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Carrie-Anne
05-04-2011, 08:59 AM
As soon as I get my epic historical Russian novel as polished as I can make it during my final revision of it going on 10 years after I finished it, I'm going to start querying it again. In the bio paragraph, I'm obviously going to include the relevant information that my degree is in history and Russian and Eastern European studies. But would it be considered juvenile or irrelevant to also mention that Russian history, literature, culture, etc., was also my area of focus/expertise in my high school history and English classes? I wrote quite a few papers and gave a number of presentations on topics in Russian history and literature, which were all well-received by both teachers and students. I think a lot of my teachers were surprised to find out a teenager who was that well-versed in the subject! And I did write the book from the ages of 13 to 21, so obviously my knowledge and research came in handy.

Would it be better to just put what my college degree is in and then mention how it was also my special area of focus in high school after finding an agent, or would that possibly give me an edge since it would show how far back my familiarity with this material goes?

Becca C.
05-04-2011, 09:33 AM
I think mentioning high school stuff would come off as juvenile, even if you did do some intense research and presentations. Sorry! You could tell an agent all this stuff during phone calls or emails regarding offers of rep, but doing so in the query might hurt you more than it could help you.

Kewii
05-04-2011, 10:13 AM
I think mentioning high school stuff would come off as juvenile, even if you did do some intense research and presentations. Sorry! You could tell an agent all this stuff during phone calls or emails regarding offers of rep, but doing so in the query might hurt you more than it could help you.

Agreed.

It sounds like in high school that you were really focused on Russian history. But I think without the background you've given here it might come off more like an average student who did a project once and thinks that makes them an expert.

I'd just write about the university stuff. It sounds more serious and focused.

PinkAmy
05-04-2011, 02:23 PM
I think mentioning high school stuff would come off as juvenile, even if you did do some intense research and presentations. Sorry! You could tell an agent all this stuff during phone calls or emails regarding offers of rep, but doing so in the query might hurt you more than it could help you.

Strongly agree.
I think the same applies to your college experience, but do add any relevant published writing. Agents are going to assume you're professional and that you've done your research. IMHO telling them I studied this or that sounds amateurish, like you're trying to find something to write because you don't have credentials (which lots of first time writers also do not have.) For example- everyone told me to leave out all the articles and studies I wrote in grad school, because I wrote a memoir and even the published work was irrelevant. It was a different type of writing and not on topic. Plus, publishing journal articles isn't uncommon in grad school, it's routine. College is still young, even though it feels a lot older if you're in college when compared to HS.

Whimsigirl
05-04-2011, 05:39 PM
Agree that you should leave out high school stuff, but do mention the college degree. Above all, though, let your writing speak for itself.

Jamesaritchie
05-04-2011, 06:14 PM
Considering your college credentials, your high school experience sounds unnecessary, but you mention whatever you have. Even if it doesn't help, it never does any harm.

JSSchley
05-04-2011, 07:33 PM
Strongly agree.
I think the same applies to your college experience, but do add any relevant published writing. Agents are going to assume you're professional and that you've done your research. IMHO telling them I studied this or that sounds amateurish, like you're trying to find something to write because you don't have credentials (which lots of first time writers also do not have.) For example- everyone told me to leave out all the articles and studies I wrote in grad school, because I wrote a memoir and even the published work was irrelevant. It was a different type of writing and not on topic. Plus, publishing journal articles isn't uncommon in grad school, it's routine. College is still young, even though it feels a lot older if you're in college when compared to HS.

All of this. The bachelor's degree is still not a specialization degree. People major in all sorts of things and go on to do work that has nothing to do with it.

Show through the details you put in your query and the vividness of your opening pages that you know your stuff, but unless you're the one of the foremost experts on the period you're writing about, I'd leave out the "This is what I did in school" stuff because it will likely make you sound like more of an amateur instead of less of one.

Jamesaritchie
05-04-2011, 08:50 PM
All of this. The bachelor's degree is still not a specialization degree. People major in all sorts of things and go on to do work that has nothing to do with it.

Show through the details you put in your query and the vividness of your opening pages that you know your stuff, but unless you're the one of the foremost experts on the period you're writing about, I'd leave out the "This is what I did in school" stuff because it will likely make you sound like more of an amateur instead of less of one.

It's still something you absolutely should mention. It helps. No one cares whether it's a specialization degree. You aren't applying for a job. Anything that shows you have knowledge of the area you're writing in separates you from those who can't say the same thing.

maestrowork
05-04-2011, 10:20 PM
Cut the high school stuff. You may keep the Russian and history study in college because it's relevant to your historical novel.

Miriel
05-04-2011, 11:17 PM
I'd just include a quick line about what you majored in in college -- that seems to trump all the HS stuff, making mentioning it redundant.

Lucy
05-05-2011, 02:11 AM
Also, whatever you do, please don't mention it took you 10 years to write it or it is now 10 years after you finished it (it is unclear from your sentence which it is.)