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Pesky 3rd Person Bio

Have you gone to submit a poem or short story to a literary magazine and you see them ask for a cover letter and third person bio? It's always so awkward. The first time I read it, I actually asked some of my friends to try and write a bio for me, to include what they thought about me and what I had accomplished.


None of them got back to me. This is really common experience for writers, I think. We send something to friends or family and then... no one gets back to us.

Looking back, I realize the ask was inconvenient--we were all in college, self-absorbed, looking for the easiest classes for next semester, trying to figure out how to fix our cars while still being able to afford to go to school full-time. How much did we even know or care about each other's achievements or personalities anyway? Being amicable while trying to keep our heads above water was enough for most of us. I remember my first third person bio was about... one to two sentences. It was something like: "Mea Andrews is an aspiring writer currently studying at Middle Georgia State University."


That would be my byline for a long time. After that, I had no idea what to write; I didn't have any publications, I wasn't really active in a literary scene anywhere, there was no where I could point to and go 'READ ME HERE.' This was one reason why I joined the Macon Writers Group (which side, note is still active and amazing if you live in the Middle Georgia area), and became a reader for my uni's literary magazine. That 3rd person bio wasn't going to round itself out! After your byline, or that sentence with your name and some form of credentials, you need to add something that brings you readers, or at least makes them interested in you. This shouldn't realllllyyyy be "My brother ate cheese out of my hand once like dog and now I go to therapy twice a week to work through this," though you are welcome to try that out and if it inspires your writing, then maybe it would be worth including. So just to reiterate, you're not really going to talk about non-writing stuff in your 3rd person bio. You really want to sell yourself in this lil paragraph as this is what your readers will...read... about you. Include links to your social media, website, blog, etc.. (though not likely your OnlyFans) and relevant information about you, your credentials, what you write/ write about, and what you've published / been published in. My second attempt at a 3rd person bio looked more like: "Mea Andrews is an aspiring writer currently studying at Middle Georgia State University. She been published in her university's literary magazine, The Fall Line Review, and feels most comfortable writing about family dynamics." After that I went through stages. Every submission cycle I tweaked my 3rd person bio until ultimately I moved to China. I was unsure if I should include the country I lived in my bio; it was interesting, but would it bring me readers or make me well liked in the writing community? Eventually I decided to just include it and if it's hurt me at all, I don't know. Nowadays, my 3rd person bio looks like: "Mea Andrews is a writer from Georgia, who currently resides in Hong Kong. She has just finished her MFA from Lindenwood University and is only recently back on the publication scene. You can find her in Gordon Square Review, Rappahannock Review, Tipton Poetry Journal, Potomac Review, and others. She was a 2022 Pushcart prize nominee, and you can also follow her on Instagram at mea_writes or go to her website at meaandrews.com. She has two chapbooks and poetry collections available for publication, should anyone be interested." It's a bit cheeky at the end there with the chapbooks and collections, but I'll be honest, I want someone to publish these mofos and I don't want to pay hundred in contest fees. It's all about that saying: "You miss a hundred percent of the shots you don't take."

Looking at it now, I still have questions about it. Is it ostentatious to include my 2022 nomination? I don't know. The sentence "She has just finished her MFA from Lindenwood University and is only recently back on the publication scene" is a bit outdated as well, I graduated in 2021. Still, it works for what it is at the moment. This would be how I would recommend you write your 3rd person bio:


-Byline (name, uni's, degree, work, where you live, where you write, whatever)

-List of publications or magazines that you are published in

-Awards

-Links for where to find you! (so important, please don't forget, this is advertising!)


I hope this helps you out!


Best of luck, I'm off to polish up my own bio now!

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