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Author Topic: Bio - Shared Background with Agent?  (Read 6103 times)
MookyMcD
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« Reply #15 on: January 11, 2018, 12:13:17 PM »

Since we all probably agree this stuff belongs at the end of the query if it's going to be in there at all, the question can be looked at more easily as: Would an agent who otherwise liked the premise, voice, and story described in the meat of your query change her mind about reading your attached pages because you said you belonged to a group.

If I were an agent and that group were the KKK, the answer might well be yes. But a writing group? I seriously doubt there is a single agent on the planet who would decide not to read pages she otherwise found intriguing because someone belongs to a writing group. And once she's reading those pages, what happens next is up to them.
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Sarah Ahiers (Falen)
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« Reply #16 on: January 11, 2018, 03:45:16 PM »

Very nice way of breaking it down, Mooky!
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Curious Author
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« Reply #17 on: January 11, 2018, 08:06:33 PM »

So, "respect" is only given to someone if they are published and proven members? Really?

Bizarre, since this was about someone who was NOT published. Really bizarre since that was the topic in the first place -- what to include if you are NOT published. Unpublished should have no voice, because there is no respect? And respect is earned by proof? No one gave proof!

I said that Sarah and gwenckatz both regularly give their time and energy to posts on this site. That has earned my respect. The fact that they are recently published YA authors (something noted in both of their signatures) makes them credible sources.

Nowhere did I say that respect is limited to unpublished writers. I also pointed to my very recent querying experience as a proof of what I was saying.

Anyway, Sarah gave an excellent breakdown of the rest of your points and Mooky said it succinctly. I encourage you to learn what you can from these boards from both the published writers and those still in the writing/querying/submission trenches.
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atwhatcost
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« Reply #18 on: January 24, 2018, 08:56:12 AM »

So, "respect" is only given to someone if they are published and proven members? Really?

No one even remotely said that.

"I'm published" doesn't mean "I'm published for the MG/YA audience recently, so I'm up-to-date on what all those agents want." And exactly why would anyone keep up with who said what, until they need to know who said what now?

In this case it does. Both myself and Gkatz ARE published in kidlit. And recently. We both had book release in 2017. I have an MFA in writing for children and young adults. I teach writing to teens and adults, and teach MFA writing students how to write query letters and how to query in general.

These are my stats but again, you don't have to take my word for it. All you have to do is look to see that the SCBWI has memberships of both published and unpublished writers (again, hence the crystal kit award) to know that being a member doesn't tell agents you're unpublished.

But outside of that, here are 4 posts from agents and publishing pros that says if you are a member of a nationally recognized organization to include that info in the bio:

http://agentcourtney.blogspot.com/2011/09/how-to-write-bio-paragraph-in-your.html

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/what-should-you-write-in-the-bio-paragraph-of-a-query-letter

http://writerunboxed.com/2013/05/27/may-2013/

https://www.janefriedman.com/query-letters/

"So, proof? Yeah, okay. I'll do that. But, since I really don't feel like going through my list just because you don't "respect" me, because I haven't been here enough time, not published, etc., I'll do this the obvious way. As I find them again.

There are a lot of different ways to earn respect, and for me, personally, none of them have to do with who is published and who has been here the longest, etc.

Of course, Curious Author was just talking about who they respected, not why, nor whether or not they respect you, and why or why not, so perhaps step back a bit from your projections and just take a deep breath.


Found one yesterday.

Tamar Rydzinski
Laura Dail Literary Agency, Inc.
NYC.

This isn't proof. This is just listing an agent. Please show us where Tamar Rydzinski said that you shouldn't include if you're a member in SCBWI in your bio, because it only tells the agent you're unpublished.

Or even if she says don't include that info for another reason, I would really like to see that. I have no problem owning up to when I'm wrong about something, because I'm frequently wrong about a lot of things, I just need to see it.

Truthfully, most (MG/YA) agents don't tell what they want except a bio.

Right, EXACTLY. So you understand then why we had an issue when you originally said this:

when I've investigated agents, I've found they seem different than the agents doing mainstream/books for grownups.

They do not want to know we're members of writing guilds. All that tells them is we haven't published yet.

Because these two statements are contradictory.

  • The one says MG and kidlit agents don't want to know if you're a member of writing guilds.

  • The other says MG and kidlit agents don't actually tell you what they want in a bio.

THIS is why we would like to see where you're getting your info from. Because you're bouncing all around here on your advice.
Sorry, was sick for a couple of weeks.

This is the point. You gave four links. The first one said the same thing I said. (If you don't have writing creds, tell a bit about yourself that connects with the agent.)

