also letting jaded industry professionals find out more about you. Additionally, you can have more than one author bio available depending on who it's targeted for - which was another suggestion I came across.

And you promised in chat you wouldn't make me go searching for sources. :confused:
 

Ban

Troglodytic Trouvère
Article Team
Thank you Malik , it might be a bit idle to say it, but that's what I wanted to hear. I think it is entirely fair to abide by the rules of the game as they are laid out, that is only sensible. Why wear a backpack full of stones during a marathon when you don't need to? No reason to give yourself a handicap. The problem I started this thread on, or what I had in my mind at least but didn't word as I should, is that we accept these rules left over by the traditional industry as sensible on the basis of tradition, even when the market and the cultural landscape in the literature world has shifted to make them obsolete.

Writing in third or first is ultimately a minor issue, but it is indicative to me of the nonsense junk we have littered in the indie scene. To me, the whole idea is based on retroactive logic and quite frankly doesn't make sense given the state of the industry and where it is heading. We have a market that shows strong signs of being ideally suited towards personalities, people who exist in the minds of their readers beyond their work. In this emerging landscape, which has already been realized when looking at our neighbouring creative worlds of music and art, to portray yourself to the reader should be the principal goal. They are the customer and the wheel on which our success ultimately hinges. Cut out the middle men ideally, and work with them only when in a good position to bargain.

Now the problem on my side, is that in my head we're already in the post-punk stage, where we can do away with the archaic mannerisms and conduct ourselves in the industry as makes sense in the specific context of this online indie industry. I take your word for it that we are not quite there yet, and are still in the punk stage looking to burst the bubble, and I hope that bubble burst fast.
 
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Svrtnsse

Staff
Article Team
And you promised in chat you wouldn't make me go searching for sources. :confused:
I did.
That's why I tried looking for them myself, but from what I saw, the most common advice by far is for indie authors to write bios for potential readers.

The sites I linked are fairly well known and well respected (at least that's my impression), and a lot of indie authors will heed the advice they find there. It could be they're factually wrong, but I find it hard to believe they're all wrong, and in the same way (yes, it's possible).

What's more, it ties back to what Malik and Ban just mentioned.
It shapes the rules of the industry in its current state. If this is the advice indie authors are given by sources they trust, they're probably following them. Readers see it, and it shapes their expectations. Perhaps the purpose of the author bio has shifted, and it's now more of a direct marketing tool than a tool for business networking?

It's not unthinkable, is it?

Regardless of whatever though, one thing is clear, and that is that I'm going to have to rewrite my author bio both for my books and for my website. :)
 
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Malik

Auror
it shapes their expectations

This.

Even in the meta, you have to play to the tropes. Abide by them if you want; subvert them if it's your thing. But you have to know what the reader expects, and you have to know where your take on the accepted tropes is going to land you. That's your brand. That's what you're selling. More than anything else, your placement in the widely accepted ecosystem of your craft is what you're asking people to buy, whether by time or money.
 

Devor

Fiery Keeper of the Hat
Moderator
It could be they're factually wrong, but I find it hard to believe they're all wrong, and in the same way (yes, it's possible).

It's not about being right or wrong. Anything that readers can see is of course something you want to be able to use to appeal to them. But a poor bio is going to have a lopsided effect on your ability to network within the industry, while even the strongest bio is not going to do much for your reading audience.
 

Svrtnsse

Staff
Article Team
But a poor bio is going to have a lopsided effect on your ability to network within the industry
This makes sense.

while even the strongest bio is not going to do much for your reading audience.
From what I'm reading on the topic, this isn't correct, but I'll leave it at that and tap out on this subtopic (at least for the evening).

I think we can all agree that having a good author bio is a good thing though. Arguing about why having a good bio is good may be interesting, but, well, I'd rather talk about how. :p
 

Chessie2

Staff
Article Team
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?
It's the standard for how they are done in the Indie world. How they are written also depends largely on genre. Writing a bio in first person is outside the norm/not professional.
 

Ban

Troglodytic Trouvère
Article Team
We're having different dicussions here. I (and others) want to talk about why the current situation is not ideal given the developing context, while others have interpreted the question in the sense of why indie writers choose to accept the current situation (as you likely should).

I should start writing good first posts for once.
 

Ned Marcus

Inkling
But why? If we're talking about the indie world, why are we talking about 'the industry'.
Because some people are prejudiced against indie authors and look for any sign of a book being indie in order not to buy it. Why would indie authors want to make their books look different from traditionally published books? We can get good covers, good editing, good blurbs etc. I think this is just part of that. And selling indie books is a business like traditional publishing is.

Ultimately though, I'm not sure many readers will care.
 
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