How much personal information to include in a query

Submission protocol, query etiquette, and strategies that work
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RiayNight
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How much personal information to include in a query

Post by RiayNight » December 23rd, 2009, 4:12 pm

Hi everyone! My name is Jordan and this is my first post here at Nathan's forums. I've been an avid reader of his blog for about six months now, and I look forward to participating in the forums as well :)

That having been said, I have a question that needs a few fellow writer opinions--How much personal information should I include in my query?

Now, I know that you don't want to waste words and an agent's time by giving them your whole personal life and back story, so this question is specific to my situation. I'm a sophomore Creative Writing major in college right now, and I've finished my first manuscript which is currently going through it's second full edit, and I plan to be querying by January. However, like I said, I'm only a sophomore in college and I have zero publishing credits to my name. Right now, the final paragraph of my query simply reads: [TITLE] falls into the Young Adult Paranormal category, and consists of XXX words. It is my first novel, and the complete manuscript is available at your request. Thank you for your time and consideration.

I personally like that just fine, but I'm wondering if an agent would crave a little more personal information. On the other end of the spectrum, I don't want to be advertising the fact that I'm only twenty years old and that I'm a college student.

So, what do you all think? Is the ending paragraph sufficient, or should I think about including a little bit more information?

Thanks everybody!

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Bryan Russell/Ink
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Re: How much personal information to include in a query

Post by Bryan Russell/Ink » December 23rd, 2009, 7:20 pm

I think it's sufficient. You don't want blather. You can say you're a creative writing major. At this point, the agent will have read the query and will have formed strong opinions about the story idea and the writing. If it's great they won't really care about your age. If it's not for them it won't really matter what you write. Unless, you know, it says "I am Michael Chabon." The bio helps them get a feel for you if they're at all interested. So don't sweat it. I think what you have is sufficient.
The Alchemy of Writing at www.alchemyofwriting.blogspot.com

JenLT
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Re: How much personal information to include in a query

Post by JenLT » December 23rd, 2009, 10:11 pm

Hi. I don't think it is important to have a lot of personal information unless it would serve a purpose. I've read that it is neither necessary or a particularly good idea to include the sentence "this is my first novel." I'm sure not all agents feel that way, but a few have commented that it sets off red flags. I guess they think that a person's first novel is more likely to be rife with problems and that the more you have written the better it gets. I also don't think it is necessary to mention your age or year in college. I'm not sure what else you could say in that last paragraph. Perhaps it is best to keep it short and simple. Good luck with your query letter!

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OtherLisa
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Re: How much personal information to include in a query

Post by OtherLisa » December 23rd, 2009, 10:20 pm

Howdy Jordan!

The personal information that you want to include is anything relevant to the topic of the book -- by that I don't mean, "the book deals with the emotional turmoil of losing one's parents, and oh, by the way, I'm an orphan," but say, your book is set in Germany and you've lived there, or it's about nuclear physics and you have a degree in physics from MIT. Stuff like that. Otherwise, yeah, what everyone else said. And definitely do not include that it's your first novel.

Best of luck on your novel!

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CharleeVale
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Re: How much personal information to include in a query

Post by CharleeVale » December 24th, 2009, 10:02 am

I think it sounds good. Glad to know there's another college student on these forums!

CV

RiayNight
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Re: How much personal information to include in a query

Post by RiayNight » December 24th, 2009, 10:13 pm

Thank you so much for all the opinions! I do think I'll keep what I have--it was really helpful to get a few outside opinions from fellow writers to reinforce my decision though! Thanks again!

P.S.--Hey Charlee! It's nice for me to know that there's another college student here too! :) Good luck with your writing endeavors!

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