practical experience, FTW
Originally Posted by veinglory
I think it really depends on what the personal experience is. I'm working with a wannabe writer right now who is dealing with some issues himself. He presents himself as a professional in a particular industry, but if he spilled all the stuff he's dealing with his professional credibility (and his credibility as an expert in his field which is the basis for his writing) would be shot. He is better off keeping his personal struggles to himself and drawing on other expertise for credentials and credibility related to his subject matter.
And there can be the 'scaring off' factor too. Certain issues can translate into heavy hand-holding/rescuing/talking down off ledges/or damage control. Once an agent has committed to a person and their project, they are very likely to develop a genuine concern for their client and be willing to do what it takes to ensure everyone's success. But sometimes, to know all of that in advance might make someone reluctant to take the chance.
I think you want to get past the introduction phase to the genuinely interested phase before you reveal much more than the fact that you can write and you have a deep understanding of the subject matter.
To present an alternative angle, it might not be a dealbreaker for agents, but how they handle it could be a dealbreaker for you, the author. There's so much focus on getting an agent, that writers tend to forget that the query process is as much for them as it is for agents. The writer needs to be as happy with their agent as that agent is with their manuscript, and to that end, if you have a relevant reason for including personal information that could cause an agent to stereotype or reject you, why not include it? Saves you some time and angst if they are the type to generalize and fear what they don't understand, rather than have to deal with it later, after you've had the joy of having your manuscript picked up for representation.
Originally Posted by Drachen Jager