View Full Version : Stating Author's Credentials
07-15-2006, 01:07 AM
With regard to a fiction query, when an agent asks a writer to state his/her credentials in a query letter, do they mean only those credentials specific to the genre of manuscript being submitted? For example, I am submitting a ms. for sci/fi. My past writing credentials are mainly academic/editorial. Do I state those credentials in the query regardless?
07-15-2006, 01:25 AM
Any writing credit is good, use it. If you have tons and tons of credits make a list of the most impressive and use them. Editing is a good credit as well, they'll know your manuscript is tight. Genre doesn't matter.
07-15-2006, 07:30 PM
Writing credentials (well, except maybe high school stuff -- but I think college is fine; of course, the more professional the better) and also any real-life credentials that are pertinent to your ms. For example, if your ms. is a military thriller heavy on forensics, and you have been a medical examiner with the Army for 25 years, by all means mention it.
07-15-2006, 08:59 PM
The whole point of listing writing credentials is to reassure a potential agent or editor that you're not a risky investment for their time or money. Of course decent credits in the genre you're pitching would be great, but if you don't have any yet, any credits that will demonstrate that you're both literate and at least moderately talented should suffice. The advice to list them all and pick the best is perfect. Two or three will probably be enough, but if you have a particularly extensive list of credits to your name, you may wish to say something like, "My work has appeared in more than 50 national print publications, including X, Y, and Z." Pick up a copy of Writer's Market or a query letter how-to book and see how folks have handled is successfully in the past. There are also resources online for sample query letters (but be sure to carefully evaluate samples from unverified sources). Good luck! I'd be interested to hear what you decide to do.
07-15-2006, 09:00 PM
Any writing credit is better than no writing credit, so I'd use the two or three best I had to offer. But if you're writing fiction, it's fiction credits that make an impression. No other writing credit tells an agent you can write fiction except fiction writing credits.
Exactly. I would have said just what James did.
07-16-2006, 02:54 AM
To date, I have been leaving those credits out of my queries, believing them to be irrelevant.
I will do exactly as suggested and pick two or three from the short list, and see if that improves my luck with the agents. Hopefully, I'll soon be posting on the "Goals and Accomplishments" board!
07-16-2006, 03:20 AM
Ideally, you're listing credits the editor has heard of. For SF/F, I could list Asimov's (I wish!), Analog (yeah, right), and Realms of Fantasy (actually, I can list that one.) Most editors in the genre know these magazines, and sales will count for something.
If I list credits they've never heard of, one of two things will happen. They'll either ignore 'em, or else they'll take a moment to Google 'em (if they're bored that day.)
If a Google result pulls up a respectible publication, that could still help you. If all you're listing is a few unpaid, low-circulation, fanzine type publications, that's probably not going to help at all.
And I've been told that listing lots of unpaid publications (or vanity types) in a cover letter can actually hurt, as it tends to mark you as more of an amateur. I wouldn't list a Publish America novel as a credit, for instance.
07-16-2006, 05:38 AM
Ideally, you're listing credits the editor has heard of.
I doubt an editor or agent will have heard of the credits I have (unless they are or used to be a lawyer). All of them (with the exception of one college literary journal) are academic/professional in nature (Bar Journals and the like). If my credits were even remotely related to scifi, I wouldn't hesitate to list them proudly.
Therein lies the dilemna that caused me to post this thread.
07-16-2006, 08:54 PM
But what if your Publish America book was reviewed in a national reviewing magazine and received a high score? Should you still not mention it?
07-17-2006, 01:30 AM
Thanks, James. I was thinking of Romatic Times Magazine. They review all romances, I believe, plus mainstream, mystery, etc. I know of two PA books that received excellent reviews. Others did not.
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