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Making the Most of Your Bio: You Are More Than a Writer
By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author and editor now celebrating the release of the third edition of The Frugal Editor with picky editing tips like this one
Have you ever had a word start out as a normal word and then curdle on you. It’s as if a perfectly good word went sour or started feeling lumpy or at least smelling slightly acidic. And the process sort of creeps up on you.
That’s what’s happened to me with the word content. Today I finally internalized it enough to be aware of how annoying it had become when I answered a LinkedIn request to connect from a young woman whose mini bio just said “content writer.”
I can’t even fathom why someone would call themselves that. Well, OK. I can. They want the broadest term possible for a writer (but then just “writer” does that). Or their employer has ungraciously given that title to them and they feel obligated to perpetrate it.
So what is she? Novelist. Memoirist? Poet? Journalist? Essayist? Copywriter? Maybe she’s “just” a writer of articles but doesn’t that sound as if she’s demeaning that process? It takes a certain skill to write in ways that help others. If the job at hand is as simple as helping a dad assemble a bicycle for his son, it requires organization skills. An ability to help people visualize. Maybe motivational skills (or inspirational skills) to get Dad to tackle that project. And a little humor wouldn’t hurt.
One of writing’s basic tenets is to use specifics to help create an image. That image in turn inspires the reader to generalize, to make the situation—however removed it is from their own lives—seem part of his own.
Please help me with this crusade. Look at your job description. If you say “writer,” try to be more specific. If you’re a reporter, say so. If you are more than that, say so. “Reporter by day, poet by night.” Humor is nice, but not required. What is required is that you don’t diminish what it is you do. You do a lot more than pick up a pencil or tap on a keyboard. No matter what you write, it’s more (and better than) content. Content is filler. Content is tiresome. I can’t think of any kind of writing that isn’t more than content. So add your bio to any story you tell. Go out there and make yourself count for something.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers and the classes she has taught for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. She brings that experience (along with her editing skills) to the newly released third edition of The Frugal Editor. The second in her #HowToDoItFrugally Series of books, it has been honored by USA Book News and won Readers’ Views Literary Award. Her marketing campaign for that book won the marketing award from New Generation Indie Book Awards. The second edition e-book was honored by Next Generation Indie Awards.
The flagship book in the #HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers is the much-honored The Frugal Book Promoter, also in its third edition.
Good point, Wanda. All kinds of writers will find a slew of query letter tips in both #TheFrugalEditor and #TheFrugalBookPromoter. And some samples of query letters in the appendix of both which, because books and projects vary so wildly, can be used to give writers of all genres ideas for their own query!