Wednesday, 29 May 2013

I love me, what’s your hobby?

Writing your biographical note By Derek Duggan

There comes a point in every writer’s career where you will have to write a biography about yourself to stick on the fly leaf of your book. Simple, you might think, I can knock one out faster than a UKIP voter can say ‘I’m not a racist.’ But is it really that easy?

As anyone who has ever seen The Apprentice knows, when people talk themselves up they simply sound like the kind of person you’d like to see being made to lick up some dog sick. It’s a tricky thing and no matter how good you think you are at it you will always walk the fine line between coming over as a massive cock and coming over as a slightly less massive cock. This is further compounded for authors by the fact that you have to write the piece in the third person, the massive cockest of all the persons.

You might think that an easy way out of this is simply to get someone else to write it for you, but be advised – this won’t work as the reader is going to assume you wrote it yourself (unless you’re Katie Price in which case the reader will assume that you didn’t even write this bit).

So, what should you do? First it’s important to consider the genre of book you’ve written. More than anything else this has a giant bearing on what you need to include.

The most basic of all biographies is reserved for works of fiction. When asked to provide one of these here is an example of what to do –

Jessica Writer is the author of three novels including the critically acclaimed I’m a Writer. She lives in Holland with her husband and two daughters.

And that’s it. Many authors get this right, but there are an alarming number of people out there who take this opportunity to write a two thousand word essay about themselves. If you’ve won a relevant award, like the Booker or something, this will already be included on your cover, so there’s no need to put it in again. The full list of your other works will already be included and you can stick in a few quotes from various reviews on a separate page so you don’t have to include them again in your biography.

However, if you’re writing non-fiction you might like to include your qualifications and any relevant experience and so on.

Doctor Jessica Writer is a doctor and has done a lot of doctor things to do with medicine. This book is all about medicine so she knows what she’s talking about. She lives in Brazil with her Doctor husband and her children who are healthy because she’s a good doctor with mediciny knowledge. She qualified at being a doctor in a university and she works in a hospital.

This sort of thing is absolutely necessary because otherwise people might think you don’t know what you’re talking about. Many an excellent non-fiction tome has been let down in this way.

Books about food are divided into two categories, that of How to Cook It and Go on a Diet and this means that the biographies and especially the photos that go with it have to be very carefully chosen indeed. The photo in these cases is actually far more important than the words which accompany them. If you have written a How to Cook It book then you will need a very glossy shot of you looking happy and a bit unfit. Nigella Lawson, for example, often includes a photo of herself which has been mercilessly Photoshopped so that it resembles a person who has had their skin stretched around three hundred kilos of butter which coincidently is eighty per cent of the ingredients you will need to cook any of the recipes contained within. A short paragraph about yourself will do.

Jessica Writer has been eating food ever since she can remember. She eats, sleeps and drinks food. She loves food so much that she once ate the hind leg off the lamb of God. She lives in France with her husband and two cherubby children.

On the other hand, if you have written a Go on a Diet book, ideally you will need to have a picture of yourself looking extremely fit and wearing yoga gear with your midriff bare. If this worries you simply photoshop your head onto a picture of Jessica Ennis and Bob’s your mother’s brother. The words which accompany this should be similar to that of the Cook Book writer’s with just a few subtle yet important differences.

Jessica writer has been eating healthy food ever since she decided to lose weight. She eats well, sleeps soundly and drinks anything she can liquidize. She feels as fresh as a lamb. She lives in California with her husband, two dogs and a cat.

The authors who walk the finest line of all are those whose books fall into the self-help/esoteric category. Research has shown that the amount of units you shift is in direct proportion to how mental you make yourself sound in your biography. However, it’s not as simple as just starting out by saying you feel at one with the world because you drink a litre of goat spunk every morning. You have to lead into it, make yourself sound relatively normal and like you know all about the real world and then through a short series of seemingly logical steps work up to the goat jizz consumption.

Jessica Writer worked in the city for twelve years. Although extremely financially successful she felt her personal life was unfulfilling and out of control. She was surrounded by people and yet always felt alone. She tried many thing – yoga, meditation, a healthy diet, but none of these seemed to be doing the trick. And that’s when she found that ingesting a litre of man goat muck every day made her truly happy. And now she wants to share the secret with you.

And there you have it. Simply pick the relevant template for your book and success is practically guaranteed (disclaimer – success is not actually guaranteed).

Glad I could help.

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