One: It reads like a job application form.
I do not need to know every single little job you have done since you were twelve and sold painted pebbles on the side of the road. Focus on the good stuff. The recent stuff. Also, avoid dates so you don't have to change it too often. If you want people to know more about you, link to your website. Easy. The idea is to make them want to click on your website.
Two: It lists every single literary publication you have ever had.
Yeah, italics are good. It means writing credits. It means other editors have thought your writing good enough to publish. But seriously, don't over-do it. It's boring. And who cares? We want to read about YOU. Just cut it down to the two or three, biggest and best ones you have. Honestly, when I read the bios, I skip over the italics. I want personality, not a resume. And I'm sure readers do too. Most readers out there are not going to know much about the names of literary magazines, so what's the point in focussing on them? Make them want to read your writing.
Three: It sounds arrogant.
If it's in first person, you run the risk sounding like the girl/boy in school who everyone pretended to love. Remember them? Yeah, they were the ones who had their side-kicks shove your head down the toilet and made you feel like a turd. Then. But you, the geek, have now got your shit together. Be humble. Be proud, but don't wave your money around. Best stick to third person. And facts. A little quirky wordplay goes a long way too.
Four: It tells us all about where you live and how handsome your husband/wife is.
Um ... need I say more? Seriously. It's like listening to a new mum tell you about how proud they are of the texture of their baby's poop.
It's toooooooooooooooo loooooooooooooooooong.
You are not writing a memoir. Stick to 50-100 words. The key to a perfect biography for me is when you utilize the three SSS. (Short, Smart, Sassy). The purpose of a bio, is not to list everything about you. It's to make people want to know more about you. Make them want to click on your blog to find out for themselves.
Here are a few good examples:
Karina Sims is a 26-year-old writer from Beaver Falls, British Columbia, Canada. She is the author of many short stories and an unpublished novel. Her interests include: long walks on the beach, candle lit dinners, world domination and cannibalism.
Alaine Benard’s publishing credits include; Louisiana Literature, The Rose & Thorn Journal, The New York Quarterly, blah, blah, blah. Benard is known as the ‘silent poet,’ writes and paints from dimly lit caves (currently in Baton Rouge), away from snakes and all liars. She loves bacon.
Kevin Ridgeway's work has most recently appeared in Golden Sparrow Literary Review, Quantum Poetry Magazine and Thunderclap! Press. He resides in Southern California in a shady bungalow with his girlfriend and their one-eyed cat. Check out his blog: blah.
Matt Hentschel was once a hired gunman, working in the comic industry, but is now more of a writer and illustrator pursuing his own ideas. His works (both written and illustrated) can be found at [website].
What other no-nos can you think of for writing an author biography?
*For more insider lit mag tips, check out the links HERE