Lets start out the new year with a bang, shall we?
There, that felt better didn’t it and now that we’ve gotten that out of the way…
I’ve been sauntering around the internet off and on over this lovely holiday period and along that well beaten path of blogs, lit magazines and message boards, I noticed something. Nearly every author and/or poet bio I read appeared to have been written by either a lunatic with a penchant for disconnected thoughts or a pretentious twelve year old showing off his/her new dictionary. Apparently this is the new method of appearing unique and original. It isn’t, it’s just obvious and has nothing to do with the purpose of a biography. As a reader, I don’t care if you smoke a pipe, live in van down by the river, eat mushrooms during a full moon, live in the most beautiful region of a country or dance around a may pole. Specifically, all I want to know are the following items of importance: Do you have anything interesting and/or important to tell me? Is your work honest? Have you lived your life on every page? Is your work inspired? Can you make me laugh, cry and maintain my interest to the bitter end? As an editor or agent I would want to know this: Have you been published? Where have you been published? What genre do you favour? Have you won any awards? Do you have an audience or readership? Why is your work better than others? Can you write a persuasive proposal that will help me sell your book? <—This last one is where we separate those who can from those who can’t.
This is a business and consequently it is about commerce. Publishers want to make money, they don’t want to promote nonsense, cheek or self indulgence and when the bullshit is stripped away, most writers want to make lots of money too. A bio is not a book. A bio is not a poem. A bio is the entry point and it is the writer’s first foray into the sale of their writing. The last time I worked in sales and marketing, consumers weren’t making a mad dash to hand over the green to someone smoking a pipe, dancing around a maypole or eating mushrooms under a full moon. I doubt agents and publishers would invest in them either. Oh, there are hacks out there who make scads of cash, but they (and it nearly kills me to say this) do deliver a decent product for what it is and their bios are about WRITING. 😉
*As an end note, the bios I read containing the imagery mentioned above do actually exist and all the guilty parties involved in this word fuckery are in full possession of a university degree but obviously not their common sense.