Sample Short Bios for Literary Journals

Every writer needs to have a killer short bio that tells (in a sufficient and entertaining way) who they are and why they deserve to be published.  If you're not sure what to write for your short bio (that must be included in every cover letter) to a literary journal, then put on your thinking cap.

Even if you don't have any published work as of yet, you still have a story to tell. These samples from published (and unpublished) writers will help get you started. You may also benefit by reading more about why editors ask for a short bio and what they expect to see.

No Publications

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  • "A graduate of Loyola University, I currently teach English to high school seniors in New Orleans."
  • "I am a native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and am currently earning an MFA in Fiction at NYU. A former professional dancer, I am working on a collection of short stories and a novel."
  • I spent 35 years as a New York City Board of Ed teacher teaching reading to high school students in the South Bronx. When I retired at the age of 65 I started taking personal essay writing classes in the continuing education department at New York's prestigious New York University. I have submitted several essays to The New Yorker and Harper's magazine and while I haven't been published yet I have taken on several freelance writing jobs.
  • "I recently graduated from Villanova with an honors degree in English. At Villanova, I was the fiction editor of the campus literary magazine."
  • "I am a freelance writer based in the Chicago area."

And a particularly good one from The Journal's Contributors' Notes:

  • "Beth Kannell writes book reviews from and is co-owner of a book store in Saint Johnsbury, on the edge of the Northeast Kingdom, in Vermont."

One Publication

  • "I grew up in Boston and now live in Kansas. My work has appeared in Glimmer Train."
  • "A native of Colorado, my work has appeared in Cimarron Review."
  • I spent six years researching and writing Memoirs of a Geisha. The novel was an instant hit and went on to spend two years on The New York Times best-seller list. It ended up selling 4 million copies worldwide.
  • I was raised in a devoutly Quaker family and did not attend school until the age of twelve. I was seriously injured as a child and grew up with limited mobility relying upon horse-drawn carriages for transportation. This led to my love of horses and penning a children's book entitled Black Beauty

Multiple Publications

  • "My fiction and poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in One Story, Shenandoah, and Ploughshares. I work as a nurse and live in St. Paul with my teenage daughter."
  • "I am a marketing professional and college instructor based in Boston. My work has appeared in Field, Colorado Review, and Zoetrope. In 2002, I received a residency at Soapstone and am currently working on a book of connected short stories."
  • "I am a former journalist who has interviewed murderers on death row, flown over L.A. with the LAPD and patrolled with the Royal Canadian Mounted Poice. My work has been praised by James Paterson, Dean Koontz, and Heather Graham, to name a few. I sold my first short story at age fifteen and my books include the acclaimed A Perfect Grave and Blood of Others
  • “Bob Hicok feels there are too many spiders in Virginia.” (Another from The Journal.)