Bio Info in a Query?

Submission protocol, query etiquette, and strategies that work
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oldhousejunkie
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Bio Info in a Query?

Post by oldhousejunkie » January 26th, 2011, 5:05 pm

I know we recently tackled the concept of writing a separate bio for submission to an agent, but as I was compiling my list of possible agents, I noticed many of them asked for biographical info to be included in a query. These mentions seemed to be aimed at finding out about the writer, and not necessarily if they have been published.

Has anyone encountered this? And if so, how did you deal with it? I ended up adding a blurb to the end of my query about my education and current employment as a historian (since I write historical fiction), but was concerned about adding any more info. I certainly did not want to get all mushy about how long I've been writing, etc. Should I add in additional information about my research?

Any help is appreciated! Thanks is advance!

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Watcher55
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Re: Bio Info in a Query?

Post by Watcher55 » January 26th, 2011, 5:24 pm

I'm not sure, but the assumption I'm going with is that the agent is looking for a personal connection to the book. It seems like it's better to just say something about yourself that would look good on the cover flap.

Just guessing, since I question my own logic on this.

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Re: Bio Info in a Query?

Post by HillaryJ » January 26th, 2011, 7:03 pm

If you've been researching the specific era or some facet thereof that has strengthened the story, then you might mention it. My general rule is that, unless you're listing successful publishing credits, two lines about yourself is sufficient. If an agent likes the sounds of your story, s/he isn't going to reject it for lack of an extensive bio.
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Re: Bio Info in a Query?

Post by cheekychook » January 26th, 2011, 9:55 pm

Right, an agent who is interested in the story isn't going to reject it based on a missing bio line. However, agents who specify that they want to know something about you, personally, probably do hope that you'll follow their instructions and will include a blurb about yourself. I'd stay away from rambling personal statements and stick with brief and either relevant or interesting facts.

Listing degrees or educational background can either give potential reason you might have expertise in the subject matter or will at least show that you have completed the task of attaining the degree (you're capable of finishing/seeing projects through). Likewise, work experience in a field related to your subject matter might prove that you have personal knowledge or perhaps unique insight into your topic. An interesting tidbit of personal info can also help an agent to make a connection to you---make you slightly less of an anonymous blip in their inbox. More and more agents are looking to know that their potential clients are internet savvy and have a web presence, so mentions of activity on writing-related sites (cough, Bransforums, etc) or that you have a blog are becoming more commonplace (and almost expected).

I attended an online webinar hosted by a major agent (Irene Goodman) and she talked a lot about queries---a critique of your query letter came with the webinar (and could be submitted after the webinar so you could apply what she said to your letter). She stressed that it was not even necessarily important that you already had a blog, just that you had the willingness to start one and the knowledge that online activity is important. I had a line about my educational background and a mention of my online activities including forums on which I'm active and my blog activity. She said my query letter was very well written, so I guess I got it right.

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Re: Bio Info in a Query?

Post by oldhousejunkie » February 2nd, 2011, 5:08 pm

cheekychook wrote:I attended an online webinar hosted by a major agent (Irene Goodman) and she talked a lot about queries---a critique of your query letter came with the webinar (and could be submitted after the webinar so you could apply what she said to your letter). She stressed that it was not even necessarily important that you already had a blog, just that you had the willingness to start one and the knowledge that online activity is important. I had a line about my educational background and a mention of my online activities including forums on which I'm active and my blog activity. She said my query letter was very well written, so I guess I got it right.
I wish I would have known about this webinar! Irene Goodman is on my "A" list for agents. I definitely appreciate knowing her thoughts on querying.

And thanks to everyone for your thoughts as well!

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