Remarkable Finds

How to Write a Killer Author Bio

Insert life story hereYou are a writer. Using your keyboard you can create an entire world, the people who live in it and the circumstances for all sorts of interesting things to occur. At peak production, you are churning out 500 to 1000 words a day. So why is it so difficult to write 100 words about yourself? It is, after all, a topic in which you are intimately familiar.

It is likely that you have not even considered your author bio until you are asked for the information from your cover designer. And, as a reader I don’t recall ever not buying a book due to an uninspired “About the Author” blurb. I have, however, upon completing an enjoyable book returned to the bio to learn more about the author – especially if I am interested in reading more of their work. When considered from this perspective, the author bio is really a marketing tool that allows your newest fans to connect with you, possibly leading to increased sales.

So how do you boil your life experience down to a concise and compelling blurb?

Start Big – Go Small

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. You will need to create three author biographies:

  • Long form version for your website, interview sheets, and press releases that includes your age, location, credentials, background, inspiration, fun facts and contact information.
  • Medium length (approximately 250 words) version for queries, guest blogs, and marketing materials
  • Brief bio (approximately 50-100 words) for your book cover and social media profile

The good news is that once you have the long form version complete, it is much easier to edit it down to include the most relevant information based on the context in which the bio will be presented.

Who is your reader?

What’s relevant for inclusion in your author bio depends on your intended audience. An author bio is much like meeting someone at a party. You need to keep it brief, but memorable. Therefore only share the information your audience will find most interesting. Are you writing for an academic audience, summer beach readers, memoir enthusiasts, young adults, or children? An academic reader is probably not interested that you have four children just as a young adult reader will not fully appreciate the effort required to earn that long list of academic credentials listed behind your name.

Brag Selectively

Speaking of credentials, if your name is followed by a bowl of alphabet soup, choose the credentials most relevant to the work you are publishing. The same applies for multiple degrees, certifications, previous publications, articles, and awards. A PhD in astrophysics is impressive if you are publishing a book about the far reaches of the universe – not so much if you are writing a cookbook.

Imitation is the purest form of flattery

So, how do you know what to include in your author bio? Easy, just go online or to your local bookstore and take a look at a few books in your genre or field of study. When you find an appealing author bio, copy it substituting your information and voila! Author bio complete.

What makes you human?

While researching (see above) author bios, you will notice there is usually something included that differentiates the author from their fellows. They may be avid collectors of porcelain Chihuahuas, share their home with 15 hedgehogs, or live off the grid in the Scandinavian woods. This type of information sets you apart from other writers in your field. Other types of humanizing information include your locale or profession, but only if either plays a part in your work.

A picture is worth…..

You only get 50-100 words to share your life story on a book cover or flap. A good picture can help you tell it with fewer words. If you can afford it, have a professional head shot taken to include with your bio. If you can’t afford it, make sure the picture used is in an appropriate setting for your material, is in high resolution and prominently features your face –not your dog, not your car, not your collection of porcelain figurines. It’s called a head shot for a reason.

And finally

Use third person to refer to yourself and read your bio out loud before you publish it. You may choose to create several versions of your brief bio for use in articles, guest blogs, speaking introductions, interviews, and social media. Don’t forget, just as you would update your professional resume, periodically review and update your author bio to include new publications, awards, areas of expertise, and life changing events.

5 Famous Authors Who Were Rejected by Publishers

Have you gotten a rejection letter from a publisher? You aren't alone.

Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil—but there is no way around them.

– Isaac Asimov

We’ve all gotten rejected once or twice in our lives. This is especially true when it comes to authors: it’s all about putting yourself out there, and you’re bound to come across someone who isn’t a fan.

Of course, one of the benefits of publishing independently is that you don’t have to worry about rejection. There aren’t any gatekeepers trying to stop your work from seeing the light of day. You can publish what you like and let your work be judged by the people who really matter: readers.

Still, sometimes it’s nice to know you aren’t alone. Some of the most famous authors in the world have had their books rejected at one point or another. Here are a few to reassure you that even the greats hit speedbumps every now and then.

Sylvia Plath sent The Bell Jar in under a pseudonym, where it was immediately rejected. The editor then discovered the author’s true identity, and the manuscript was…rejected again.

“I have now re-read—or rather read more thoroughly—“The Bell Jar” with the knowledge that it is by Sylva Plath which has added considerably to its interest for it is obviously flagrantly autobiographical. But it still is not much of a novel.”

Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness received this rejection letter:

A future multiple award winner.

It went on to win both the Hugo and Nebula Awards for best novel. Go figure.

Carrie by Stephen King was rejected 30 times. He even threw the manuscript away before his wife retrieved it from the trash.

Even Tarzan's author got rejected!

Tarzan of the Apes was initially rejected, but Edgar Rice Burroughs’ persistence eventually bore fruit when the novel became a classic.

Sometimes they get a little personal, as with the rejection for Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises:

“If I may be frank, Mr. Hemingway — you certainly are in your prose — I found your efforts to be both tedious and offensive.”

