STATUS: Happy to be back in the office for a good long time. I plan to get caught up on everything I’ve been behind on. Yippee. I’m sure there is much rejoicing from my clients too. Are you done traveling yet hasn’t been asked but I’m sure was on all their minds!
What song is playing on the iPod right now? WITCHY WOMAN by The Eagles
Sometimes I’m constantly amazed by what writers stress about in their query letters.
I imagine Miss Snark and other blogs have addressed this already but time for my own take. I know Miss S has talked about her frustration with writers obsessing about font size and type and the best one, the brightness of the paper used for the sample pages.
As long as it’s clean, neat, and not strange to read, it really doesn’t matter much. All decisions will be made based on the quality of the writing. Even if the submission smells like an ashtray (tough because I HATE the smell of cigarette smoke but I still hold the pages a foot away to give them a read).
But the latest obsession that I’ve been privy to is writers obsessing about what to include in the bio section of the query letter.
Stop. This isn’t rocket science.
I’ll start with telling you what not to include.
Too Much Information. If the detail could be considered so, don’t include. My favorite? The guy who wrote a query and included in his bio that he was gay for so many years (and gave the dates), was cured (but it took several years and he gave those dates), and is now happily married (and included those dates).
And no, this wasn’t a nonfiction project for the Christian/Inspirational market on how to stop being gay. It was for a novel and the concept of being gay (or not) was not part of the story line.
Don’t include that.
All of you have innate common sense (or the good majority of us do). What would your common sense tell you to include?
Length? What do you think? If you are new, one short paragraph. Previously published authors can certainly include a bullet point outline of publishing history (book titles, publisher, year published) if they are looking to move agents but that would be a separate list)
Publishing history if you have any. If you don’t have any, for goodness sake, don’t harp on it. Keep it short. Like “XYZ is my first novel.” Short and sweet. I’ve taken on NUMEROUS debut authors and have sold them just fine.
Nonfiction pubs okay to include but they don’t hold a lot of weight when selling a novel. A must-have if you are shopping an NF proposal.
Do you have any background or experience that lends credence to your story? You might have a degree in horticulture/botany and your heroine is a botanist helping to solve a mystery.
That would be a good detail to include. It directly relates to the concept in your novel.
Otherwise include something like “I currently live in XYZ city with my spouse, two kids, and the pet hamster.”
I like a little personal detail. It humanizes you.
Other than that, don’t obsess. Just consult with your CS. It won’t lead you wrong.