Monday, November 15, 2010

It All Started When ...

Have you noticed? We are awash with biographies. I'm not moaning about the plethora of celebrity memoirs piled up on the 3 for 2 tables in bookshops this Christmas (although publishers were saying last year that the celebrity memoir had had its day), but instead, the short biographies in magazines.

Appearing either at the foot of an article or under a 'Contributor List' on the contents page, more editors want to share some of their writers' lives with their readers.

If you spot your target publication giving the lowdown on its writers, then you should consider including one with your submission. As always, copy the style and format of the biographies used in your target publication.

"But I'm only a beginner!" I hear you cry. "I've nothing to say in my biography!"

Rubbish! Take a closer look at the biogs in your target magazine and you'll see that they sell the writer's experience in the topic they're writing about, not their writing credentials. Take the latest issue of Lakeland Walker magazine and one of its contributors, Andy Stothert:

Andy has been wandering about on the Lakeland fells for over forty years and his passion for the high places of the Lake District is stronger than ever. His passion is his work, as he earns his crust mainly from taking photos of this astounding landscape.

See? This tells the reader why Andy knows what he's talking about in his article - he's been wandering the Lake District for over forty years. He's an expert on this subject, which is why you should read the article. And that's what you need to do remember when writing your biographies.

  • Mention the key facts that sell yourself as an expert.
  • Keep it short.
  • Make it appropriate for your readership.
Here's my biography that appears at the end of my article in this month's Ezee Writer feature, entitled 'Success With Series' - an article about writing non-fiction books.

Simon Whaley is a tutor for the Writers Bureau and the author of over 400 articles. He has also written several short stories and nine non-fiction books, including the bestselling “100 Ways For A Dog To Train Its Human.” You can follow more of Simon’s advice at his ‘Simon Says!’ blog: and

You can read the article at

For an article about organising self-catering breaks in the UK for Holiday Cottages magazine, my biography read as follows:

Simon Whaley has been organising self-catering holidays in the UK for nearly twenty years. These breaks have ranged from a week's solo self-catering in Scotland, to organising short breaks for groups of up to 12 in Wales. He's been stuck up one-in-three gradients, bullied by ghosts and marvelled at the view of the local cement works in a national park. In his opinion, you can always tell the quality of a self-catering cottage by the state of its frying pan.

Two different biographies aimed at two different markets, but both about the same person!

So, next time you send off an article, consider revealing a little bit more about yourself ... but not too much!

Good luck.