How to Write a Good Bio

As you can tell from my “about the author” blog page, different media have different ideal bios. I certainly wouldn’t send that whole thing to a magazine, and under normal situations I would not send it to a curator of a reading series either. A good straightforward bio has a few essential components, and it’s basically formulaic. You need: your name (obviously), your location, your most recent most major publications, and if you would like to add a personal detail or your day job that is fine too. URLs are important to include if you have one.

So, some bios I might write would look like this:

(super short) Jessica Smith lives in Buffalo, where she edits Outside Voices Press. She is the author of Organic Furniture Cellar (2006).

(short) Jessica Smith lives in Buffalo, where she teaches writing at SUNY Buffalo and edits Outside Voices Press and Foursquare magazine. Recent publications include Organic Furniture Cellar (OV 2006) and What The Fortune-Teller Said (a+bend/dusie, 2009). View her work online at

In almost no situation do you need to include the following: grants, scholarships, or other awards (save it for the c.v.); your full job title and description (again, it’s not a c.v. or resume, it’s a bio); your entire life history (where you grew up, where you live now, a passing comment about your family or pets may be fine); your recent magazine publications (no one gives a crap about what obscure magazine recently accepted your work– stick to chapbooks and full-length books unless you’ve never published one).

Don’t be intimidated by the bio. Just crack one out according to the formula. Even with the formula, everyone’s is going to be different! Of course, fictionalized and creative bios are always fun too, but it’s not necessary to do that.


About Jessica Smith
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One Response to How to Write a Good Bio

  1. Thank you for this.

    I’m currently stumped on the Bio part. I’ve written plenty of poetry throughout the years and I finally think I should start sending them out and stop looking at them as some sort of hobby.

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