Today is the day. The day the materials—manuscript, bios, artwork, and blurbs—for my book are due. So far my biggest issue with this process has been the very hands-off-and-on-your-honor approach my publisher has had with regard to what they need from me. I’m great with deadlines. I manage my time well. They have made the list of requirements perfectly clear as far back as January when I was signing the contract.
The problem (which is my problem) is the fuzzy nature of when all the artifacts are due. If I had a solid deadline of May 15th, I would have managed that. Let’s say it was August 1st. No worries. I’d hit that date. But leaving it open ended to where the materials are due at the latest roughly one month before the pre-release, means that all the self-imposed deadlines I’ve set for myself have come and gone and the pulling of the actual triggers has not gotten done.
Yes I have the final manuscript completed with title pages, section pages, artwork, table of contents and acknowledgments.
Yes I have one to three author photos ready and waiting.
Yes I have three blurbs by other authors singing the accolades of this magnificent collection of poetry.
Yes I have the internal artwork and am expecting the final cover design to be delivered to my in-box today.
So what’s the hang up? What’s still missing? What’s going to keep me from hitting my latest self-imposed deadline (in case you missed it, that’s today).
The answer is Author bios. One short, single paragraph version and one longer, three or four paragraph version. I swear I’m getting deja vu typing this because I know I’ve written about writing my bio recently.
How meta… Writing about writing about writing an author bio. Whoa!!
At this point in the game I’ve written dozens. Tweaked them almost every time I get the urge to submit some of my writing somewhere new, which is probably every couple of weeks. Needless to say, I should have this down. It should be easy-peasy in the bag. But it turns out it’s not. This will be on my first book and not on some random web page or anthology nobody is going to read but me and my mom.
This is going to be the first impression many people get when they pick up the book and in time, part of the deciding factor. The decision for what you may ask.
Take it or leave it.. or rather, buy it or don’t. My entire universe hangs in the balance with these three or four paragraphs.
If it sounds like I’m being melodramatic it is because I am. I want to put a lot of weight on this because it means a lot to me.
And just now my brain did a brief departure from thoughts about the bio to dip into the pure terror that resides inside thoughts I have about the prospect of initiating a social media campaign to promote my book. Good grief… did I just type the words “social media campaign??!!” 🤮
Bring it back. Focus. This post is about writing a new, longer bio that is going to accompany the collection of poems I’m still not confident are good enough to be out in the wild world and available for public consumption.
I’ve googled how to write my bio. I can probably list the top 7 how to’s and tips for what makes a good biography. I’ve looked at dozens of examples.
About 90% of them start with this line…
“First Name Last Name is the <NYT> Best Selling author of seven books including “Book Title” which won the <insert fancy award here> prize. And yadda-yadda goes on from there to say some serious things and quirky things that reveal who they are, where they live, and what makes them tick.
Easy. I got this. Except…
This is my first book and I recently changed my life completely and am still struggling with a midlife identity crisis. Can I say that? Is that allowed or is it just too strange even for an ex IT engineer turned poet to admit to?
Five years from now when I grab a glass of red wine and pull that book off a nearby shelf and read the bio will I regret it if it’s too dry and boring or silly and impish. Will I care at all? Will I be working on my second NYT best selling book or will I have given it all up to chase some other yet undiscovered dream?
If you’d have asked me five years ago what I thought would happen in the next five years, I could not have predicted this. None of it.
Not the job changes and career dump. Not the Graduate degree in Poetry or meeting the man of my dreams and getting married. Most certainly not this book or the need to sum up who I am and what I’m about in three succinct paragraphs.
What I’m saying is, there’s no way to predict where I will be or what I will be doing five years from now. Guessing is a useless exercise.
All I can do is sit down and write something I can commit to for today. Something that’s factual but also let’s my personality shine through. That’s it.
Writing this has given me a few ideas and there’s no time like the present. If I try hard, I can still hit my deadline….. maybe.
PS. Putting off writing my bio by writing this blog post instead is a a part of my master plan. 😜