If you don’t have one, you should maintain a standard author bio

Had an editor get in touch with me today asking for my bio, and I sent them my standard bio, which I change quite frequently, but currently looks something like:

Rahul Kanakia’s first book, a contemporary young adult novel called Enter Title Here, is coming out from Disney-Hyperion in August ’16. Additionally, his stories have appeared or are forthcoming in ApexClarkesworld, Lightspeed, The Indiana Review, and Nature. He holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins and a B.A. in Economics from Stanford, and he used to work in the field of international development. Originally from Washington, D.C., Rahul now lives in Berkeley. If you want to know more you can visit his blog at http://www.blotter-paper.com or follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/rahkan

Not a big deal. I have a file on my computer called Author Bio, and it contains the above. Some people are even more organized than me. They have THREE author bios. They’ve got a one-line bio and they’ve got a one-paragraph bio and they’ve got a full-page bio. Actually, come to think of it, I really need to write a one-page bio, because it’s not uncommon for people to ask me for one of those.

Anyway, I remember once upon a time I did not have this file. In that far-off day (which wasn’t actually that long ago), I’d write my bio from scratch each time. That’s not as silly as it sounds, because requests for a bio were so infrequent that I figured by the time someone asked for another one, I would’ve done enough things that it’d be entirely different. Then there was an interim period, where when I’d get a request for a bio, I’d go back and find a story I’d published and copy/paste my bio from that story. But then one day I got real and started writing a standardized bio that I could modify and tinker with over time.

My bio goes through plenty of revisions. It used to contain other information that’s now since vanished. I’m also thinking of dropping all the degrees, because they come off a bit elitist. I mean, let’s face it, they are elitist, and it’s a bit silly, since getting a B.A. from Stanford or an M.F.A. from JHU has nothing to do with being a good writer (and, moreover, it’s much harder to, say, sell a story to Clarkesworld than it is to get into Stanford, so it doesn’t really even add much to my impressiveness). But for now the degrees shall remain.

I also not infrequently find typos in my bio. In fact, I just found one (I’d omitted the ‘in’ between ‘forthcoming’ and ‘Apex’)! A bit embarrassing, actually.

Some people like to put quirky things in their bio. They’ll write about their cat or put in a nerd-joke about how they spend their days being chased around the house by a giant squid or I don’t know something like that. This is such a common practice that it’s hard for me to condemn it. I think it’s all about the image you’re trying to project. There’s often an I-am-of-the-people quality to SF writers’ images. They might’ve written this book, but they’re just ordinary people with mortgages and children, who put on their pants one leg at a time, just like you. And I think that the cat thing might help with that. Anyway, that is not how I roll.

Oh, you should also get a headshot! Some people use author photos that are a bit like, ehh, do you really want this to be a thousand peoples’ first glimpse of your face?

I got my headshot done in a hurry, on the day that my agent was sending our deal report to Publisher’s Marketplace. My roommate at the time, Summer Greer, is a semi-professional photographer, and I sent him a panicked text that was like, “Summer! Can you take a headshot for me FAST?!?!”

Me!
Me!

I’d recommend that you have one on hand before the need arises, so you don’t have to go out with something substandard.

These are little things, but they’re good to think about, and once you have them, you’ll be surprised by how often you use them.

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