The Big Fat Lie Of The Author Bio

Today’s post by Ellen Potter | @EllenPotter

It’s April Fools Day and since this is the one day of the year that lying is expected, we thought we would repost this article from September of 2010. It’s still true. It’s still funny. And since award winning children’s author, Ellen Potter, has a new book out in three days, we thought it only fitting to share with you again.

I have a confession to make. Every time I read an author’s bio I become insanely jealous. Authors always seem to be nestled in valleys or perched on mountains, surrounded by adoring spouses and a gaggle of little ones who don’t need any help wiping. When the bio says “She has five golden retrievers” I can quite plainly see them all sitting obediently at the author’s feet in her well-appointed writing room, their coats gleaming from a meticulous brushing. I can see said-author tapping away at her computer keys, glancing up every now and then to gaze contemplatively at the mountain/valley/ocean view from her writing room. A knock on the door.

“Honey, would you like a fresh cup of coffee?”

“Yes, my love. Are the children behaving?”

“Like angels. Don’t worry your pretty head about them.”

Ahhh. When you squish an author’s life down to three or four sentences, you can’t help but make it sound enviable. Tidy, picturesque. No bad smells. It’s just not fair.

Never, NEVER does an author bio say:

She lives in a house which is perpetually being renovated by boozy, perspiring construction guys, located on a woody road plagued with black flies in the summer and black ice in the winter.  She is surrounded by her loving family who do not pick up after themselves and leave the soy milk out of the refrigerator all night. Her poorly-groomed dogs have chronic ear infections. She spends her days trying to find time to shower. Oh, and also, she writes.

See, now THERE is an honest author bio. That’s all I’m saying.

This is for a profile of children's author Ellen Potter, whose most recent book, "The Humming Room" -- a modern retelling of the claEllen Potter is the author of several middle-grade novels, including the award-winning Olivia Kidney series, Pish Posh, SLOB, and The Kneebone Boy. Her non-fiction book, Spilling Ink; a Young Writer’s Handbook, was co-authored by Anne Mazer Olivia Kidney was awarded Child magazine’s “Best Children’s Book Award” and was selected as one of the “Books of the Year” by Parenting magazine. Additionally, it was one of the finalists for the Ottakar’s Children’s Book Prize in the United Kingdom. SLOB was selected for the Junior Library Guild Spring 2009 List and the 2010 Texas Lone Star Reading List. Her newest novel is Piper Green and the Fairy Tree.

(This article was originally reprinted by permission from on September 27th, 2010.)


* * *

Piper Green And the Fairy TreeFrom award-winning author Ellen Potter comes a charming new illustrated early chapter book series set on an island off the coast of Maine, where kids, lobster boats, and a hint of magic are part of everyday life.

There are three things you should know about Piper Green:
1. She always says what’s on her mind (even when she probably shouldn’t).
2. She rides a lobster boat to school.
3. There is a Fairy Tree in her front yard.

Life on an island in Maine is always interesting. But when a new teacher starts at Piper’s school—and doesn’t appreciate the special, um, accessory that Piper has decided to wear—there may be trouble on the horizon. Then Piper discovers the Fairy Tree in her front yard. Is the Fairy Tree really magic? And can it fix Piper’s problems?

Reader friends: do you prefer to imagine your favorite author leading an exotic lifestyle? Or do you want to hear the honest, chaotic truth? 

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS (2014), FLIGHT OF DREAMS (2016), and I WAS ANASTASIA (2018). Her books have been translated into numerous languages and have been Library Reads, One Book One County, and Book of the Month Club selections. She is the co-founder of and lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her family.

3 Responses to The Big Fat Lie Of The Author Bio

  1. Normandie Fischer April 1, 2015 at 10:17 am #

    Loved this. The real and the dirty? Hmm… Do I want to know? Because if I do, then I might have to tell the truth about a few things in my life, such as my messy office and the chaos in which I write.

    All those beautiful photos–Look Where I Write!–of pristine desks with nary a pile or (as in my case) non-pile, with no clutter at all? Honey, that will never be me. Never. (One might as well know oneself–unless that one, that self, could be convinced to take the time to change.)

  2. Katherine Jones April 1, 2015 at 10:17 pm #

    I generally prefer the latter as I enjoy knowing my favorite books are written by imperfect beings like me. 🙂

  3. Margaret Meps Schulte April 1, 2015 at 10:17 pm #

    A funny bio is absolutely required if you have a funny book. So I didn’t have any choice, when I published Strangers Have the Best Candy.

    I ended up with two bios, one of which included “She fights an ongoing (and losing) battle with mildew.” The other one confessed that I have written “hundreds of limericks and thousands of grocery lists,” but that this was my first book.

    Perhaps it’s a curse of the self-published author. There was no one else who would write my bio for me, and I can’t write about myself in any way but self-deprecating.

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