Lately I’ve noticed that some freelance and author bios are very short—sometimes not more than one line—and say little more than “John Doe is a writer.”
I made this observation on Twitter a couple weeks ago, and Atlantic editor Alexis Madrigal responded that it was a response to the “super long bio.” The Magazine editor Glenn Fleishman said he fights with some writers to give him more than “So and so writes articles,” and chalked it up to some people being shy or trained to be modest.
But there are other reasons for it, which involve writers modeling themselves after famous authors who can totally get away with a one liner. Fleishman said it’s analagous to Japanese business cards, at least in the 1990s. Less info = more important.
So for some writers with short bios, it’s an attempt to convey status. Other writers may be putting on that “mysterious” act—the romance of the introverted author whom you should never know too well, because that kills enjoyment of the work.
But as an editor and curious person, the message I take away from the writer of the short bio is: “I don’t care about, nor do I need, you or your opportunities.” A poor bio statement is a missed opportunity—unless you’re Jonathan Franzen or Oprah—to say something about yourself, explain what interests you, and lead people to more of your work.