Two were from Chuck who is neither an agent, nor deals with children's books. And Jane doesn't deal with children's books. (Jane really doesn't deal with children's books. I like that about her. She's very no-nonsense. lol)

Yeah, couldn't find the interview/article/whatever that I found when looking up Tamar. Then again, I took hours studying agents when I found one I wanted, and I took brief notes. No use copy-pasting complete interviews, if there was only one thing I learned new from it.

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atwhatcost
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« Reply #19 on: January 24, 2018, 09:23:01 AM »

As for "my YA book was out in 2017" goes, I really am impressed by that. I really do listen to the two of you, but you're missing something here. Your book came out in 2017? How long ago did you find the agent that got it there for you? Years?

Here's my story. I started writing "the book" in 2011. I snooped a bit ahead of myself back then. Wanted to see what I was heading for.

Things I learned:
-- The average advance was $3000-$10,000.
-- The cost for printing out the MS was $.07 per page.
-- I'd need roughly 10 print out to send back and forth to potential agents. I'd need that because most agents didn't do it online.

Somewhere between 2011 and 2014, I snooped some more, because the MS was going through the editing stage by then. What I learned then:
-- The average advance was $700, and don't expect to get that much. Most don't do advances at all.
-- The cost of printing was up to $.11 a page.
-- Agents were beginning to accept attachments.

Do you see the humor there? All that snooping I did back then, just told me the same thing I know today. "Things change." They change quicker in this field than most fields. Frankly, agents have been, and continue to be, bombarded with crap, and here and there a good MS shows up. They're trying to find ways to wade that are faster and more efficient. AND, it is usually all about the MS itself. Either it grabs them or it doesn't. And the only way it grabs them is if something in that query grabs them too.

Most of what will grab them is the story. Does it seem up their alley? Could they possibly love it, because like it isn't good enough. Like comes across their desks every day. They have to be completely sold on it.

And then? Then they know they're getting into a relationship with another human being. Could they keep that relationship going? That relationship adds to their income, so they will, but only if they like the person too.

It's a little thing compared to everything else we do with our query. It really is, but that is what Jack asked. If nothing else, would telling an agent that he has something in common with that particular agent help?

YES! It would have. All things equal on the query and the MS. If the agent was on the fence by the time he/she read the query and the first few pages, that they had this one love in common would have told one other thing. That Jack had something in common with that particular agent. Relationships start with one commonality. For agents, the one is the MS. BUT, for a real relationship that says they might get along too, YES! That would have helped him. Just a teaspoon added to the bucket, but it would have helped.

But he didn't get that. He got one-size-fits-all, and then an argument because a mere-wannabe had the gall to disagree with "experts."

You are experts. But, that does NOT mean you've been keeping up with the changes in what agents want in 2018. You've got no need to keep up, so why would you?

I have, so why wouldn't I?

My goal is to not have to keep up. I will pray for the humility to not consider myself an expert on what agents want after that. Because one thing for sure, this field is changing constantly.
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GVonCarstein
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« Reply #20 on: January 26, 2018, 05:05:38 PM »

My goal is to not have to keep up. I will pray for the humility to not consider myself an expert on what agents want after that. Because one thing for sure, this field is changing constantly.

I hope for your sake that you aren't so aggressively argumentative if you ever do get 'the call' after querying. Discussion and debate are fine, but these posts are laced with a heavy 'chip on your shoulder' mentality. The high majority of people coming to these boards are here for learning and sharing, which has led to a collective knowledge base that is quite literally years in the making. Yes, things change in the industry, but things don't change so fast that it is impossible to keep up.

You presented a different concept than the collective knowledge suggested and were asked to show where you got the information. Becoming defensive and challenging people for a reason to request sources, bemoaning the amount of work you have put in to research and so on all suggest a deep frustration with the process you have undertaken. And this all in the name of arguing over what amounts to a minute point in a query letter which would be absolutely subjective to the individual agent.

Some will see it as a boon, some won't care. It's very unlikely an agent with any sort of positive reputation would take membership like this in a bad way.


And just to address some of your other points of change in the industry, advances have a wide range dependent on size of publisher, type of publisher, genre, author name recognition, diversity of author, and on and on. There is no standard, and rightly shouldn't be. Without any aggregate data on the range of your sources, I have no way of understanding what '$700 average' actually is because that number could take into account vanity presses, anthology submissions and other credited publishing methods that do not pay out the same as a Big 5 or even a Medium publishing house can.

Cost of printing is totally subjective to your area and the method used.

