You’ve stunned the literary world with your 100-word short story on The Rebel Philatelist website. But your 45-word bio is punchless. You need ways to kick it up a notch.
Unfortunately, many authors open up bland, “Fauna Philpong is an aspiring writer…” Of course you are an aspiring writer. You’re being published, so skip the “aspiring”. Instead, fire the rockets with bold embellishment, saying you are a transactional proctologist, or maybe a transcendentalist coal miner.
“…but is polishing her skills as a wordsmith…” Tacky. Change it to “story jockey” or “ink slinger” or “scribbleturist”.
“…with an MFA from Bard College or Princeton.” Old hat. Your GED in Poetic Crit is from a more prestigious campus—say Trump University.
“… teaches writing part-time…” Scores points. Every author from J.C. Oates to Stephen King has had a classroom gig to pay the bills. So go ahead, volunteer to teach a one-hour creative writing zoom class to a cellblock C Lifers’ pod at the Federal Prison Camp at Yankton, South Dakota. It will pay off.
“…She resides with her perfect family in a gated community in Palm Springs, California.” No. No. No. More traction comes from enduring hard times in someplace bananas—say Florida—or having a trans-species relationship in the Cajun swamps south of New Orleans, where alligators court authors and the steamy humidity never leaves a dry armpit.
Genre? “…and she massages the limits of Y/A romcom.” Look, we know you won’t cop to writing supermarket potboilers. Instead, upgrade your genre and lay it on thick. “…delves into 16th century European aero-flatulism” is better. No one will have any idea what the hell you are talking about.
“…her muse is her neighbor’s 300-pound Galapagos turtle Erato.” Too cutesy. How about a catchy escape fantasy? “…She gets inspiration speeding down the literary superhighway in a big old Cadillac convertible while getting hammered with Jack Kerouac and Lillian Hellman.”
“…Her influences are Bronté, Martha Stewart, and Walt Disney.” Not exactly gritty. Let’s add Bukowski, Gertrude Stein, and Cormac McCarthy.
“…She has been published in Blarg, a humor weekly; Goth Quarterly; Infectious Disease Trials; and the Six Flags Employee Newsletter.” Weak. You’ve got to perk this up, so toss in a few misspelled A-list pubs. Like McSleeneys, The Atlandis, or bien sûr, the Paris Revuke.
Finally, wrap it up with a dog story. “…and she shares tortured creative nights with her rescue pit bull Flannery.” Readers love authors who cherish pets, especially if the animals are named after famous writers. No need to make excuses about Flannery chewing up a couple of Labradoodles last week at the Sherman Oaks Dog Park. You paid off the owners to keep it out of social media.
That’s it. And with this bio, you will encounter a blizzard of royalty checks. I promise.
John Hewitt is a scribbleturist living a fiery life in the U.S. West. His last novel was Freezer Burn, the story of a nearly dead ferret making music history.