Part Two? How quaint.
Last night I banged away at my keyboard, pulled dozens of books off my shelves, and googled “emerging author bios” seventeen different ways. My goal, of course, was to write one short, concise bio for the back of my pending book and one longer version for only the Universe (and my publisher) knows why.
It took me exactly four years to write something akin to all the examples I’d looked at. Name, geography, credentials, and experience with just enough personality to make it seem like I’m a real human. It’s not exactly inviting. It feels dry and academic and I hate it.
Well, hate is a strong word and I don’t exactly hate it. It’s more like I read it and it does not seem enticing. It’s also tough to come up with stuff to say in a way that somehow glosses over the fact that I’m very new at this publishing thing. Most bios I read start off by gushing about previous awards and books published and I just don’t have that. But I have to start somewhere.
Anyway, the short bio got written and I’m mostly satisfied. Then I had a little fun writing the “alternate” version. The one that was easy and oozing with my humor and charm. Yes. I can be funny. I actually like to be funny. And so that exercise was satisfying.
Just about then my darling husband came up the stairs and I read him both versions. He said about the first…
“It’s well written and I can tell that you thought through each sentence and carefully selected each word.”
His reaction to the second one?
“Yes! You nailed it! That’s the one!”
At that point I closed my laptop and decided I needed to go to bed. I gave up on my deadline and promised myself I would revisit it first thing in the morning.
When the morning arrived I kept that promise. I made a few minor edits of both short bios. I collected all the other items the publisher had asked for and I finally, FINALLY, pulled the trigger in sending those emails. The only thing missing at that point was the long bio.
Which short bio did I send? The answer is both.
I even asked my friend M what she thought. She laughed at the second one and said she’d definitely read the book of that person. What’s a girl to do? 🤷♀️
Some feedback from my publisher will be invaluable. I wonder if and when I will get that. I still owe them the long bio and in my opinion, it will be helpful to know if the two (short and long) will be in close quarters with each other.
If, for example, the short one appears on the back of the book and the longer one at the end of the book on the inside, then I’d want to minimize repeating using the same language.
If, though, one is for the book and another is for mailers or postcards or other promotional material, then I can repeat certain phrases and elements and not be troubled by it.
Am I overthinking this?
Yes, of course I am. That’s my Way.
In any case, as I began to struggle with the longer bio today, what I ended up doing was combining the two, adding an element that M suggested, and then changing some of the verbiage so that it didn’t sound too similar to either, shorter version.
And there you have it folks. The finishing line of the deadline for The Finishing Line Press. How apropos.
That’s it for today. Right??
I realized just when I was wrapping up this post that going on and on and on about these bios without actually including them is like setting up a joke and then never getting telling the punchline. Kinda worthless. Well.. not worthless but likely very unsatisfying. So here are the bios mainstream short, humorous short, and long:
Official (95 Words)
Shyla Shehan is a writer and engineer born and blossomed in the Midwest. She holds an MFA in Writing from the University of Nebraska where she received an American Academy of Poets Prize in 2020. Shyla is Co-founder and Editor of The Good Life Review and currently lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband, children, and four cats. She enjoys digging in the dirt, road trips, and she accidentally breeds snails in her spare time. Her full bio and an account of her published work are available at shylashehan.com. This is her first book.
Alternate / Humorous (99 Words)
Shyla Ann Shehan is the New York Times bestselling author of eleven books of poetry, essays, and flash-forward fiction that have not been written yet. Her most noteworthy accomplishment to date is divorcing her (now former) career as a Healthcare IT Integration Specialist. Since then, she has pledged her undying love and fealty to Poetry but has so far refused to get matching tattoos. Shyla spends most days tending to a healthy household and accidentally breeds snails in her spare time. She is currently suffering a mini-midlife identity crisis over writing this bio for her first book, Unsuspecting Cinderella.
Long (209 Words)
Shyla Shehan is a writer and engineer born and blossomed in the Midwest. She holds an MFA in Writing from the University of Nebraska where she leveled up her poetry game and discovered that the writing life has more to offer than just a way to cope with the chaos of the Universe.
Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Academy of American Poets, Plainsongs Summer 2021 by Corpus Callosum Press, Gyroscope Review, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts by Matter Press, and elsewhere. Her most noteworthy accomplishment to date is divorcing her (now former) career as a Healthcare IT Integration Specialist. Since then, she has pledged her undying love and fealty to Poetry but has so far refused to get matching tattoos.
Shyla is Co-founder and Editor of The Good Life Review and currently lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband, children, and four cats. She spends most days tending to a healthy household and she accidentally breeds snails in her spare time. That’s a joke; she has no spare time.
She is currently suffering a mini-midlife identity crisis over writing this bio for her first book, Unsuspecting Cinderella but is nonetheless grateful to you for reading and hopes you will visit shylashehan.com for more.
Now that’s it. I’m sure of it. And it is most certainly enough. Good gravy.
With peace and love and fluffy new kittens,
PS. If you have an opinion, I would be interested to hear it. No joke.. I really would.