Monday, July 21, 2014

Author Bios

There are two types of author bios: the ones on your product page, and the ones that aren't.

The bio on your product page, you see, has all of your books linked nearby. The reason the browser is reading it is often to see if you know anything or have done anything that lends credibility / interest / bias to that particular book, right before they scroll down to the reviews.

The bio on your convention booklet / printed book / guest blog / etc. is going to read by reader who think "Okay, what's he written? I've heard of/liked this one, are there any more?"

So when you're staring at that blank box that says bio, remember what the reader wants, and try to put in a hook that shows you know a little about your subjects. Or put in "Peter Grant, Author of the Maxwell series including Take The Star Road, Ride The Rising Tide, and Adapt and Overcome, and the new Laredo War series, War to the Knife..." so the customer knows what else to look up on their smartphone or at the merchie's booth.

... minor rant here ...

Of course, one eternal problem of getting men who've been there and done that (and to heck with a t-shirt, they have the patches, challenge coins, out-of-place reflexes and scars to prove it) is that, as a rule, they don't talk about it. I learned a lot about bush flying from a quiet, kindly, thoughtful gent with a laid-back 'absentminded professor' persona that belied a mind sharp as a tack. If I hadn't known him for several years, I would never have managed to start piecing together the timeline of just when and where in SouthEast Asia and Africa he was. (A little harder than normal, because the USA wasn't, ahem, there.

Similarly, Calmer Half has seen a lot more of Africa's heart of darkness than he'll ever admit to in casual conversation, and J. L. Curtis - OldNFO to his blog and ATH readers - has far more acquaintance with things that never happened in places we never were than he'll ever say. But try to get these men to write a bio? "22 years in the Navy", OldNFO says. "Humanitarian work", Calmer Half says. And to those who don't know, this gives no clue that they know anything of which they write.

Were I to try and badger them into blowing their own horn, the response would be a mild look, and a head shake. "Oh, no, I was just there. I'm not one of the real hardcore guys." (I know they don't train 'em to say this, but its pretty universal. My neighbor as kid, holding a cup of coffee in his gnarled hand and recounting to us kidsthe day he was on a tiny boat moving the mail pouches from one ship to another, when the Japs attacked and sank the ship he was serving on... "Oh, I was just there. I was only doing what I had to.")

Now, you take some REMF whose only acquaintance with actual shots fired is his quals, and they'll blow their horn all day long about how they were a super soldier in the war on terror. And the military will all groan, and the civvies will all go "Oh! Somebody who knows what they're writing about!"

I'm not even going to try to get the real men to blow their own horn. Well, I might badger Calmer Half a little, because I married him, but I recognize it's the sport of throwing yourself at a mountain and trying to get the mountain to move.

As for OldNFO - well, I'll just tell you to buy this book, and join me in badgering him for the next one, 'cause I know it's getting close to publication (and the badgering won't hurry him, just amuse him). It's a slower-moving thriller, one that takes time to explore the ties of families who live together for generations on Texas ranches, and of the people who work and serve together, instead of trying to jump from action to action like a red bull commercial.


  1. Thank you and I was there... Did what I was supposed to. Thanks for the nice words about the book too! :-)

  2. See, this is where I could reply all full of hilarity and mock outrage "See? You see what these authors leave a poor little marketer like me to deal with?"

    But it'd be hard to talk past my tongue stuck firmly in my cheek. :-D

  3. I still enjoy the reactions uninformed people display when they're told that you married an African.


  4. You're all a hoot, and I wouldn't have it any other way;). That's why I keep coming back.

  5. Yes Peter, but I know her wit, charm, flying skills and classic beauty weren't all the sold you, there was the herd of cattle that her father was paying by way of dowry :-)