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View Full Version : They ask for what experience you have. You don't have none



MissMacchiato
03-09-2011, 04:52 AM
:)

What do you say? if they've specifically asked for your writing credits or experience, and this is a debut novel?

Is there some diplomatic, 'doesn't make me sound desperate' way of phrasing the fact that you're unpublished to date?

jvc
03-09-2011, 04:55 AM
Apart from just not saying anything, maybe go with 'I don't have any writing credits, this is my first work', or something along those line.

Have you sent the query, and they've come back with that question, or is it in the guidelines to list writing credits in the query letter?

MissMacchiato
03-09-2011, 05:01 AM
It's in the guidelines of a few of the agents I want to query, and I was wondering what to say. A few have asked for your credentials in writing specifically what you write. IE, I'm a doctor, which uniquely qualifies me to write medical romances, or whatever. Since I write paranormal romance, it's not like I have first hand experience of vamps and such, but I plan on saying the following:

I have a Masters in Museum Studies which has given me unique insight into Emily's (character's) position within the cultural sector.

I wanted to add a sentence about this being my first book, as it's specifically requested in the submission guidelines, but i'm not sure how to phrase it.

LisaAnn
03-09-2011, 05:18 AM
I'm kind of in the same boat with my submissions, as I'm a zookeeper and animal trainer moonlighting as a wanna-be novelist.

I have a minor in magazine journalism, and I won some awards in college--which I listed out in my first drafts of my query letter--but I quickly learned (after my first 24 hour standard rejection) that my agents weren't interested in those few awards I won a thousand years ago.

Instead, I focused in on why I was the only person in the world who could possibly tell my story. (My protagonist is the daughter of an animal researcher, and there are lots of hands-on interactions with both rehabilitated and wild animals in my story. Sounds kinda like your relationship with your Emily.)

I also (quickly) mentioned my background in magazine journalism and the fact that I've written many of my zoo's promotional advertisements, website blurbs, and newsletter articles. And I left it at that.

I would NOT highlight the fact that this is your first novel in your query letter. I've heard this is a rookie's mistake, as agents will assume this is your first novel if you don't mention having written any other novels. And I would mostly stick to talking about your amazing story and your unique background in Museum Studies. (I received a full manuscript request from the first agent who received my new and improved query letter... I think she appreciated my uniqueness, and I'm sure yours will too! :))

MissMacchiato
03-09-2011, 07:10 AM
Thanks Lisa.

There's not a huge amount about the heritage industry in the book but it's as close as I can get to being qualified, you know? Lol

Good luck with yours, it must be a fascinating job, so you see you've caught my interest!

mscelina
03-09-2011, 07:14 AM
Hey MM--might want to address the double negative in your thread title. What you're really saying with "You don't have none" is "You have some." :)

back on topic--don't ever make up fake credits. It's a lot better to be brand spanking new than to get busted in a lie. In the end, the agent doesn't care how many credits you have as long as the manuscript is good. No worries. :)

MissMacchiato
03-09-2011, 07:25 AM
Lol, thanks. The title is just facetious.

And I promise not to make any credits up :)

eta -- I do actually have the masters. I meant, that I don't really have any other qualifications (formal or otherwise) that would come close to being related to what I have written... I realise now that in my previous post, it sounded more like I didn't have the masters qualification, but was stating I did. Or something. Now I'm just confusing myself so I'm going to stop typing.

PinkAmy
03-09-2011, 04:34 PM
I was told to include my degrees if they were in the field of my memoir, which they happen to be.

I have a Masters in Museum Studies which has given me unique insight into Emily's (character's) position within the cultural sector.
Unique insight? I think that may be overstating. You wrote the character so of course you have unique insight, not because of your degree. If you said Like me, Emily has a Msters in Museum Studies, and I use some of my practical experience in the XYZ portion of my manuscript--that sounds a lot better because you've been specific and you haven't overpromised.

ChaosTitan
03-09-2011, 07:04 PM
If you don't have any relevant credits, then don't write anything for that part of the query. And don't say "I'm unpublished" or "this is my first novel." By having no bio/credits in the query, that's already implied.

LisaAnn
03-10-2011, 12:05 AM
Good luck with yours, it must be a fascinating job, so you see you've caught my interest!

