How to Write and Publish Your First Book 6: The ‘Imperfect’ Author Bio

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    Are you trying to be perfect?

    Forget it! 

    Instead, you need to work on being imperfect.

    I know, I know, this seems like weird advice. But hear me out.

    If you want to create just one, massive nonfiction book, you might get away with being perfect.

    However, if you want to write a series of books (like I do) what you need is a loyal readership. You want to gather followers who want to read your next book, and your next book, and then your… (you get the picture).

    Okay, so here is the clincher:

    If you want to sell a lot of books, you need to be imperfect.

    Let me explain. –

    The Goody Two Shoes and the Rebel

    Cast your mind back to your years at school. I bet there were some goody two shoes in your form, right? They always did their homework on time, were the teacher’s pet, worked very hard, and were clean, wholesome people who simpered and preened when they were praised.

    I was never in that mold. My classmates would hold their breath while I spun yet another yarn why I couldn’t possibly have completed my homework: My cat destroyed my book; my auntie broke her toe, the cupboard fell on my head…

    Luckily, I had a no-fail way of distracting a teacher, if necessary. I learned to fall over with my chair—without injuring myself. You can imagine the clatter…!

    But what about the goody two shoes? Where they beloved?

    I don’t think so. The lack of love can be a great disappointment for ‘perfect’ people.  Many of them go through life, wondering: “I’m so perfect; why don’t they love me?”

    What’s the connection between lovability and selling books?

    If you want to sell a series of books, your readers need to love you (even just a little). And they will only love you if they see your imperfections. Because imperfections make you lovable.

    Of course, you also need respect. After all, you want to be a thought-leader.  And people will only listen to what you say if you have some credibility. Whether you have academic credit or street credit—no matter. All you need is to be passionate about a topic and show how that passion has shaped your life. 

    But credibility alone won’t cut it.

    You Need to Cultivate Imperfection

    Let me ask you: do you know exactly what your weaknesses are?

    I must admit, I don’t. It’s difficult to see oneself as others see us. But now and then I catch a glimpse.

    Just a few days ago it dawned on me what an annoying student I am.

    For example, as a CrossFit newbie, I’m still learning Olympic weightlifting. A few days ago at the CrossFit gym, when we started lifting weights, the trainer, Altus Lategan gave me clear instructions on what to do. 

    5 minutes later… 

    I call the trainer: “Hey, Altus, do you think I should put on just a little more weights on the bar?”

    “No, Mary, as I explained to you, I want you to practice just with the bar so that you get the form right.”

    “Yes, yes – of course!” I nod enthusiastically.

    10 minutes later…

    “Altus?”

    “Yeees?”

    “You know,” I say, bouncing the bar up and down a bit. “This feels just a little light for me. Shall I add just a couple of tiny weights?”

    “NO, Mary. I want you to do EXACTLY what I told you to do.”

    “Yes, of course! Absolutely. No question!” I beam at him all eager beaver.

    From then on, I catch him watching me out of the corner of his eye to make sure I don’t surreptitiously add some weights.

    An annoying student!

    Luckily, the others in the class aren’t perturbed by my antics because, at 70, I’m more than thirty years older than most of them and I have some leeway. 

    Yes, I can catch glimpses of my imperfection, but I need to know exactly what my failing are.

    Why?

    Because of the bio.

    Yes. The Bio You Need to Write

    When you write a book or a blog, you need to write about yourself. Ever tried it? If so, you’ll know that this is a cringe-making exercise.

    In the next few days, I’ve got to start writing the author bio for my forthcoming book “Youthful Aging Secrets’, so I’m keen to get a handle on my vulnerabilities. I’ve asked colleagues and friends to contribute to a list of my weaknesses.— and, strangely, they seem to be enjoying the task; I wonder why …?

    Meanwhile, I’ve created my own list. Here is my confession:
    I am…

    • Chaotic,
    • Untidy,
    • Always on the back foot with tax, and late paying bills.
    • I eat more chocolate ice cream than I should.
    • I always have too many projects on the go.
    • I’m a slow writer and my first drafts are ugly.
    • I pretend I’m not competitive.
    • I hold grudges.
    • I’m a klutzy clown: when I get excited and start gesticulating at the dinner table, people duck for cover because I’m likely to swipe a wine glass off the table or land the soup in my neighbor’s lap.

    Now it’s your turn. What are YOUR weaknesses?

    Please respond in the comments or on the WTD Facebook Page. Be honest 🙂

    About the author

      Mary Jaksch

      Mary Jaksch is best known for her exceptional training for writers at WritetoDone.com and for her cutting-edge book, Youthful Aging Secrets. In her “spare” time, Mary is also the brains behind GoodlifeZEN.com, a Zen Master, a mother, and a 5th Degree Black Belt.

    • Paula Panache says:

      Thanks for the information , it was really helpful.

    • This helps more than you know! I have been trying to write my debut novel for a few years now. It is never out of my head and I am always spinning new openings and new scenes in my head. The problem is I can’t seem to get started. There is so much that must be included on the first page and I seem to freeze a bit. I know that I can write. I’ve written short stories but this is my first novel. I finally realized I am trying to be perfect. I know I can’t be, I am bound to make a million mistakes, I’m a newbie. I think you have answered the question I’ve had for some time. Now I just need to bite the bullet…cliche I know. 🙂

    • Gaelle says:

      I share the exact same weaknesses! How amazing!
      I find it interesting to find your weaknesses in order to accept them and work with them and not against them, When I realized I was not the kind of writer I wanted to be, I allowed myself to just write the way I can, and enjoying the process. And the result was: people like what I write with my own style.
      I find the advice very true, and we should all try to know our weaknesses, that would explain a lot of our struggles.
      thanks for another very good reminder, I follow your blog since a few months and it is a great pleasure to read you!

    • Lauryn says:

      I am at a point in my life (conveniently at my “quarter life crisis”), where I am coming to terms with the fact that it’s okay to have faults. Growing up I always tried to be the model daughter, sibling, and person in general, but many times I’ve ended up feeling worn down trying to keep up with that persona. I love that you embrace your shortcomings in this article. It has been encouraging and also made me laugh. These are the things that make us, us!

      • Yes, indeed! When we let go of the model persona we’ve been cultivating, there is a sense of freedom. Welcome to the happy imperfection crowd, Lauryn.

    • Laszlo Voros says:

      I must be imperfect because I have sold jack squat so far.

      • You open up an important point, Lazlo. All of us experience a string of failures – and some successes during life. I think it’s a danger to equate some kind of systemic character flaw with failures.

        We are not our failures. And we are also not our successes.

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