Thursday, December 3, 2009

The About You Section

Most writers who have a web presence, be it blog or web site or both, have an "About Me" section. Some are long-winded (ahem ahem, moi), some contain too much information. And there are the ones that might as well have never been there.

After reading a comment on an agent blog last week from a writer who spoke about his or her dream and efforts and ideas about getting published, I clicked on his/her profile. It took me to their blog, which serves as his/her site. And the About Me page says (this is cut and pasted):
Well this blog is all about me I suppose, some of it real, some it fiction, some of it my sense of humour.
So stay at while, if you like. [sic]
Well, wow. I have such a much better sense of who this writer is now. Thank you for that. I left immediately, because I had no sense of who they were--not even their gender. And therefore, I didn't want to waste my time. Other people might be more generous than I am, but I'm one of those people who likes the whole package of a person and what they're selling. In other words, I like to know who I'm dealing with.
I really think that for writers, the About Me section of your web site or blog really has to do some work--if you're public about your name and profile, that is. Otherwise, what are you doing?
Now let's look at the purpose of an About me section:
  • To display a professional profile of you as a writer
  • To show a sense of your personality
  • To show your writing experience, if any
  • To show visitors that you are a person and not a lizard
If those points didn't drive home how important it is to be clear in your About Me section, then let's look at who will read it (and don't doubt for a second that everyone who visits your site will look at who you are):
  • Agents who you have queried. Yes. This is a documented fact.
  • Editors you or your agent has queried. Also documented fact.
  • A reader/potential reader who wants to find out more.
  • Your ex boyfriends/girlfriends (so if you want to flaunt that Nobel Peace Prize that you got since you broke up, here's a good place to do it)
If THOSE points didn't drive home how important it is to have a succinct, clear, and professional (i.e. no Las Vegas party snaps) bio, then let's look at what your About Me section should contain (and while this is for writers, but I really think these guidelines can be adapted for anyone):
  • What you write - get at your reading audience by making this clear
  • If you've been published - sell books. duh!
  • If you're agented (not a requirement; some writers do not want to extend this info) - shows you're pro
  • Why you write - this is about connection with your audience
  • What you're doing now - shows that you're busy, working, and active. People will return to your site.
If I still haven't been clear, then let's look at what your About Me section should NOT contain:
  • Statements of your brilliance (that's for me to decide)
  • Pictures of your dog having its puppies
  • Vague promises of "news about me coming soon"
  • Rude remarks about other people
  • Your address
Here are some examples of both published and unpublished About Me pages that are good (and you will pardon my failure to exhaustively research this, please):
What do you think an About Me section should contain?


Travener said...

Lies. The crazier the better.

Jm Diaz said...

I can't beat Travener's response.
If you are gonna have delusions, might as well go for real grand ones.
I guess it all depends on what you want to expose on your blog. I'm not a big fan of the sites that feature "excerpts" of their unpublished work.

Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

This is great advice. My About Me section is poorly lacking because I kind of hate writing about myself. I probably should give it more thought. Thanks for the advice and examples.

Dawn Hullender said...

Very informative Sierra, I've often wondered what my bio should include.

Amber Tidd Murphy said...

Yipes. Now I feel like mine is lacking and I need to tweak it.

Sierra Godfrey said...

My services are available to anyone who needs them! Just let me know!

Tina Lynn said...

If you write mine, could you still include statements of my brilliance? :)

Meghan Ward said...

Great post, and thanks for linking, Sierra! This may be more about a person's home page than the about page, but I read an article (and now I can't find the link) that said 75% of people's websites begin with "Welcome" and that it's important to surprise people, not to bore them. That made me want to rewrite my about page. I also think it's important to have a photo of your self on your site, which I don't have. Photos of friendly looking people make me want to follow them!

Mary K. from L.A. said...

Good info, thanks, Sierra! (I "found" you through your guest post on Fiction Groupie, so big thanks to Roni too!)

Victoria Dixon said...

Excellent advice and I just rewrote my "What I'm About" section. ;D Thanks!

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