L'Arc(hery) de Triomphe

Most Enlightened Miss Snark,

You told a fellow Snarkling that her long-bow hobby was interesting, helped you get an idea of who she was. Were you being tongue-in-cheek about including that in the bio? (no) I've heard you say a lot more frequently that publishing creds were all that mattered. Surely this would be a topic to come up later?

I ask because I'm tempted to include cross-cultural experience (which is part of my novel's premise) in my bio, but have essentially written it off as fool's gold.

Unless your cross cultural experience includes mastery of 14th Century weaponry I've failed to be clear.

Publishing credits are more persuasive to me than long bows. However, if you don't have much in the way of previously published work, it won't hurt to tell me one or two INTERESTING things. Interesting is hard to define however, things that are NOT interesting include but are not limited to:

your loinfruit;
pets (including and especially poodles cause you think it's persuasive);
college degrees, particularly if you feel the need to mention where you did your undergraduate work;
marital status and duration;
geographical residence;
career path;
fondest hopes for changing career to "published writer";
past lives.

Your mileage WILL vary on this one. Keep it short.


Anonymous said...

Makes sense.
Thank you for clarifying. I'm handspinning wool right now to prove accomplishment in the archaic, and...
Does Grandmother Snark knit or crochet? I'll dye it KY's favorite color for a new winter tam, if she does.

Kat said...

Hah! I usually do mention both my degree and geographical location, but mostly by way of contrast (eg. "I majored in English and spent the past five years knocking around New Zealand, Britain, and Canada, but nowadays I work on my family farm in rural Virginia because the food is better here.") I tend to only include this kind of thing when the agent specifically asks for biographical information. At that point I figure it's my own damn funeral *not* to include it and even dry stuff like this is better that "I'm rather boring," which I have seen people put in query letters on some of my crit groups.

Virginia Miss said...

This topic is one I've seen disagreement on. Some agents have said in their blogs, interviews, or books that they don't mind a mention of college degrees or place of residence, while others -- like Miss Snark -- don't want to know.

However, all agree they don't care about kids and spouses :)

Inkwolf said...

Awww, you don't wanna hear about my past life? But it was such a good one!

Mindy Tarquini said...

I haven't mastered the longbow, but I did learn to skip a rock last weekend.

Does hand-kneading pizza dough count as an archaic accomplishment?

GutterBall said...

Does hand-kneading pizza dough count as an archaic accomplishment?

I hope so. If it is, I am so in!

writtenwyrdd said...

I wonder if mentioning anything as extreme as "I am high priestess of a satanic coven" or similar would be a bad thing??? Hmmm...

Anonymous said...

Not if you're living around here. That would rate more on the daring new-fangled deviltry list.
Skipping rocks, now. That's prime. Can you witch up some brew for the lumbago, too?
Some of us are wasted on the Information Age...

poezy said...

There goes my bio right out the window. Poezy

Anonymous said...

I ran my query letter by a friend of mine who used to be an agent, and she thought I should mention my degrees AND mention that I was currently teaching college English, even though I'm not a "real" (tenure-track) professor. My book is fiction, so none of that is directly relevant (i.e., it's not a "platform"), but she seemed to feel I needed it to give myself legitimacy. She was oriented toward literary fiction, so that may have something to do with it.

I have stopped mentioning my teaching and kept the list of degrees, but now I think about it, it's kind of pretentious and irrelevant (many Ph.Ds are awful writers), so I may axe it. I've heard it said that in general, a Ph.D is poison on nonacademic resumes... to such a degree that it's preferable to say one spent those eight years in prison!

poezy said...

Well,oh pail-of-gin drinker, there goes my bio right out the window.

Dave Kuzminski said...

Problem is, if you've been involved with too many activities and list them, your bio could look fake or contrived at best even if every word is true and not exaggerated at all so some caution is definitely advised in what might be listed.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Those things on your list of the fatally unintersting? Who says they aren't vital to a query letter:

Dear Miss Snark:

I'm seeking representation for my non-fiction book, Butter-Fly Wings: A Biographical History of Tanath's Daughters. A detailed outline is enclosed.

I am an expert in the field, and the only pixie graduate of the College of Fairy Arts. I've also attended Trinity College though I was blended into total invisibility and received no degree from them because of the irregularity of my form. It's hard to give credit to an invisible being.

I'm the foster parent to six of the dragons of Tantor. They're a lot like big puppies, but they don't paper train. That's probably good since paper in the Pixie Home Forest is used for things other than dragon poo.

I'm newly married. I carried off my man ten years ago. We reside in the Home Forest. My husband, James, is one of three males who make their home among us. We usually leave our mates in their more natural settings. It's better for their sanity if we do that. So far we average a pixielette every year. Making babies if fun, and quite a hobby of ours. We're really quite good at it.

As I said, we reside mostly in the Pixie Home Forest. Every pixie knows where that is. Just ask one. It's an excellent place in which to raise children. Littering it not allowed.

I'm next in line to be pixie high queen. Since mother is very young, not even 1000 years old yet, that's a ways off, and I don't think much about it. I only mention it to you so you know my well being doesn't depend on being published, and I promise not to bite you if you decline representation. Being a published writer is not my fondest hope. My fondest hope is actually a pixie state secret, but I can say it relates to the hobby I share with my husband which I've already mentioned. However, being published is probably my third fondest hope.

Pixies are allotted only one life. It tends to be a long one unless they get eaten or something like that. We used to fear enslavement by wicked fairies, but since I sent parts of T'al, the last Fairy King, to different dimensions, I'm pretty much in charge over there in the fairy realm. They're actually quite handsome for creatures descended from snakes and demons, if you like that sort of thing.

Back to my book: May I please send you my 780,000 word biographical history, The Daughters of Tanath. I tell it all, even giving the full details about that unfortunate wound to Basarith's butt. I tell the real story of how she got it. I wheedled it out of her daughter. It was hard to do, mostly because she lives in seclusion in a naturally heated cave two-thirds up the north side of K-12. She says the quiet is good for her nerves, but we've become good friends and I visit her often.

Best regards,


Anonymous said...

Also don't bother putting in:

-one's astrological sign,

-how HARD it was to write,

-religious, gender, ethinic, and/or political preference,

-that you've already found the PERFECT cover artist,

-that your mom/writing group LOVES the book,

-you've five prequels to it under the bed,

-pictures of the agent's house/family accompanied with anything that reads like "represent this book or else."

Anonymous said...

But wait. Wait! I don't do archery. My passion is stalking agents. I clog P.O. boxes and attend every "pitch an agent" session. I am healthy, right? Normal people thrive on rejection, right? And now you say I shouldn't include this in my querry? Are you nuts? It's who I am. I am a writer.

Am I healthy?

Kim Rossi Stagliano said...

I mention my loin fruit in my query only in that my MS has an autism backstory and my 3 girls have autism. Kinda makes me an expert. I have 243,360 cumulative hours logged in the autism world as their Mom. I hear the pay as a writer is only marginally better....

Molly said...

Possibly nitwittish question about mentioning one's undergraduate work: I understand that no one gives two damns where it was done, but what if the degree is in something unusual (i.e., an independent self-designed major) that's actually related to the subject of the book?

(Medieval studies and archaeology, in the remote case that anyone was wondering.)