Monday, June 13, 2016

Jake Meador on the Quirky Author Bio, the bio used to be post-hoc advertising for an author who had actually been paid, now it's offered as advertising for possible future payment

Thus we end up with a nightmarish writing economy—finding paying work is exceedingly difficult, but publishing work for free is quite easy. The result is that the internet is flooded with writers who will publish their work for free and only a very small portion of those writers will find paying work. This creates a cut-throat mentality in the world of online publishing which has almost unambiguously disastrous consequences for online writers who aspire to be of any use to the world at all.

And so we return to the Quirky Author Bio: Traditionally an author biographical sketch would run in a byline of a newspaper or somewhere in a book and its purpose was to tell readers about the author they had just read. In other words, it told a person who had already paid for the work about the writer they were already supporting. That is no longer how author bios work online.

Rather, author bios are first seen, in almost all cases, after someone has read something the author has made freely available to anyone who stumbles across the article online. And the bio is no longer a way of relaying basic information about the author to the reader; it’s a way of branding that author, of marking him out as interesting and fun and the sort of person you’d like to follow on Twitter. It’s a desperate attempt to stand out in a sea of similarly cash-strapped freelance writers desperately trying to find a way to stand out and be noticed by the right person.

It'd be a shame if the purpose of an author biography was so that you could follow said author on Twitter.  Still, the point seems well-made, the author's biography at this point is more of an announcement of identity in the hopes that the writer will get more work and maybe even some paying work.  Still, in some sense this blog might be a kind of counter-example.  It's not like there's an author's bio here and it's not like the blog advertises the name of the author beyond the pen name Wenatchee The Hatchet.  Eric Blair proved you could get moderately well-established as an author using a pen name, for instance.

1 comment:

Cal of Chelcice said...

"Times are bad. Children disobey their parents, and everyone is writing a book" -Cicero