Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Bios continued - the short form

Well, I'm back and utterly exhausted. Between the Dragoncon convention(Congrats to Ridan author Nathan Lowell who won a Parsec Award), our research trip to Death Valley (yes it was 124 degrees!!) and our extended stay in California (thanks to Hurricane Irene) we are back.

I'm utterly swamped with all manner of things as getting Internet was virtually impossible in the wilds of California and at the convention. But I need to finish up my blog on bios so here goes....

In my last post on the subject yours working for you? I covered the long form where you want to forgo the standard where you live, grew up, went to college, or how many pets you have. But now let's talk about the short form. Most notably your twitter bio which gives you 20 more characters than a tweet (160 - but this also includes spaces).

What you say here will really depend on where you are in your career and, like all good bios should change as your success as a writer, and your platform evolves.

It's now September and the "indie" versions of Michael's books are officially out of print and the life of a big-six author is about to start. If he puts out some of his future books through self-publishing then he'll be switching to a true hybrid author but for now the only books that can be ordered are the Orbit books so he is "just" big-six - so guess what - I just updated his twitter bio.

@author_sullivan: Orbit Author: Theft of Swords (Nov) ● Rise of Empire (Dec) ● Heir of Novron (Jan) ● No ancient evils, just unlikely heroes and classic fantasy adventure.

Let's dissect this a bit so you know why I made the choices I did.
  • In most of publishing there isn't a lot of publisher loyalty - in other words most readers won't care if you are published by Simon & Schuster or Penguin - in most cases they won't even know. But this is not the case for genre fiction. In particular, romance, science fiction, and fantasy readers will watch the release schedules of a few prominent presses (Harlequin, Elora's cave for romance/erotica, and Tor, Baen, Orbit, DAW for fantasy/science fiction. So I made sure to make the fact that Michael writes for Orbit to be part of his new brand - it will help him get found when people search on Orbit. So if you are in a genre where there is publisher brand - use it to your advantage.

  • I think it is essential that if you are an author, you need to have your title in your bio. The problem comes when you have multiple titles. I suggest putting your biggest seller and next upcoming release. But in Michael's case his big seller is no longer available so I opted to play up the fact that all three books are coming out soon and in consecutive months.

  • It is also important to get your genre in your bio - if you work in multiple genres try to get as many in as you can.

  • The last thing I did is put in something to differentiate Michael's fantasy from other fantasy. Coming up with something short and concise takes time and practice the things I wanted to get across is a departure from a standard troupe (ancient evils, orphans destined for greatness) if I would have had room I would have added the orphans (and have had it in the past but didn't want to lose the space for all three titles since they are upcoming. I also got in that his characters (Royce and Hadrian) are unlikely heroes - in just two words you get a pretty good idea that they are your standard "good guy" knights or kings

  • Notice that I use bullets to break things up. This is a great space saving technique to get a bunch of things down in a small amount of space. For my own bio - I do a lot....Public speaker, publicist for Riyria Revelations, Founder of Ridan Publishing, educating people about changes in the industry. Using bullets is a great way to get all that down efficiently.
One more thing I want to point out since we are working the profile page of twitter. You can get a bit more "branding space" by using the location field. Most people use this to type their city/state but there is no rule that says you have to. Here are some examples:

Michael J. Sullivan (fantasy author): Where unlikely heroes dwell
Robin Sullivan (me): Publishing's cutting edge

So this is what I do, feel free to share your own ideas as well. I try to be "factual" and use this to get many branding keywords as possible out there but I'm interested to hear what techniques other use.


Anne Gallagher said...

This is fascinating information, I had no idea. I don't Tweet, but I like the ideas you've presented.

I like the "bullet" idea very much. Thanks.

John Dwyer said...

Great post Robin. I followed your instructions and created a new twitter bio for myself. My old one was:
"Travel writer and fan of self-publishing, ebook and kindle promotion. Author of High Road To Tibet - Travels in China, Tibet, Nepal and India". The new, improved version reads:
"@JohnDwyerBooks Travel Writing on Kindle
Travel Author ● High Road To Tibet ● Gael Force Thirteen ● Fan of self-publishing, ebook and kindle promotion ● Travel is the journey, not the destination". Those bullets were great and the idea about location was brill!

Sharper13x said...

Great ideas as usual, Robin. Thanks. I deleted my "cute" twitter bio for this...

"Author of the King's X series. Every soul comes back again and again. Few recall the truth. She can no longer forget it. A thinking person's Epic Thrill-ride."

Certainly more useful. And exactly 160 characters too!

Gisele said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gisele said...


I came across this gem on the bios of authors Preston & Child latest book:

"The authors welcome email from their readers."

To encourage those who liked your book enough to want to write you to do so, is the perfect way to capture the emails of your most dedicated fans!

I think this is a powerful marketing strategy. Brilliant because it is understated.

D.B. Smyth said...

Love the post, but I'm wondering what a yet-unpublished-I'm-still-working-on-my-first-novel writer should share. Any recommendations? Thanks!