All writers eventually come face-to-face with what might be the most difficult sixty words they’ll ever have to write.
Their own bio.
Aside from multiple great writing samples, a strong bio is essential for writers who are serious about gaining attention from managers, agents, producers and studio executives. As the industry’s leading data-aggregation platform for emerging screenwriters, our partners at Coverfly allow writers to curate their emerging writing career accomplishments on their writer profile page – and a great bio is one of the most important elements on this page for attracting the interest of producers, managers, agents and studio executives.
It seems simple enough, but let’s be real — it’s easy to be confounded by the seemingly minuscule task of writing about yourself.
At some point you’ll need a bio and it needs to be good enough to make people want more. Your bio is a valuable tool to hook others. A potential collaborator is a click away on your Coverfly writer profile. It’s important to make the right first impression.
A writer’s bio should be concise and speak directly to strengths while highlighting past achievements. It’s a way to assert your achievements, your voice, and your credibility.
It comes down to being your authentic self.
Ideally a writer’s bio is between 60-200 words, 3-5 sentences, or 200-300 characters — there are plenty of ways to build a strong bio.
What are the essential ingredients in a good writer bio?
We analyzed some of the best bios of writers currently at the top of The Red List, compiling attributes that can help your bio standout amongst the crowd.
Keep in mind, a writer’s bio has nothing to do with their placement on The Red List. We simply gauged what some writers are doing well.
Below is a list of ingredients. The order of the elements vary but you can generate a general template with them.
You can pick and choose which elements you want to highlight in your bio, but the goal is to get as much information in as little of a space as possible.
The more concise the better.
Here’s a template to get you started:
- Name is
- Memorable fact or attribute (funny or serious)
- an award-winning [filmmaker, screenwriter, writer, musician, etc]
- Best known for [recent project]
- Mention contest and fellowship wins or finalist placements.
- Any produced credits or noteworthy professional writing assignments.
- Other Contest Placements (Names of Contests).
- Other skills/accomplishments (credits, festivals, collaborators).
- Born/raised/currently resides in…
- Representation (agent, manager or lawyer, if applicable)
This template serves as the beginning of a professional bio that could grace the back page of a book or a Playbill. It highlights successes and gets right into the reasons why someone should take you seriously as a professional writer.
Here’s an example:
Kevin Nelson is a screenwriter and director currently quarantined in New York City. His feature screenplays have placed in multiple screenplay competitions, including as a Finalist in ScreenCraft. He’s worked with Grammy-winning artists, anti-human trafficking organizations in Nepal, and would rather be in nature right now.
Ways to Make Your Bio Stand Out
- Intimate first person introduction that speaks directly to the identity of the writer. This can make a connection with the reader and really make your bio shine. Some of the strongest bios were personal and unique to the writer.
- Specific artistic strengths (cultural, life experience, perspective).
- Humor. Everything is made better with a smile.
- Voice. Infuse your unique style into your accomplishments.
- Name dropping. You get one, maybe two. Have you worked with a big name that gets attention on its own? If you’re comfortable with it and have worked with someone awesome, it’s okay to share that experience. It’ll boost your credibility, but don’t let too many guest appearances steal the show.
- Imply you’re prolific. It’s fine to direct interested parties towards more of your work, but avoid putting lots of links in your bio. The important thing is to showcase that you’re much more than a one-trick pony. Industry professionals are looking to work with prolific writers, so present yourself as a fountain of creativity.
Things to Avoid
- Don’t over-embellish. Watch out when embellishing your story. It’s okay to list meaningful accomplishments to boost your appeal, but make sure you have the evidence to back it up. If you say you won the 2020 Nicholl Fellowship and someone hovers their mouse over your contest placements on Coverfly and sees that you only placed in the Top 20%, it won’t be a good look.
- Don’t be negative. If you’re using humor, great! But be careful not to be overly sardonic or self-deprecating. Build yourself up, never put yourself down.
- Shorter is better. Keep it short and sweet.
There is no exact science when it comes to writing the bio for your Coverfly profile, but there are certainly ways to utilize the space beside your name to your advantage. What makes your perspective unique?
Kevin Nelson is a writer and director based in New York City, baby. He has written and produced critically acclaimed short films and music videos with incredibly talented artists, worked with anti-human trafficking organizations in Nepal, and would rather be in nature right now. Check out his Coverfly profile, see more madness on Instagram or follow his work on https://www.kevinpatricknelson