Thanks, Miss Macchiato! I feel things would probably be a lot easier for both of us if we had masters degrees in English or creative writing, but maybe our quirks can be strengths as well? (Here's hoping, anyway... ;))

Tromboli
03-10-2011, 12:22 AM
It is better to omit that part of the query than to say you are unpublished. Don't point out that you are a newbie. It isn't like you are misleading them, they know by the lack of credits but it only looks worse when you specifically point it out. Saying what you do for a living if you can compare it to your writing won't hurt but it honestly won't help either. You want to make the letter as short as possible so there is no need to add in things that don't matter the agent.

If you have nothing to write simply write your hook/summary then thank them for their time. Maybe add a line about why you are querying them in particular then that's it. No points will be lost for adding nothing. (you simply get extra points for having good credentials)

LisaAnn
03-10-2011, 02:34 AM
Saying what you do for a living if you can compare it to your writing won't hurt but it honestly won't help either. You want to make the letter as short as possible so there is no need to add in things that don't matter the agent.

I gotta respectfully disagree with you on this one, Tromboli. You obviously don't want to prattle on endlessly about yourself, but if you're a world-renowned brain surgeon turned writer of medical thrillers, I can't see how that wouldn't matter to an agent... However, I do agree that you want to keep your query as short as possible, so if your occupation doesn't have a direct connection to your characters, it may be a good idea to omit it.

Tromboli
03-10-2011, 03:07 AM
I am not advising anyone not to insert their professional credentials, just saying that there is not a great chance that it will help. There are some circumstances in which it will help... but not many. So just because it may be helpful to some people doesn't mean that you should find someway to tie in your career to your writing so that you have something to write. Only write it if you really think it will add interest and merit to your writing.

MissMacchiato
03-10-2011, 03:17 AM
Trom, that's kind of exactly what I thought too, but if they've asked for something specifically, isn't your (and by your I mean, mine) lack of response meaning that you are failing to address the submission criteria?

I guess that's what I'm worried about. Frankly, I'm hoping my story is strong enough to stand pretty much on it's own, without me rambling about my 'fascinating' job or experience or what have you, since i kind of see them as irrelevant too. Who cares what I do? What matters is whether I wrote a good story, ya know?

Kristoff
03-10-2011, 03:39 AM
Trom, that's kind of exactly what I thought too, but if they've asked for something specifically, isn't your (and by your I mean, mine) lack of response meaning that you are failing to address the submission criteria?

If they've specifically asked, you should put something, but padding for the sake of it can annoy them. Fair enough if you were the first woman on the moon and you wrote a book about space travel, but if your job is sorta related to your protag's, that's not really going to do much to pump your cred (imo). If your job gives insight, that will show in your writing.

I'd just keep it simple. "<insert title here> is my first novel". Says it all succinctly, and lets your writing speak for itself. :)

Tromboli
03-10-2011, 04:00 AM
No. you are not breaking any submission criteria. As long as your only talking about a query letter, just because they say add a writers credits doesn't mean you have to tell them that you have none. If they say they want a separate writers bio of your writing credentials then I guess you may want to add one, even if it is only one or two sentences.
But don't write that this is your first novel. I have heard straight from the mouths of top agents never to do this. It implies that this is the first thing you have written-- which it not a good thing. You may write that you have no previous publication to speak of, that is all.

waylander
03-10-2011, 02:17 PM
Curtis Brown agent Nathan Bransford's view on this
http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2008/03/how-and-whether-to-list-your-publishing.html

PinkAmy
03-10-2011, 05:53 PM
I guess that's what I'm worried about. Frankly, I'm hoping my story is strong enough to stand pretty much on it's own, without me rambling about my 'fascinating' job or experience or what have you, since i kind of see them as irrelevant too. Who cares what I do? What matters is whether I wrote a good story, ya know?

Yes. Your MS is going to need to stand on it's own regardless of whether you have job experience or not. I like the world renowned brain surgeon example. I don't see how your degree adds anything to your query unless it is unique and exciting. If you were writing about an American teenager going to a Swiss Boarding school, and you did, that would be interesting...based on my experiences... If you were writing about going to college and you did, not so interesting. Your degree is unique, but not very exciting (sorry, I know it's exciting to you, I don't think it will be to the general population).