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'10 Authors Insider Tips

Cooking Up A Storey
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Character Profiles
Discovery Draft
Be Bad to Be Good
E-Book Revolution
Naked for Halloween
Sex With Pilgrims


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The Fine Art of Submission
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Nailing the Query Letter
Banish the Boring Bio
Becoming a Market Master
Become a Market Master, 2
Backstory & Foreshadowing
Enticing An Editor, Part 1
Enticing An Editor, Part 2
Contracts, Money & More


Serious about Smut
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Editors' Pet Peeves
Settings: Beyond Time & Place
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'10 Smutters Lounge

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Between the Lines
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Lucy Felthouse
Neve Black
PS Haven
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Tresart L. Sioux


Cracking Foxy
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Plenty of Miles Left
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Fly the Unfriendly Skies
Coffee Time
Castrated Words
Virtual vs. Actual Romance
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Get All Worked Up
with J.T. Benjamin
The Fashion Industry
The Same Old Same Old
Writing Porn
About the Closet
... About Spirituality
Making Sense of Religion
Worked Up About Monogamy
What's Next
All Worked Up About Nature
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Sex Is All Metaphors
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Holiday Ghosts
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Sex and Children
People Against Bad Things
Virtual Acceptance
His Cold Eyes, His Granite Jaw
A Flash of Northern Light

The Fine Art of Submission:

How to Properly & Professionally Prepare,
Package and Present Your Work To Markets
by Shanna Germain

Banish the Boring Bio:
How to Promote Yourself with Class, Verve, and Sass

 

Shanna Germain

As I was getting ready to write this column, I saw a Facebook post from one of my favorite editors that said something like this: "Does your bio mention the name of your pet? If so, understand that no-one is going to take you seriously."

Now, there are a few, very specific times when you can and should include the name of your pet in your bio (I'll get to those examples later), but for the most part, she was absolutely right. If your current erotic bio lists the names of your cat, your kids, your husband and your pet goldfish, it's time to rethink how you're presenting yourself.

Going too personal, ala "WriterGirl lives with her cat, an orange tabby named Sourpuss" is one big mistake that writers often make when it comes to creating bios. Why is it a mistake? Because almost everyone's had a cat, a kid, a husband or a goldfish. We've been there, done that. Not to mention: Come on, you write erotica! What's erotic about a goldfish? (Okay, don't answer that...)

On the other hand, going too impersonal doesn't work very well either. Often, I see bios (and once, to my chagrin, had a bio) much like this:

Shanna Germain is a writer and editor based in Portland, OR. Her fiction has appeared in more than 100 anthologies, websites and magazines, including Best American Erotica, Best Gay Romance, Best Lesbian Erotica [on and on and on]. Visit her web site at www.shannagermain.com

Booooring, right? And if not boring, then certainly a little pretentious. Sure, it lets everyone know how great you are... but only if they can wade through the dull text. And, really, you spent all that time crafting a superb, original and creative story, why would you make such a boring bio to go with it?

Bios—especially erotic bios—should, in my opinion, contain an element of mystery, of sexuality and sensuality, of delights untold and promises unspoken. They should, in essence, be much like your stories.

If your current bio reads like either a note to grandma or a note from academia, not to worry. Writing an unforgettable bio is actually pretty easy. It just takes a little creativity and a willingness to expose yourself on the page.

Quick Tips to Get You Started

-Bios should be in third person, unless the publisher specifically states otherwise.

-Bios should be short. Keep them under the specified word count. If the publisher doesn't say, aim for less than 50. You might consider having both a long and a short version worked out, just in case.

-Humor is great. Sexiness is also great. Combine the two and you're likely to give readers a bio—and a writer—worth remembering.

-Read other writer's bios. What interests you about them? What makes you snooze? Which bios stand out and make you want to read more of their work (since this is, essentially, what great bios should be doing)?

ELEMENTS

In my book, great bios need three things:

  1. Something about you that is interesting, creative and human. This is important, and it's the thing that most people miss or do poorly, so I'm going to talk more about it in more detail in the next section.

  2. Something about your work that is focused and informative. If you've been published, choose your top three or four publications that have to do with the current market. If you haven't been published, say nothing at all or say something simple, like, "She's been writing erotica for the past five years."

  3. Something about how to contact you. This can be an email, a webpage, a Facebook account or any other means of communication. In today's world, fans want an inside glimpse on how to get a hold of you, stalk you or otherwise get news about your newest writing.

Now, on to the juicy part. This, to me, is what makes great bios really tick and click. It's the part that makes your bio "yours", the part that makes it stand out from the crowd, and the part that will attract readers to your work.

There are two ways to go about sexing up your bio:

A Signature Bio

One option is to have a signature bio, much like a signature perfume. This is a bio that is smart, fun, sassy and that is inherently yours, forever and forever.

