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Author Topic: Author Bio  (Read 1391 times)
J. Paul Barnett
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« on: October 05, 2017, 09:50:17 AM »

A lot of the agents I'm looking into querying request a query letter AND an author bio (implying that it is a separate component pasted after the query letter). I have no published credits to my name, or awards, or really anything related to writing other than a lifelong passion for it. I'm a software engineer. I live in Texas. I have two cats and a wife. That's about it. My life is pretty boring.

So what does an author bio look like for someone like me?
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MaryL
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« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2017, 10:11:41 AM »

For non-fiction, an author bio is critical to prove up expertise in the content area. For fiction, it's not as big a deal. I had nothing to my credit when I queried. I mentioned my degrees, my writer group affiliations, and location.

I included my teaching experience with teens and the fact I had my own because I was writing for teens. I included the acting coach experience to demonstrate I was capable of public speaking, which has been super useful with school visits and speaking engagements. I don't know if any of this helps with agents, and I'm sure others will chime in. I know it's okay to be very brief. It's mainly helpful if you have pub credits. My bio would be different now.

Unpublished query bio was something like (I'm sure it was better worded than this):

Prior to attending law school at the University of Houston Law Center, I received a B.A. in English literature. I have taught English and history in public and private schools and currently teach method acting to adults and older teens in a private studio. I live on the Texas Gulf Coast with my husband and three teens and am a member of WHRWA, RWA, Writers' League of Texas and am the co-founder of Houston YA/MG Writers and am a founding member of the QueryTracker Blog.

Wishing you the best with your queries, Lykaon!
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I write YA for Penguin USA and romance for Entangled Publishing.
Repped by Kevan Lyon of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency
http://www.marylindsey.com  and  http://www.marissaclarke.com
J. Paul Barnett
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« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2017, 12:23:38 PM »

Thanks! Always nice to get advice from a fellow Texan!
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Sarah Ahiers (Falen)
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« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2017, 02:11:47 PM »

My pre-published bio included stuff like writing conferences that I regularly attended, writing teachers I studied under, that sort of thing.
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Repped by Mollie Glick of CAA
ASSASSIN'S HEART 2016 HarperTeen
I hang out at Sarah Ahiers Writes
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J. Paul Barnett
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« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2017, 02:17:36 PM »

My pre-published bio included stuff like writing conferences that I regularly attended, writing teachers I studied under, that sort of thing.

I have none of those things. I am a member of the San Antonio Writers Guild. That's the only writing-related thing I've got going for me (other than the fact that I have a college degree, so obviously I've got some learnin').

I guess my author bio will either be very short, or I'll take my chances with omitting it entirely to those agents who list it.

It might help me to understand what the agents want this information for. Is it so they can judge me for not attending conferences and training specifically in writing? If I'm just a former software engineer who likes to write, is that going to limit my chances (assuming the work itself is good, of course)?
« Last Edit: October 05, 2017, 02:44:25 PM by J. Paul Barnett » Logged
gckatz
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« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2017, 05:10:18 PM »

I don't have many credentials either--I wasn't an English major and I don't go for conferences and writers' groups and the like--so I just went for the extremely brief one-line bio when it was specifically requested. "Gwen Katz lives in Pasadena with her husband and assorted animals." I don't believe I ever suffered either from lack of credentials or from the brevity of my bio.
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jcwrites
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« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2017, 09:43:50 PM »

"If I'm just a former software engineer who likes to write, is that going to limit my chances (assuming the work itself is good, of course)?"

No.

Agents want to know (A) first if someone thought enough of your work to pay you for it, i.e., a magazine article, short story, etc. The operative word here is "pay", as in cash. And (B) they'll be interested in your education or experience insofar as it relates to the novel you've written. Otherwise, your curriculum vitae is largely irrelevant at this point.

If you don't have paid credits, or--for example--a law degree to back up your legal thriller, then simply leave your bio blank. They'll know what that means, and they know writers have to begin their career somewhere.
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atwhatcost
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« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2017, 10:32:51 PM »

I was going to go with nothing, since I've never been published for fiction, but the agents want to know something about me. So I told them what I learned that made me qualified to write this story.
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MichelleG
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« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2017, 09:28:35 PM »

When it comes to fiction the only thing that goes in your bio is writing credit you got paid for or if you won an award that every agent knows has heard of or education directly related to the subject matter of your story. Membership in a writing association whose only requirement for membership is to pay their dues does not get a mention in your bio.
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"You look at these scattered houses, and you are impressed by their beauty. I look at them, and the only thought which comes to me is a feeling of isolation and the impunity with which crime may be committed there." - Sherlock Homes, The Copper Beeches - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
drose
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« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2017, 08:17:52 AM »

I disagree about the mention of memberships.  This from a 2016 post by Chuck Sambuchino:

"If you’re writing fiction, you do not need to have a bio. You can always just wrap up your query letter by thanking them for considering the submission. That said, if you have anything to say about yourself (awards you’ve won, organizations you belong to, any publishing credits of any kind, interesting background that pertains to the story), yes, go ahead and list such notes quickly and humbly. They can almost never hurt, and they can certainly help sometimes. I’ve seen a writer pen a mediocre query, but their bio listed several short stories published with notable publications. At that point, the agent doesn’t even care if the query is poor. The awards won verify that the writer can write."

I don't have any publishing credits or awards. I do mention the memberships. I, for one, have benefited from my RWA and the local chapter membership. I think it shows the agent you are serious about your writing career. Great publishing credits, a great query and superb writing triumph, but it can't hurt.
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MaryL
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« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2017, 09:26:14 PM »

Here's what I've learned about queries/writing/publishing (many years, three agents, and 15 contracted/published books later). There are no hard and fast rules. Do what makes you comfortable. I've had agents tell me the bio makes no difference at all--only the project. Others say they like to know that the writer is active in their writing community (this is especially true of RWA for romance writers). Do what's right for you. Try everything. One size doesn't fit all--sometimes it doesn't fit anyone but you.
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I write YA for Penguin USA and romance for Entangled Publishing.
Repped by Kevan Lyon of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency
http://www.marylindsey.com  and  http://www.marissaclarke.com
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