As a writer, you’ve spent hours laboring over the personal stories of your characters, giving them depth and appeal. But what about your own personal story? Letting your followers, potential fans, and even literary agents and editors learn more about your own unique story is an important part of an effective author platform. By sharing your own story on your social media, author website, and promotional material, you’ll maximize the impact of your marketing efforts.
The Importance Of Your Personal Story
Managing a character’s backstory is a fundamental storytelling technique. A backstory gives a character dimension and helps readers to empathize. Perhaps the best example of the importance of backstory belongs to Gollum, the ring-obsessed character from The Lord of the Rings. If Gollum were simply Gollum as we know him in the narrative present, he would be a two-dimensional, one-note character. But because his backstory indicates that he was once Sméagol, a harmless guy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, our heartstrings are tugged and our emotions engaged. Backstory makes a flat character an unforgettable one.
And it’s the same with your personal backstory. When in an engaging way, your backstory can make you more memorable and help you stand apart.
How And Where To Use Your Personal Story
Your personal story will appear in the author bio section of your query letter. It can also appear in the “Welcome Reader” section of your author website or on your “About Me” page. It will underscore your interactions on social media with followers, fans, and publishing professionals. Your personal story will be mentioned every time you give an interview or write a blog post. In short, your personal story will pervade all the elements of your author platform, whether you’re deliberately including the information or just allowing it to quietly color everything you write, do, and say.
Elements Of A Great Personal Story For Strong Marketing Appeal
When you’re writing your personal story to include in your promotional efforts, consider the following elements:
Be the hero of your own life. Sharing your backstory involves opening up about your challenges. To root for you, fans need to know what you’ve been up against.
Highlight other characters. Who are the people who helped you on your journey? A mentor, a child, a spouse? These are your secondary characters: Show how they have been integral to your success.
What do you stand for? A good story has a backbone of deep personal meaning: a moral, a creed, a belief. How has your work as a writer supported your personal perspective?
Humility. While it’s important to be proud of your accomplishments, just take care not to appear too arrogant, entitled, or self-righteous. Gratitude and appreciation tend to win more friends than braggadocio.
What next? Although you may have already overcome some of your writing obstacles, chances are you’ve still got big goals ahead of you. Tell readers what you hope to achieve in the future. One writer we know mentioned in her bio how she hoped to see her book turned into a movie someday. Guess what—a production company optioned the film rights!
Quit while you’re ahead. As important as it is to know what to include in your personal story, be sure to avoid these author bio TMI mistakes!
A Final Caveat About Getting Personal Online
Whenever you’re writing about yourself, be sure you are taking basic precautions to protect your identity. You can learn more about Internet safety on social media here and more about safety on your author website here.
QUESTION: What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome as a writer?