Alison Tyler is a great example of a writer who uses a signature bio—she's had the same bio since I first started reading her way back when. It's witty and fun, yet very classy and sexy, which suits her perfectly, conveys a lot about her, and will last through many decades of writing.

Ms. Tyler is loyal to coffee (black), lipstick (red), and tequila (straight). She has tattoos, but no piercings; a wicked tongue, but a quick smile; and bittersweet memories, but no regrets. She believes the rain won’t fall if she doesn’t bring an umbrella, prefers hot and dry to cold and wet, and loves to spout her favorite motto: “You can sleep when you’re dead.” She chooses Led Zeppelin over the Beatles, the Cure over the Smiths, and the Stones over everyone—yet although she appreciates good rock, she has a pitiful weakness for ’80s hair bands. In all things important, she remains faithful to her partner of 15 years, but she still can’t choose just one perfume.  Ms. Tyler serves up coffee and snark 24/7 at http://alisontyler.blogspot.com

See how much you've learned about her? See how delightfully real and sexy she now seems to readers? And how nicely her long-term signature bio ties in with her loyalty for other things? Apparently, she knows a good thing when she sees it. And readers (and editors) will too.

Another option is to keep one part of your bio as your signature. I've always loved the line in Jeremy's Edwards' bio that reads, "Jeremy’s greatest goal in life is to be sexy and witty at the same moment—ideally in lighting that flatters his profile." It's so smart and funny, and so very him, that it gives the reader an instant picture of what he's like, and what his stories are probably like as well. 

An Evolving Bio

This is more my style of bio—a bit of information that is evocative and ever-changing. One of the reasons this works for me is because my writing styles and voices are all over the board. Sometimes my work is very dark, sometimes it's very light, occasionally (rarely, truly) it's funny. And sometimes it's just plain sexy. I like my bio to reflect each story's individual feel while still retaining a sense of who I am as a writer.

My stock bio is three sentences, something like this:

Shanna Germain is/believes in/has [something that ties into the story]. Her writings about [something witty] have appeared in places like [most pertinent publications]. [verb] her at www.shannagermain.com.

Then, I tweak the changeable bits slightly for each story. So, for my BDSM story about Beauty and the Beast, my bio looked like this: 

Shanna Germain still hasn’t found her Beast, but that doesn’t keep her from wandering dark paths, looking for a hidden castle and the reddest rose. Her writings about lust and other things that go bump in the night have appeared in places like [list]. Follow her through the webbed forest at www.shannagermain.com.

Other opening sentences of mine include:

Shanna Germain only plays one game against the devil: euchre. And she shoots the moon every damn time. (for "Ace in the Hole," about playing cards with the devil).

Shanna Germain has never brought donuts to any kind of meeting, but she did once bake a cake for a memorial service and then set it on the roof of her car; it didn’t fall off until she hit the highway. She dreams of finding a woman with nipples like iced roses. (for"Craving Madeline," a tale of lesbian lust over donuts).

Shanna Germain learned any number of things in her high school art room—euchre and sex being the two she continues to this day. Eventually, she hopes to get really good at both. (for "Deal," another card-based story).

The second sentence typically includes something like "Her stories about love, lust and leviathans have appeared in..." I tweak that slightly too, depending on the market.

The final sentence could be boring, since it's essentially just contact information, but I aim to give that its own little edge too, whether it's "See what she's dishing up at..." (for the donut story) or "Put your chips on her table at" (for the card-based story).

My goal with these types of bios is to reveal something interesting and sexy to the reader about myself and about the story. In addition, if a reader hasn't read my story, but comes across my bio in the back of the book, my hope is that she will be interested enough by the information I offer to flip forward and actually read my story.

Now, to answer that Facebook question of, "When can you include your pet's name in a bio?"

Only in two instances that I can think of.

The first is if your story is erotic sci-fi and your cat is named Schrödinger. The sci-fi geeks will love you forever and ever, and you won't even have to explain it.

The second is if your story includes furry sex or kitten play, and your pet is not the feline kind, but the human kind and she has adorable little kitten ears and a pink collar and she's currently chained to your bed. Although, truly, in that case, no one probably cares what her name is either. They'll want pictures instead.

You're interesting, creative and sexy. So are your stories. Isn't it time for your bio to strap on, step up and show some leg?

Coming up next month: Part 1 of the two-part look at Becoming A Market Master, in which I'll show you how to organize all those markets you want to submit to someday.

Shanna Germain
May-June 2010


If you have comments or questions about this column, please send them to Shanna Germain

Learn more about The Fine Art of Submission with Shanna Germain in ERWA 2010 Archive.

______
"The Fine Art of Submission" © 2010 Shanna Germain. All rights reserved.

About the Author:  Shanna Germain believes that a query letter is like a handshake to your editor: professional, welcoming and covered in germs. Her stories about lust, love and leviathans have appeared in places like Best American Erotica, Best Gay Romance, Best Lesbian Erotica, The Mammoth Book of Best American Erotica and more. Visit her online at www.shannagermain.com



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