View Full Version : First Novel Query Letter Bio? - To Include or Not to Include?

01-26-2010, 08:57 AM
I was wondering if some successful query letter veterans might be able to think back to their very first queries (before they had any publishing credits) and tell a completely unpublished novelist what to put in query a bio. Or to put one in at all? I've read a lot about query letters and a lot of rules seem to contradict themselves. Most sources suggest you add a bio. But they also say that irrelevant personal information is the kiss of death. I have a few vaguely relevant things -- A Master's in library science along with a few articles published in an EXTREMELY small British business magazine in Taiwan (I would be shocked if anyone in the US had ever seen it as 99.9% of Taiwanese people wouldn't have). I also won Honorable mention in a fiction writing contest my college ran. It was a good college but not exactly a huge name. I'm also trying to publish a fantasy novel, so none of these are highly relevant except maybe the last one which has never struck me as all that impressive. What do you all think? Do I try to play these details up for all they're worth or leave them out entirely?

01-26-2010, 09:03 AM
If you mention them, just be brief. I'd mention the library sciences just so they have some idea of who you are (some agents care, some agents don't care), and then maybe the articles if you also list the title with publication name (so the agents can find them).

Whatever you do, don't apologize for lack of credentials, and don't feel you need to qualify what you have by explaining your desire to be a writer. (That's implied with you seeking representation.)

Welcome to AW. :)

01-26-2010, 09:04 AM
LiMeiLing, if you don't have anything that will wow an agent or is relevant to your current project, then don't put a bio in at all.

A simple: Dear Ms. Agent.

Wowing query bit here.

Title of Story is a 150,000 word fantasy novel.


LiMeiLing will suffice.

Hope this helps.

01-26-2010, 09:25 AM
Thanks for the advice and the welcome, katiemac! :) And thank you, too, Anaquana! I am kinda leaning toward Anaquana's method on the basis that if they're not interested in my story pitch, nothing can save me... But I'm still waffling on this. And my book's also more like 230,000 words. *proceeds to choke on her own word count* I live in constant fear of it being rejected on word count alone but it's just how long my story is. I'm happy with the story and willing to defend its length but I know it's outside the industry's norm.

01-26-2010, 10:20 AM
I worried this might be the case. I completely missed the excellent answer given to this question by the board's friendly visiting literary agent, Jennifer Laughran. I'll re-post it here in case anyone else makes the same mistake as me. I honestly did try to see if anyone had asked first. Thank you to everyone for being so nice to me (or at least ignoring my ignorance) even if I am lost and confused! :)

Originally Posted by C.J. Rockwell View Post 1. Of all the important information you need to include in your query letter, one thing that has confused me is the section in which you write a short bio mentioning any important credentials about yourself, I've heard various agents say "skip it if you've got nothing." to "include something about yourself." 2. I read in your bio on the agency website that you adore simplicity. Could you elaborate? It's something I'm still learning.

1. Things to mention: Publishing Credits. Major awards. Graduate studies, esp MFA in Writing for Children. PLATFORM. (ie, You have a drive-time radio show with a daily audience of 40,000 fans. Or, You are the world's foremost expert on Gorilla Habitat and the Sierra Club has offered to buy 10,000 copies of this book as a promotion. Etc.) If you don't have any of those, skip it. Seriously. That's fine. Putting in a bunch of fluff about how you self-publish a monthly newsletter with a circulation of 20, or you went to community college for two semesters to study dental hygiene, doesn't impress me, and in fact, does the opposite. It is much better to put nothing, than to put a bunch of filler. If you have nothing to say in that paragraph, "Thank you for your time" will do. 2. I think it is funny that you've asked me to elaborate on simplicity. :-) Last edited by Jennifer_Laughran; 09-10-2008 at 03:31 PM.