And finally, one bonus rejection: Dr. Seuss’ first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, was rejected 27 times. Where would we all be without a little Seuss in our life?

So there you have it: it happens to the best of us, but you can’t let it get you down! Is one of your favorite authors on this list? Have a rejection story of your own that you’ve learned from? Let us know in the comments!

5 More Apps Every Writer Needs

5 Apps For Every Writer

Your writing time is precious. Last year we gave you five apps that every writer needs to check out. We’re back with five more apps to help you stay organized, stay on track, and make writing that much easier. Or maybe they’ll help make your life easier. Either way, you’ll thank us.

1. Evernote

We’ve talked before about the importance of using the cloud in your writing, and we called out Evernote in particular. Whether you’re using it for writing, note-taking, or research, Evernote is great at pulling everything together. You can save websites for quick reference, snap photos, and even chat with someone if you’re collaborating.

Best of all, Evernote syncs between every device it’s installed on. So type on your phone while you’re on the go and take a quick picture, and it’ll be at you laptop when you get back home. When you don’t have to worry about where you’re writing, it makes it a lot easier to actually get to writing!

Available on Android, iOS, and desktop.

2. Simple Pomodoro

The Pomodoro Technique was developed in the 1980s as a time management system, named after the Italian word for “tomato.” The basic idea is that you focus for 25 minutes at a time, punctuated by 3-5 minute breaks.

The good news is that you don’t need a tomato-shaped kitchen timer (after which the method is named), because you can time yourself from your phone or tablet. One of the best is Simple Pomodoro; like the name implies, it’s simple and straightforward. Tap to start the countdown, and when time’s up your break will start automatically count down, too. You’ll be amazed at how your time management improves once you get into a rhythm.

Available on Android.

3. Trello

Sometimes getting things done isn’t the problem – it’s keeping track of everything that gives you a headache! A little management can go a long way in keeping tasks straight. Trello is a project management system, but it works just as well for writers.

At its most basic, Trello works like this: you have boards for big projects, lists for groups or related tasks, and cards for individual tasks. This will let you break up your writing process however you wish: by chapter, by theme, by characters, and so on.  Once you get organized and don’t have to worry about figuring out where you left off, you can get past the planning and onto the writing.

Available on Android, iOS, and browsers.

4. Coffitivity

You have an issue: you have trouble working when things are too quiet, but turning on music or the television distracts you. What you really need is the perfect amount of background noise to keep you grounded. After all, studies have shown that ambient noise can spur creativity. Try Coffitivity as an easy way to keep those creative juices flowing.

Coffitivity lets you use the mild hustle and bustle of a coffee shop to keep you on track. Choose from ‘Morning Murmur,’ ‘Lunchtime Lounge,’ or ‘University Undertones’ and start listening. It’s that easy! Give it a try and see if it helps you get over that bout of writer’s block.

Available on Android, iOS, and web browsers.

5. IF

Ever wish you could automate the little things in your life? IF, the app from IFTTT (If This Then That), lets you connect the other apps in your life to try to make things a little easier.

The way it works is all in the name: “if something happens, then do something else.” You define the “somethings.” For example, if you favorite a tweet, then save it to Evernote. Or if you miss a call, then respond with an automated text. There are tons of supported apps and devices, from Facebook to Fitbit, and crossing even a few things off of your to-do list with automation will save you a lot of time in the end.

Available on Android and iOS.

Have you used any of these apps? What do you think of them? Do you have any favorites of your own that you think help make your life and writing a bit easier? Share your experiences in the comments below!

10 Quotes to Spark Your Writing

10 Quotes to Inspire Authors

Writing can often feel like a solitary endeavor: you sit down at your computer or notepad, take a sip of your coffee, and do your best to shut out the rest of the world as you put words to paper.

But you’re not alone! Some of the most successful authors in history know the struggle you’re going through and have persevered. Check out these quotes to make you smile, think, and get inspired as you get ready to write this weekend.


“Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.” – Jane Yolen


“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” – Douglas Adams


“It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.” – Ernest Hemingway


“Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.” – William Faulkner


“The scariest moment is always just before you start.” – Stephen King


“Don’t be a writer; be writing.” – William Faulkner


“Almost anyone can be an author; the business is to collect money and fame from this state of being.” – A. A. Milne


“If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.” – Edgar Rice Burroughs


“You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.” – Jack London


“It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.” – C. J. Cherryh


Have some of your own favorite quotes on writing? Share them in the comments!

YSHS Students Turn Cookbooks into Scholarships

Students at Byimana Lycee des Sciences

In addition to memorizing vocabulary words, conjugating irregular verbs, and learning the subtle differences in pronouncing è and é, the French students at Yellow Springs High School (YSHS) in Ohio also plan and execute an annual French Café fundraiser. Proceeds from this dining and entertainment experience fund scholarships at the Byimana Lycee des Sciences in Gitarama, Rwanda.

The Byimana School of Science houses and educates 900 of the best and brightest Rwandan students in six grade levels (learn more). Each year since 2009, the YSHS French Café event has raised enough money to fully fund two high school scholarships for Rwandan students.

