I admire people who can deliver brilliant summaries of their life and career in such a way that its encourages people to pick up their books. It seems to me that everyone’s biography is better than mine. If you stroll around my various biographies, on blogs, sales pages and social media, you’ll find some variations on the theme.
The ‘What are your strengths” question
I read other people’s biographies and admire them. They sparkle with wit and personality. Mine don’t seem to, in my eyes. Some people have that knack of presenting themselves in the best possible light; others shy away, trying to hide their light under a bushel – just read the books, don’t worry about who I am. And you know what – that’s just who we are. It’s exactly the same when it comes to ‘selling’ yourself in a job interview. Some people can list their strengths and point out exactly why you should hire them without batting an eyelid. Others mumble and stumble, wishing the earth would swallow them up. I should know, I used to be a recruiter – I have done thousands of job interviews… and I’m rubbish when it comes to being interviewed!
The key thing is – you know this question is coming. It’s something you can, and should, prepare.
And it’s no different for author biographies. Everyone has to have one. Biographies have an advantage over the job question: we can write and rewrite it until we’re satisfied, and we can change it after the event.
The critical thing about my first bio is that I was caught between two stools. Confession: Jemima is a pen name. The question became ‘Who is Jemima Pett?’ I decided that she was me, to a point; there was no benefit of doing my own life story if I wasn’t writing under my own name. So a whole load of things have been skimmed into their relevance to Jemima as an author. In fact, that is absolutely no different from tailoring your strengths for a job interview question.
As time has gone on, more of the ‘me’ has become Jemima. It may be the name I write under, but I am now Jemima as much as I am J M (which is how I do legal things, like my copyright). The Jemima Pett you find on the blog now is the me as I am, but the author me, rather than some character I had invented.
It may be time to update my biography.
So, the cute little book that I wrote when I was eight years old may go, and the apology for not writing fiction for years because I was told I was rubbish may go. That comment may help others, but I don’t want it in my biography. I say I had no plot or characters to write about – but really, I had both. I didn’t write about them because I believed I couldn’t. The guinea pigs who inspired the Princelings of the East were better, though!
Am I ready to write this new biography? Check back at letter U, which may well be “Updating my Biography” 🙂
What do you think? Is describing yourself as painful as it is for me? Got any tips to share?