Sunday, December 9, 2007

Innovative: A Word for the WriTeen

December 9th, 2007
Edited by Gabrielle Linnell


The Art of the Bio

by Gabrielle Linnell

For those who don’t know, a query is made up of three parts. There is the “lead” or “hook”: where you interest an editor in the piece you are writing. There is the “detailed pitch,” where you outline exactly what is going to be said in your article. And then there is a “bio,” where you describe why you are the best person to write this article.

Paragraph-long bios are used almost anytime you have a byline—that is, when you are credited with your work. Bios can be both a connection to your audience and a promotion of yourself to the editor you want to work for. To write the best possible bio, there are three main questions to ask yourself.

Who is my audience? If this is a bio for a published article, you want to make a reader follow your work, maybe buy magazines that have your name in them. Think about who is reading this, and what information about yourself that is relevant to them. If you’re writing about dog shampoo for I Heart Dogs, then mention your six Golden Retrievers.

If this is for an editor, you want to make yourself sound professional, polite and personable.

Why am I the best person to write this? This doesn’t always apply to fiction, unless the inspiration for your story is some unique circumstance you found yourself in. If you have credentials (like being an expert in XYZ) list them. If you don’t have them, don’t list fake ones or cutesy ones.

What will make them like me? Maybe the magazine you write for is known for a sarcastic tone; put in a witty joke. If the e-zine is particularly stuffy, make sure you are just as formal as they are. If you’re writing to teen girls, make yourself chic. Develop a sense of taste and an understanding of what is appropriate where.

Writing bios is like fashion for “real women.” You want to dress your flaws so that nobody notices them. You want to dress your better parts with pizzazz and elegant style, so that people will look at you as a whole person, and love what they see.*

NEXTWEEK: Have a week off for Christmas break? Gabrielle Linnell talks about how to use those holiday hours.


Beauty by Robin McKinley

Even guys can enjoy this funny, detached retelling of Beauty and the Beast, the debut novel of the now-legendary fantasy author. Beauty is actually quite plain, and uses her time reading Greek and riding her horse Greatheart. When her father returns, cursed by an evil monster, she decides it’s probably best to go in his place. Original and witty, this is not the Broadway musical version.

NEXTWEEK: Innovative finds out what’s happening with Laura Preble, author of the Queen Geek series.

Spread the WORD! Contest Results

First Place: Ella Regan
Second Place: Hana Calvez
Over Five Points:
Katie Beth Groover

Interview with Ella Regan:

What do you like to write?
I like to write action-adventure.
Number One favorite author?
Gail Carson Levine (though she did not write my favorite book)
Favorite flavor of milkshake?
Umm… Max and Erma's Special Oreo-cream Milkshake. I don’t know if they make them anymore though :-(.
What was entering the Spread the WORD! contest like?
You put in a lot of work! It was really fun! All of my friends thought it was really cool that one of my friends actually started (and kept up with) an e-zine!
If you could be the host of a reality show, what would the show be about and what would the contest be about?
Honestly? I have Nooooo idea. I’d probably have it be a cliff-hanger though.

Hana Calvez says…

Favorite author: C. S. Lewis
Favorite genre: Fantasy
Song that describes you: Amazing Grace
Website you visit the most: Neopets
Project you're working on right now: My first novel called Obwanthia.

Innovative Housekeeping

We have been added to Maria Schneider’s (the editor of Writer’s Digest) blogroll, as part of her Project 20/20. This is a huge honor and we’re all quite thrilled! Visit Maria’s blog at to learn more.


Katie Beth said...

How do you normally write bios? First person or third? That's always been hard for me, because first person bios sound weird in print, but third person bios sound snooty any other time.

Gabrielle said...

When I query, I always use first person because a query is usually in first person. For print (like when an editor asks me to provide a query), I always use third person.

Good question!