An agent/agencies acceptance of attachments even back in 2011 was not as clearly defined as you seem to think. Most continue to not want attachments in queries for three reasons: computer viruses, clogging up their computer, and most importantly for legal purposes. Many people out there do not read query guidelines, and so deleting attachment-based ones is an easy filter to weed out the same sorts of people who think that because they sent an agent their manuscript about vampires, and then that agent sells a book about vampires for a big publishing deal from another author, that the agent probably stole their MS/Idea. Frivolous lawsuit follows. Once a business discussion is opened (aka. an agent makes a full/partial request to review) then attachments are an absolute norm in any industry, let alone in publishing.

I think it's your assumption that someone in publishing who has a success doesn't then need to work to further that success that bothers me so much. There are multiple members of this community who are published, sometimes half a dozen times over, and then need to go out and begin querying all over again because their agent dies/leaves the business/relationship turns sour. I really don't believe that the QueryTracker forums are an echo chamber where we are all just repeating the same information over and over - we do our research too, we follow/listen to agents on social media, podcasts, at conventions and writing classes and on and on. We update our thinking, and share new sources and new ideas, and we celebrate our community member successes. When many of us critique, we critique hard because we know that's what is needed.

And when we see someone being a toolbag, we tell them. So please, if you want to join the community, get rid of the chip on your shoulder and work with people instead of trying to belittle the help and knowledge they have offered for years and which has led to the success of others.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2018, 11:33:56 PM by GVonCarstein » Logged
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« Reply #21 on: January 26, 2018, 08:35:11 PM »

But he didn't get that. He got one-size-fits-all, and then an argument because a mere-wannabe had the gall to disagree with "experts."

You are experts. But, that does NOT mean you've been keeping up with the changes in what agents want in 2018. You've got no need to keep up, so why would you?

I have, so why wouldn't I?

My goal is to not have to keep up. I will pray for the humility to not consider myself an expert on what agents want after that. Because one thing for sure, this field is changing constantly.

There is so much wrong with your post (much of it pointed out by GVon), but Sarah and gckatz are not the only ones who called you on your stuff. I, someone who was literally querying up to an offer recently, told you that your information was false based on my recent experience with critiques and querying. The field is changing, sure, but not that much. I queried my first book in 2015 and started queried my most recent book in 2017. The field was pretty much the same.
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Sarah Ahiers (Falen)
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« Reply #22 on: January 29, 2018, 08:06:45 AM »


This is the point. You gave four links. The first one said the same thing I said. (If you don't have writing creds, tell a bit about yourself that connects with the agent.)

Actually the post said the opposite of what you said.

Because what you said was this:

They do not want to know we're members of writing guilds. All that tells them is we haven't published yet. Instead, they want some info about us, if we are new.

And what that post said was this:

Quote
If you're a member of a professional writing organization, such as SCBWI or SFWA or the Historical Novels Society or RWA, tell me that in the bio. Note that not all of these organizations require you to be published before becoming a member, so it can be a good way to underscore your ambition and your sincerity, as well as your professional commitment.

Do you see now why I had an issue with the advice you were giving? It is advice that is counter to everything agents and publishing professionals say.

And you say your advice is backed up with proof, but can't provide any.

And the last query I sent for myself was in 2014. But the last querying and agent research I did was last week, when I helped a writer I'm mentoring build her query list. Not that that matters. I could have never sent a query in my life, but your advice would still not be right because it doesn't have anything backing it up.
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atwhatcost
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« Reply #23 on: February 02, 2018, 07:37:01 AM »

My goal is to not have to keep up. I will pray for the humility to not consider myself an expert on what agents want after that. Because one thing for sure, this field is changing constantly.

I hope for your sake that you aren't so aggressively argumentative if you ever do get 'the call' after querying. Discussion and debate are fine, but these posts are laced with a heavy 'chip on your shoulder' mentality. The high majority of people coming to these boards are here for learning and sharing, which has led to a collective knowledge base that is quite literally years in the making. Yes, things change in the industry, but things don't change so fast that it is impossible to keep up.

You presented a different concept than the collective knowledge suggested and were asked to show where you got the information. Becoming defensive and challenging people for a reason to request sources, bemoaning the amount of work you have put in to research and so on all suggest a deep frustration with the process you have undertaken. And this all in the name of arguing over what amounts to a minute point in a query letter which would be absolutely subjective to the individual agent.

Some will see it as a boon, some won't care. It's very unlikely an agent with any sort of positive reputation would take membership like this in a bad way.


And just to address some of your other points of change in the industry, advances have a wide range dependent on size of publisher, type of publisher, genre, author name recognition, diversity of author, and on and on. There is no standard, and rightly shouldn't be. Without any aggregate data on the range of your sources, I have no way of understanding what '$700 average' actually is because that number could take into account vanity presses, anthology submissions and other credited publishing methods that do not pay out the same as a Big 5 or even a Medium publishing house can.

Cost of printing is totally subjective to your area and the method used.

