I was reading an author's bio today and misread it.
What the bio said: Suzy Q is the pen name of an author whose work has been published internationally by a number of respected journals. She is a professional submissions adviser. You can follow her on Facebook here:
What I thought it said: Suzy Q is the pen name of an author whose work has been rejected by a number of respected journals ...
When I first read this, it made me think (incorrectly) that the person was being totally honest and forthright. I was impressed that she was brave, and it made me want to be brave. Then I reread it (correctly). Oh. And it hit me that although she has been published in a number of respected journals, she probably also has been rejected by a number of respected journals.
In communications class, we talk about the fact that people usually put the best image of themselves online for people to see. It's sometimes called managing your impression. And there's nothing wrong with that.
If you want to sell books, then the audience probably wants to know which books you've already published and sold. Readers may feel like it's less of a gamble to buy a book from someone they've never heard of if many others have read the book and tout the author's ability to write well.
It's also pertinent if books have won awards, or received glowing reviews from people for whom the book is intended. Managing your impression is like going to a job interview, or on a first date, because people may not know you, but you want them to know that first and foremost you are qualified and should be given a chance.
But, what if we were honest? The fun thing about letting others see you for who you are is that they get a glimpse of the real you. The one who isn't perfect. The one they can relate to. The one who sounds like a lot of writers they know, which may make you seem familiar enough to buy your book.
So in my own bio I may switch out a few items:
Mary Horner is the author of Strengthen Your Nonfiction Writing, a guide to writing that more (but not a lot more) than a few dozen people have read. She also has been rejected by many prestigious literary journals, including The Missouri Review, Boulevard Magazine, Virginia Quarterly Review, Tin House, and The Masters Review. Thank goodness for her day job as a communications instructor.