Putting the entirety of your life’s works, experiences, and accomplishments into a few sentences can be a daunting task even for the most talented writer, and one filled with lots of uncertainty. What do I include? What do I leave out? Should I be brief but not too brief? Do they care where I went to school?
Writing a bio– like writing– is more of an art than a science. We’re here to help you hone this art, and write bios that best showcase yourself to the industry. Recently, we reached out to our network of literary reps who provided kernels of wisdom to guide you in writing your best bio.
1. Share your unique voice and perspective
“Focus on what makes you unique.” – Cassie Duffy, Kaplan-Perrone
“How would you pitch yourself on why you NEED to be hired?” – Audrey Knox, Cartel
When writing a bio, many writers feel a need to mention general information about their hometown, where they went to school, or why Reservoir Dogs is their favorite movie. The problem is, that info is true for thousands if not tens of thousands of other writers. When including info, really focus on what perspective or characteristics you have that set you apart from the crowd. Be weary of putting your educational highlights, especially if you went to a common writing school (“…everyone’s gone to USC”).
2. Connect with them and make them smile
“Be funny. And if you can’t be funny; have style.” – Harris Kauffman, Storyboard
Get creative with the writing– you are a writer after all. If you’re a comedy writer, your bio should definitely include a joke or two. If you’re more on the drama side, your bio definitely shouldn’t make anyone cry, but it should display some of the writing craft you’re asking this person to read more of. Avoid anything standardized at all costs.
3. Keep it short
“Only include information that matters.” – Derrick Eppich, Empirical Evidence
If your bio is longer than 3-4 sentences, cut cut cut. This is an elevator pitch about yourself, not an autobiographical book. Imagine you’re speaking your bio, word for word, to a manager, agent, or producer. How long would you make it before you’ve lost their attention, or worse, they interrupt you to get on with it? You have even less time to make an impact on your bio. The sweet spot is three sentences and between 300-400 characters following the structure of: recent accomplishment or development, overview of your career, and something that sets you apart.
4. Hook them from the beginning
“Put the most recent and most impressive stuff first.” – Audrey Knox, Cartel
When writing their bios, many writers feel a need to start at the beginning and work their way to the present. Just like a great script, you need to hook your audience at the very beginning, otherwise they toss the script. Start with the most impactful items first. Andlike a resume, you should start with the most recent, relevant, and impressive experience at the top.
5. Reference your industry knowledge
“Showcase your industry mentorships and referrals.” – Cassie Duffy, Kaplan Perrone
Managers and agents need the assurance that you know the business, and that you’re going to represent them well in meetings and other business situations. If you have industry experience, definitely include that in your bio. If not, any industry creator, professional, or mentors will go a long way in legitimizing and validating your work.
A few examples:
To help you write a compelling bio, here are some inspirational bios, and some lackluster bios. Note: we’ve edited these from actual bios so as not to call-out individual writers.
Interesting Career History
Samantha’s journey into professional writing started as an aide for a notorious politician during a scandal. Seeing the power of story to affect change, she enrolled at AFI film school. Her directorial debut short film THE SKYLINE is currently available on Amazon and her pilot THE DOLPHIN placed in the top 15% for Nicholl just last month.
The Accolades Bio
Starting as a plucky young assistant for Werner Herzog, Evan was integral in developing several features and series for his company. He utilized his co-producer credit as a springboard to write his short STALKER, which has been featured on Vice, Amazon, and Quibi. He is currently an assistant in the writer’s room for the Fox series, THE BOOK OF ESTHER.
The Witty Bio
Molded by his small, North Dakota hometown and all the opportunity that it offered — none — Jonas’s passion for writing spawned from a desire to entertain — himself, first and foremost.. After accumulating a diverse and extensive body of work at The University of Minnesota, he headed to Los Angeles, where he is currently working as a writer’s PA on TNT’s WRESTLING IS REAL.
Please avoid Bios like these:
The Generic Info Bio
I was born in Southeast Michigan and graduated from Michigan State with a bachelors in Communication. I moved to Los Angeles five years ago and currently work in sales. I write in my free time and would like to be staffed on a network show.
The Irrelevant Personal Taste Bio
I have been a screenwriter ever since I fell in love with Raiders of the Lost Ark. I now specialize in Spielbergian action projects and love to tell stories of underdogs overcoming unconquerable odds.
The Long-Winded Bio
Born on the majestic enchanting shores of Hollywood California, I was the second of three children to an accountant and a school teacher. My grandfather, also an accountant, would sit me on his knee by the fireside of my parent’s Cape Cod style cottage and tell me bedtime stories that left me with a sense of wonder and a desire to create stories of my own. After graduating high school with mostly A’s and B’s, I went north to a state university where I majored in English after switching from Business. I learned lots and partied equally as much, but knew that once I was finished, I had to return to Los Angeles in order to pursue my writing career. My first feature placed as a quarterfinalist in Austin, ScreenCraft, PAGE, BlueCat, Slamdance, and the Oklahoma Film Festival, while my pilot placed as a semifinalist in Austin, Nicholl, Script Pipeline, Tracking Board, and Scriptapalooza. I am now currently developing my third feature and looking for producers that specialize in broad comedy social thrillers. Links to my Facebook, Twitter, website, and portfolio below. You can believe me when I say: I have stories that rival my grandfather’s.
Oh, and it should go without saying, but…
“Don’t lie!” – Everyone
Being a writer and being self-conscious goes hand in hand. It may be tempting to fill a bio with embellishments or half-truths to make your body of work sound impressive but DON’T DO IT. While you want to put your best foot forward, any rep will be able to see through it and you might end up burning a bridge instead of simply getting a pass.
Ready? Get started perfecting your Bio on your Coverfly Profile now!