The Author Bio

Goudau: proud of oneself, looking down on others

During the Eastern Han dynasty, there lived a famous scholar named Chahn Dang who served his country and helped the people.  Once he received a visit from a man that he despised and considered vulgar.  Dang ended up sleeping on a high bed while making the guest use a low bed.  After that incident, godau (“high place”) held the alternative meaning of “proud.”

Last week during my writers’ group meeting, one of the members mentioned the importance of the author bio.  I haven’t invested much time in this effort, in part because I don’t want to seem goudau.  It’s ironic since I understand the value of a professional profile.  In fact, I’ve worked twice in jobs that required honing other people’s resumes (once in a college career office, later in a nonprofit securing jobs for low-income women).

The idea of weaving something unique together with my lack of accolades inhibits me.  Here’s my current shot at it, though:

“Jennifer Chow, an Asian-American writer, lives near Los Angeles.  She has contributed to publications for nonprofit organizations, including Sunrise Senior Living, Women in Community Service, and MOMS Club.  Visit her blog, where cultural sayings collide with her life at:  You can also connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.”  

Any thoughts?  Also, here’s a quandary I’m struggling with: If I’m a finalist in a writing contest but not a published winner, should I still add it to my list of awards?  Thank you for all your help.


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  1. Hi Jennifer,

    If I can offer a little advice without sounding too “cheerleadery,” I think your author bio might be underselling your abilities a bit. I know I’ve become something of a fan since I first started reading your posts a few months ago, but I really think that your perspective is a central attraction for anyone who would consider representing and/or acquiring your work.

    I guess I would probably include something about how your unique view of modern American life is informed by your love for – and knowledge of – your cultural heritage. Forgive me if that sounds like I’m editing; I only intend it as an example to clarify what I’m trying to get at above.

    It’s also important to remember that the emphasis of your bio and the particular skills/credits/achievements you choose to list will probably change somewhat depending on what you are querying (i.e., a query for a fiction project would tend to focus more on your skills as a writer and storyteller, while a non-fiction article pitch would detail your knowledge of the subject matter, etc.).

    Finally, for what it’s worth, I would definitely be open to using the ‘finalist’ tag if the writing contest was important enough to include on its own merit, or if the contest related to the project that I was trying to get published, or if it was my best credit.

    I so hope this isn’t TOO much advice! lol… No matter what, I really appreciate your terrific blog, and I wish you all the best in your pursuit of published bliss :)

    • Pat,
      Thank you for your kind words. That’s a good idea about including my unique view on life. And thanks for your advice on the finalist standing as well.

  2. Hi Jennifer,
    I’m not a professional in this area, or near one, but as a reader your “My Fortune Cookie Life,” grabs me more than the author bio.

    Perhaps if you weave in some of the intimacy of MFCL into the bio. EX: What kind of articles do you write for the non-profits?

    And would definitely use “finalist” in bio.

    • Thanks! I’m trying to weave “My Fortune Cookie Life” with my bio… it’s a bit harder to do in the third person. The articles have ranged from client profiles to company information to fiction, so I’m not sure how to break it all down. And thanks for your advice on the finalist bit.

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