3.26.2006

But enough about me...

Miss Snark.

I recently wrapped up production on my first 'oeuvre de yum yum' and have been consuming your spoonfuls of Snarklicious consomme with a great deal of slurping and chin wiping. I also have partaken of several nuggets of lightly breaded submission guidelines from various agent websites, and here's where something got stuck between my teeth, leading me to seek the benefit of your Snisdom.

Many agents, it seems, request a brief bio as part of the query letter; and most that do specify that it should include the history of your writing wonderfulness. What if you have no such history? Is it better to not include a bio at all or should you still put a couple of sentences in telling them who you are, where you're from and that you once met the lead singer of Megadeth?

Any toothpick shaped advice you can give me would be very much appreciated. I'll set aside an escargot for KY.


KY is not sure about this escargot thing. While Miss Snark is fond of snail mail, KY's preference is to bite the snailmailman and slurp up soupcon de chat.

Alors, back to the topic du jour.

If an agent asks for a bio, what they really want to to know is stuff that will help them sell your piece de resistence. That's why they ask about writing credentials. It doesn't hurt to mention you were the lead singer of Megadeth or George Clooney's love toy, but unless it's gonna sell your book, I'm not interested. People tell me they are retired accountants, nurses, undertakers and the like. Ho hum. Now, a retired hitman, or spy..that I'd be interested in. People tell me which university they attended (the pathetic ones mention their gpa). The true straw graspers tell me they are big readers.

If you don't have stuff for a bio, it's ok to say nothing. In fact, if you're unsure whether to include a particular fact, look at ten author bios on books you love and see if something akin to it is is listed. If it is, go for it. If not, leave it off.

And for heaven's sake, if you have a website in your bio, clean it up before you start sending query letters out.

7 comments:

McKoala said...

I'd imagine that if anyone dared to tell you in their bio that they were George Clooney's love toy, then they would have to be wary of a stiletto through the heart.

Mags said...

I've seen agents recommend saying (briefly) what you do for a day job, to let them know you HAVE a day job and are therefore not depending on the sale of your magnum opus for rent money.

Dana Y. T. Lin said...

Or, if you know Mr. Clooney and you have the power to set him up on a blind date with the MS, then I'd definitely mention that... you'd probably not only get a request for full, but the great MS might just show up at your doorstep!

Nightfahl said...

...now I'm hungry. :-/

Anonymous said...

Mags, why on earth would an agent want to be sure that you have a day job? So long as you're not hittin' them for a loan to tide you over the rent shortfall, it's none of their damned business!

Greta LaGarbeaux said...

I don't think the day job thing is so much about whether you're self-supporting, but it can (a) be interesting (Nuclear physicist writing erotic? Cool!) or (b) suggest that you are a person of substance whose writing will be informed by sophistication, maturity and/or life experience.

Mags said...

Hey Anon--

I read that somewhere but can't remember where. I think it was from an agent or a published writer. Might have been on Absolute Write. The idea was that a writer with a day job presumably wouldn't be desperate for money and calling the agent every half hour, "Did you read it yet? Did you sell it yet? Huh? Huh? Huh? I need to buy food/pay the rent/buy kibble for the dog."

I'm sure Miss Snark can verify that there are some writers with, shall we say, unreasonable expectations of immediate fame and wealth as soon as they send off their MS. Again, presumably, a writer with a day job might have slightly unreasonable expectations but at least can keep body and soul together while waiting for the big sale.