An agent/agencies acceptance of attachments even back in 2011 was not as clearly defined as you seem to think. Most continue to not want attachments in queries for three reasons: computer viruses, clogging up their computer, and most importantly for legal purposes. Many people out there do not read query guidelines, and so deleting attachment-based ones is an easy filter to weed out the same sorts of people who think that because they sent an agent their manuscript about vampires, and then that agent sells a book about vampires for a big publishing deal from another author, that the agent probably stole their MS/Idea. Frivolous lawsuit follows. Once a business discussion is opened (aka. an agent makes a full/partial request to review) then attachments are an absolute norm in any industry, let alone in publishing.

I think it's your assumption that someone in publishing who has a success doesn't then need to work to further that success that bothers me so much. There are multiple members of this community who are published, sometimes half a dozen times over, and then need to go out and begin querying all over again because their agent dies/leaves the business/relationship turns sour. I really don't believe that the QueryTracker forums are an echo chamber where we are all just repeating the same information over and over - we do our research too, we follow/listen to agents on social media, podcasts, at conventions and writing classes and on and on. We update our thinking, and share new sources and new ideas, and we celebrate our community member successes. When many of us critique, we critique hard because we know that's what is needed.

And when we see someone being a toolbag, we tell them. So please, if you want to join the community, get rid of the chip on your shoulder and work with people instead of trying to belittle the help and knowledge they have offered for years and which has led to the success of others.
Funny. I would think this post belongs more to Mooky. KKK? Really?

This is what Jack originally asked.

Hello.

I've heard that when writing and including a brief author bio within the query letter that you should simply list any professional writing organizations you belong to if you don't yet have any credits. I don't yet have any credits, as I am presenting my first pb manuscript. With that said, the agent I am most interested in working with has a background that is somewhat similar to mine and I am contemplating whether or not it would be in my best interest to play to that knowledge and shared background within my query...

He got answers before me, but the tone changed after I wrote this.

I'm trying to get representation for an MG, (middle-graders.) We're both working with agents that want children's books, and when I've investigated agents, I've found they seem different than the agents doing mainstream/books for grownups.

They do not want to know we're members of writing guilds. All that tells them is we haven't published yet. Instead, they want some info about us, if we are new.

You have something in common with this agent? Tell! Seriously tell that! Because what they really want to know is is this person the kind of person I can work with? And since you have something in common, that really does nudge the agent in your direction. True, if the rest of the query doesn't do it for him, the bio won't change his mind, but if he's on the edge, why not?

To this.

They do not want to know we're members of writing guilds. All that tells them is we haven't published yet.

What? Plenty of published authors are members of SCBWI, RWA, etc. I mean, you can't even be a member of SFWA unless you ARE published. There's a whole wing of SCBWI that's for published authors. Hence, the Crystal Kite award.

Mentioning that you're a member of SCBWI, etc, doesn't tell an agent you're unpublished. It tells an agent that you're serious about your goal of being published.

And then suddenly, we're back to which guilds are good, IF you're published.

Nothing had to be proven until I spoke up.

Honestly, I didn't think I had to prove my case, because Jack had the same QT list of agents who do children's books that I had, so he already investigated. He saw the same thing I saw.

No one paid attention to the fact he was unpublished too, after that. Too busy snubbing me for suggesting something to another unpublished writer.

You're right. I shouldn't be this aggressive if I get The Call. I won't be, unless it becomes a conference call with several agents vying for my steamy romance.
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Sarah Ahiers (Falen)
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« Reply #24 on: February 02, 2018, 08:10:40 AM »

Nothing had to be proven until I spoke up.

Right. Because you were the first person who gave out wrong information. Then, when you doubled down, we did offer proof. You are still the only one who hasn't.

Honestly, I didn't think I had to prove my case, because Jack had the same QT list of agents who do children's books that I had, so he already investigated. He saw the same thing I saw.

MG and PB agents are very different just like MG and PBs are very different. You're making an assumption that he's looking at the same agents when I actually doubt that's the case because PBs are the hardest kidlit category to break into, and a lot of kidlit agents don't do PBs. Kidlit is an umbrella term, yes, but that doesn't mean that all kidlit agents do all of kidlit. An example: my agent did MG and YA, but she doesn't do PB.

You're right. I shouldn't be this aggressive if I get The Call. I won't be, unless it becomes a conference call with several agents vying for my steamy romance.

I hope you're joking but if not, you know that's not how it works, right? Agents don't do conference calls like that.
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GVonCarstein
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« Reply #25 on: February 02, 2018, 01:06:40 PM »

Funny. I would think this post belongs more to Mooky. KKK? Really?

It's almost as if members of the community have a similar opinion on what you're saying and how you say it.
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