This year, as part of a project based learning initiative, students were tasked with developing a new product to sell at the French Café event. After a bit of brainstorming, students decided to create and print a French/English cookbook. Over the coarse of the year, students selected recipes, divided into teams, prepared the food, photographed their dishes, and designed the page layouts for the cookbook. They even shot and edited cooking videos for each dish and created a website.

This Spring, French teacher David Smith emailed us when he received the proof copy of his students’ work.

Cookbook cover

The finished product

“We really dug in back in the fall to find the best option for printing our cookbook. The students considered them all and decided was the best choice. But we just didn’t know, until our proof copy came this weekend, how it would really look. You should have seen the faces of my students this morning! The comment was invariably: ‘Wow! Oh my gosh, it doesn’t look like it was made by students! It looks like a real cookbook!’ I can’t tell you how happy I am with how this is turning out.”

We contacted Mr. Smith following this year’s fundraiser for an update. We were delighted to hear this project was a success:

“The cookbook has been a real hit and raised lots of money. Our French Café has typically raised enough for two full scholarships, but the addition of the cookbook sales raised that to three. In fact, we raised enough to provide a student with a full scholarship all the way through high school. Now, not only will high school be possible for this student, but there is a near 100% college placement rate from the Byimana school, with a great chance of a partial or full college scholarship. Someone’s future has really been changed for the better.”

We were excited to hear about the success of a project combining self-publishing and project based learning. The YSHS French students came up with a creative solution to a real world problem and, in this case, changed a student’s life. Bravo!


To share your PBL self-publishing experience, email us at
To view the recipes and cooking videos produced by the YSHS French classes, go to
Learn more about project based learning.

Future Authors Tour Lulu

Become-a-Published-Author-with-LuluOn April 17th we welcomed a group of students who wanted to learn about Lulu and self-publishing.

After sharing a snack of donuts and juice in the Pulitzer meeting room, we talked about how books get from computer to publisher to bookstore. We then provided a brief history of, how it was conceived, and how print on demand self-publishing differs from traditional publishing.

The students were really well prepared with questions about content, editing, formats, revenue, distribution and top selling categories. With all the questions answered, we began the tour stopping in the Information Technology, Engineering, Accounting, Fulfillment, Customer Support, and Marketing areas. At each stop, a team member explained how their group helps authors print, publish and sell their books all over the world.

The last stop on the tour included a demonstration of how our LuluJr bookmaking kits are received, scanned, typeset and prepared for binding. Then each student receiving a book making kit along with a tutorial on developing a good plot, story boarding, character creation, and instructions for returning the kits for printing.

LuluTour-BA few days after the tour, we received the following message from the group’s leader.

“I’ve heard nothing but fantastic comments about our time spent with Lulu, and there are many children hard at work on their LuluJr kits.  I can’t wait to see the finished products! Thank you for your time and generosity and for sharing your expertise in the publishing world.  These opportunities give our children not only great writing information, but also information about jobs, careers, and helps them steer their higher-level education in knowledgeable ways.  Thank you very much.”

We are also grateful for the opportunity to share our daily tasks with this group of students. Their visit served as a welcome reminder that 100 people working in an office in Raleigh, NC can have a positive effect on the lives of authors, educators and readers around the world – as well as a local group of future authors.




How Self-Published Textbooks Bring Down the Cost of College Education

Dollars in the books, isolated on white background, business traAt, we’ve noticed a trend in publications from educational field leaders. In fact, 9 out of our top 20 authors for the past year published textbooks. This movement to self-publishing isn’t necessarily a big surprise when you consider the exorbitant prices of textbooks that continue to rise. USA Today reports an 82% increase in textbook prices between 2002 and 2013. The Economist also recently reported the nominal price of textbooks has risen more than fifteen-fold since 1970, three times the rate of inflation.

Based on a survey of more than 2,000 students from more than 150 college campuses across the United States this price trend is having an increasingly negative effect:

  • 65% or respondents said that in the past they have decided against buying a textbook because it was too expensive.
  • Nearly half (48%) said the cost of textbooks has an impact on how many or which classes they take.
  • 94% of the students who had skipped buying a required book said they were concerned that doing so would hurt their grade in that course.

Professors and schools are paying attention. Rather than requiring students to pay for a textbook that contains only a few chapters of relevant information, members of the academic community are writing their own textbooks and self-publishing them. This allows instructors to publish what they teach and teach what they publish.

Self-publishing and print-on-demand technology keeps costs down. Since there is no inventory to maintain, only the books that are ordered are printed and there are fewer middlemen getting paid. Additionally, eBooks are an increasingly affordable and popular solution, since the eBook format allows professors to publish individual chapters or supplements that students can purchase as needed.

The biggest advantage with self-publishing is that textbooks can be revised and made available for purchase in real time ensuring the content is always current. This is especially important in medical, technology and other rapidly expanding fields.

Health InformaticsIf you would like to learn more, see this article in Publisher’s Weekly: Indie Authors on Campus. In it, Lulu authors Bob Hoyt and Ann Yoshihashi share their experiences self-publishing a textbook in the ever-changing field of health care and information technology.