Q: Dear Publishing Advisors,
A lot of publications ask for a bio to go along with the submission. I do not have many publications and the ones I do have are not up to the same standards as the magazines I’m now submitting to. By nature I am more comfortable not tooting my own horn and by circumstance I don’t have much to toot. Can I be self deprecating in my bio?
A: Dear Identity Crisis,
This is a fantastic question. One of our advisors runs a literary magazine where dozens of writers submit their biographies alongside various types of submissions. Depending on the submission (whether it’s humorous or morose) the biographies can vary. Despite the different types of tone, respect is always present. Respect for yourself is just as important as respect for the magazine.
A bio is who you are. If you don’t take yourself seriously, why should they? Self deprecation may seem like a charming attitude for a humor magazine, but if you choose to go that route, save it for the cover letter. When mentioning publications of a lower tier, no magazine wants to read that you are less than enthusiastic about (or making fun of) another publication. Some day you may put down their magazine in your bio.
The best thing to do when writing a biography is to be short, concise, and serious. Bragging, listing more than three publications, or rambling on for more than four sentences is generally frowned upon.
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