Here it is August 2020. How is it possible that time can move so fast, yet seem to drag on endlessly? (Pandemic changes one’s sense of time, doesn’t it…)
But August it is, and as we’ve discussed many times, if your book has a news hook that relates to the pandemic or other current events, you stand a very good chance of getting coverage. But that isn’t the only way…
The calendar is another good way to land coverage with media outlets that are not so news focused and also understand that people are fatigued with all of this. Focusing on a lighter topic can sometimes be just the ticket.
Let’s take a look at some of the opportunities August provides for authors and their books. Can you speak to any of these topics featured during the month of August?
The Month of August is . . .
- Admit You’re Happy Month
- Family Fun Month
- National Eye Exam Month
- National Golf Month
- Peach Month
- Romance Awareness Month
- National Picnic Month
Weekly events in August include:
- Week 1: National Simplify your Life Week
- Week 2: National Smile Week
- Week 3: Friendship Week
- Week 4: Be Kind to Humankind Week
The featured events in August are a sharp contrast to what we’re hearing in the news on a daily basis, and that’s a good thing. We all need a little relief now and then and if you and your book’s topic can make that happen, then you’re needed. There are some media outlets looking for you.
On another note
Last week we covered why an author must have a press release. If you missed it, you can read about it here.
That got me thinking about all the other press pieces that need to be created in order to promote your book in the most elegant way possible. And by elegant, I mean doing the creative work BEFORE you begin your outreach so you’ll be ready when the requests come in. This will save you time, not to mention the angst that comes from the pressure of needing something RIGHT NOW! I am a planner, you see, and if that isn’t one of your strong suits, that’s OK. I will tell you what you need to do to be prepared.
Today we’re discussing the ever-important bio, which is short for a biological profile of you. There are many different opinions on this, but as someone who has been promoting authors and working with the media for many years now, I promise to give you the real scoop.
Should a bio be written in first person or third person?
You need them both. Why? Having a first-person bio on your website is fantastic. You’re connecting directly with your customers there and they want to know about you, directly from you in your own voice.
However, when it comes to doing interviews and other business-to-business opportunities, a third-person bio works best.
Because it establishes your credibility. A bio is basically offering your glowing benefits and it’s simply more palatable coming from someone else, meaning that it’s written in the third person. It’s much more professional and it’s the stronger way to go for business purposes.
How long should a bio be?
Ask just about any author and they will tell you they have about one hundred different bios of various lengths. This is because different media and speaking outlets have different requirements, but the best place to start is with two: One long version (approximately 500 words) and one short (50-70 words).
The long bio
The long bio is an explanation of who you are, what you’ve done, credentials, degrees, and anything else that shows why you are the expert and why others should listen to what you have to say. You can include a line or two of personal information at the end, such as if you’re married, kids and/or pets, and include where you live. It doesn’t have to be exactly that, but something personal like that, e.g., married and living in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The short bio
The short bio is the one that is often used for interviews, speaker introductions, and other professional situations. It’s only a couple of sentences long so you want to make it shine. The information on this short bio is not usually what you would say about yourself, but you’d LOVE someone else to say it about you.
How do you want to be introduced?
As you’re creating your short or mini-bio, think about how you would want a TV host, NPR host, or someone else to introduce you. It should flow easily from the MC’s mouth and really capture the attention of people listening.
Listen to other interviews
Go ahead and listen to other interviews and notice the introductions for the guest. Get an idea of what works, and what doesn’t. You’ll be able to tell. Remember, it’s short so it should only be around 2 or 3 sentences.
Whether it’s your long bio or the short one, they’re both an important piece in your positioning. This sets the stage for your interview or presentation and you only have a short time to stake a claim in the mind of others.
Keep them listening
Whether you’re being introduced for a Zoom presentation, or as the next speaker at a conference (when we get back to being on stages), or for an all-important podcast or online streaming interview, what is said in that introduction can be the very thing that makes people decide to keep listening or tune out.
As I said, you have two different versions of your bio, but depending on the media outlet or speaking opportunity, you may want to tweak the bio to fit each particular audience. Lengths may vary somewhat but the 500/50 word could is the length to shoot for unless they tell you otherwise.
Here are a few more ideas when it comes to creating your own bios
Let’s face it. There’s a reason artists and writers talk about resistance coming up when they face that blank piece of people. Writing about yourself can be hard. Self promotion can wear a person out, so here are a few more ideas to consider.
Have someone else write it
Just because it’s your bio doesn’t mean you have to write it. Have someone else write it for you. If you can, find someone who has experience writing author bios. We live in a world where getting input from others has never been easier, but you do want to get helpful input that applies to what you’re doing and that means from people who have experience in the area you need help in.
Don’t overthink it
If you do decide to give it a go and write your own bio, don’t overthink it. Bios have a formula. Look over the bios of other authors to see what the basic pattern is. When you throw in different adjectives or an unusual accomplishment, you already stand out.
Look over other bios but resist the temptation to compare. You are unique so remember your worth. Your story is your story and your book is your book, so don’t worry about how other bios seem so much more impressive. They’re not.
Remember, your bio is special to you and your book. Remember to include a link to where to buy the book or to the right page on your website. Oh, and remember, bios are an evolutionary process. It’s normal to change it fairly often. Soon, you too will have 100 different bios in a folder. Have fun!
To your success!
P.S. As we mentioned earlier, now and then we need a break from the news and just need to see something sweet. “Eat your Brussels sprouts!”