Monday, July 7, 2014

Things Never to Put In Your Author Bio

I interact with a lot of authors, many of whom contact me about getting interviewed for my writing site. I see a lot of author bios, some that wow me and many that make me cringe. I’d even include myself in that mix.

Don’t Throw Words In That Have Nothing to Do With Being a Writer

When I published my first poetry book ten years ago, I had just come off a 20-year career in marketing. I felt this was important somehow, mainly because I didn’t have many other writing credentials. I did have several freelance articles published, but didn’t feel that “made me a writer.” (Don’t we love it when we seek permission to define ourselves that way?)

So my writer bio went something like this: Cherie Burbach is a poet and marketing professional.
So far so good, right? Not so fast. In reviewing my book, one reader wrote on her blog something like this: “I enjoyed her poems but I don’t see what being a marketing professional has to do with anything.” She then went on to offer up some of the things she liked about the book, but I couldn’t get past her statement. What a great lesson for me. Who cared that I worked in marketing? My readers certainly didn’t.

After this I became more aware of my bio. I still tweak it. I try and make it sound pertinent and interesting, but I’m sure I’ll be updating and changing it as long as I’m given the opportunity to write.


Once upon a time, the word “problogger” was really cool. It was arguably started by Darren Rowse who named his site that way and described what he did as professional blogging. At the time, people were experimenting with blogging, just using it as a means of expression (before every writer on the planet realized it was a way to get a platform) and Rowse helped show that you could make a serious living that way.

Now, I see this word used all the time by authors who blog here and there (guest posts on their friend’s blogs, promotional posts, blog tour posts) but don’t really do “professional” blogging.

Why do I care? Because I am a paid blogger and there’s a big difference. Stating you’re a “problogger” implies that you’re an expert at SEO and the latest Google algorithm. It means companies pay you big bucks to create blog posts for them, and that you’re probably also really good at social networking (which is the other piece of professional blogging.)

Fans don’t know or care about this term. If you’ve got a blog or appear on a couple of their favorite sites, that’s what they care about. Mostly, they just care about your books.

Active Member

Be careful about saying you’re an “active member” of an organization. I see this constantly with one or two organizations in particular, and think it makes you sound like you’re a national chapter leader when maybe you’re just a member… like everyone else.

I first saw this listed on a new author’s bio for an organization that I had recently joined. I excitedly asked her how she was involved (hoping to get more involved myself) and she told me she commented on the group’s email loops. That’s being “actively involved”? I don’t think so.

The danger in listing this is it makes you sound like you’re trying to sound more important than you are, and readers don’t care about this stuff. Your bio should tell a reader about yourself, not fluff up your credentials.


Cherie Burbach has written for, NBC/Universal,, and more. Visit her website,
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  1. Great post. I'm reading Kristen Lamb's We Are Not Alone writer's guide to social media, and she makes many of the same points. (She told me her new book, Rise of the Machines, is better, but this is the one I have.)

    1. I love her blog! Great info on there.

  2. Good info, thanks for sharing. I never say I'm a pro at anything but I'm guilty of calling myself an active member. Yes, because I pay dues and comment. :) Thanks for the warning!

  3. I appreciated this post. I am constantly tweaking my bio. Years ago I spoke at a women's conference and the other speakers had paragraphs regarding their degrees and experiences. I found it very intimidating. My friend, a fellow-speaker wrote a nice short sweet and to the point bio for me. Taught me a valuable lesson. Recently, had an article published in a dog magazine. In that bio I mention my "granddogs." Tweaking your bio for a particular magazine or event helps connnect with your audience.
    Cindy Huff

    1. So true. I'll tweak mine depending on the publication, too. You're right, it does help connect you with the audience.