Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Are my teeth showing?

When Wizard is in touch with his inner tiger his canines show and he gets this expression similar to a smile.  I think I might be in touch with my inner tiger right now because I feel the teeth starting to poke.

I got an 185 word bio today.  Upper limit for bios is 150 words.  She said that she couldn't make her bio fit--so much to say, so little room because she's an artist and a writer.  Ahem.  

Ma'am, if you're reading this, I mean this in a loving way.

I sent a gentle email with some gentle suggestions back to the author.  Trimming 35 words took me about as many seconds.  Changing word order.  Removing parenthetical comments.  I did take out two things that might have been valuable.  I'm sure she wanted to include how many books she had written in her two unpublished series.  But whether it's four or twenty, they're unpublished and that's where reader interest will end.  They have no access to these books for perusal, nor will twenty make more of an impression of expertise than two if they haven't been vetted in the market.  Editors will not inquire after them.  Agents will not care.  If she wants to plug 'em, she'll have to market them the way we all market our fiction. 

I removed unnecessary articles, over-descriptions ('near' replaces '20 miles west of' quite nicely) shortened middle school level to middle school, young adult to YA, removed poor from poor rural white trash, and so on.

I don't mind doing this, even if it means she's going to scream at me for touching her writing.  But.  If you're going to put a bio out into the world, whether it's to an agent, publisher, magazine, what have you, make golden statues of the gawd Economy and worship it.  Bounce it off of a few friends or a critique group just as you would any other writing.  And for pity's sake don't go over the word limit.  

As for the parenthetical comments, none of them belonged in a professional bio.  Relatively unpublished (one short story) writers plugging unpublished series of books should avoid bloat and cute parenthetical comments in their bios.  Editors will run away.  Trust me.  It's okay in a blog (at least I think so) and casual correspondence, but this bio will represent her as a professional on the website and in the souvenir books forever.  It should be taken as seriously as her writing, and based on that it looks like she doesn't take her writing seriously.

And therein may be the problem.  The assumption that editors and agents will make is that if you have a bloated bio, you're a bloated writer in general.  So be careful when you compose those bios.


Anonymous said...

Oh come on now. I am very, very sure this person, this short story yet unpublished writer, this artist whom no one probably understands and so on, knew perfectly well she would be over the limits and limitations set forth by whom ever and felt assured that you would excuse and allow her lengthy bio because, well, she must have said it best when saying she had so much to say, so little room. I mean, come on...or did I already say that? Nevermind, whatever, what have you, she is most likely and most probably someone important and how could you edit someone of her standing or level (let us leave the unpublished part out of it for now and the time being, shall we?)? Truly, no one understands artists today. Back in the day, when I was a relative poor rural white trash nobody, without paper and pencil or the means of which to read rules and regulations that were clearly written for someone other than myself, I had to scratch an imaginary bio out in the fine, silty dust that lay in drifts under my bedroom window with the pointy end of an antelope horn (not that it was using it anymore). And I remember all the days and nights (because there were lots and lots of them) when I would raise my tiny dirty fist to the heavens and swear that by God, I'd never go hungry again...or abide by some silly rules that limit my creativity and-

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C.S. said...

Geesh! A little wordy there :)

Kami said...

LOL! OMG I almost peed my pants!

The Moody Minstrel said...


Anonymous' comment was reasonably entertaining, but it lacked sufficient parenthetical comments.

Hey, just because an author is unpublished doesn't mean they don't have the right to drown you in embellished Narcissism!

Kami said...

Rights? This ain't a democracy, ya know! I could take away rights you ain't even thought of yet!

Oh wait, no I can't. I forgot. Sorry. Wrong rant.

Don't you know this is a capitalist pig society? If it ain't a truffle, I don't want it, got that?!