Perhaps you have 25 published articles in a gardening magazine and you are submitting a romantic paranormal YA thriller. Maybe you’ve never published anything in your life, but have been writing stories since you’re 6. It could be that you’ve self-published a previous novel in the same genre for which you are querying. Perchance this is the very first thing you’ve ever written, you’ve never taken a class, attended a conference, or had anything published anywhere ever. So WHAT should you put in the bio of your query letter?
This is what I like to know:
If you have a degree related to writing, or in the field in which you are writing, include that information. If your job relates to your manuscript or writing, tell me about it. If you are previously published through traditional channels, let me know the what, when, and with whom of it. If you are self-published, let me know about it, and include how successful/unsuccessful that’s been (i.e. number of copies sold). If you’ve had stories published in magazines, journals or online sites, let me know about that, even if it was a long time ago. You don’t have to list everything, but you should mention that it’s happened. If you are a member of any writing organizations (SCBWI, RWA, SFWA, etc…) please let me know. And if you attend any kind of writing conferences, let me know that, too. If you’ve won awards for any of your writing, even if it’s in an unrelated field, tell me (but if it’s in an unrelated field, don’t go into detail, please).
So what do you do if you don’t have any of the above? Just tell me! For example, “I work in the beauty industry, have a degree in Sociology, and THE TEENAGE SUPERHERO LOVER ESCAPADE is my first manuscript.”
Please don’t tell me you’ve been writing since you were 6 or that all your friends and family say you are the next Harper Lee/John Irving/Stephen King/Barbara Kingsolver. Just about everyone who queries me has “wanted to be a writer” for a very long time (or only since yesterday). It doesn’t make a difference or really mean anything. And the opinion of your family and friends (or even your critique group) is also kind of meaningless. I mean, if Harper Lee, John Irving, Stephen King or Barbara Kingsolver have read your work and given you a blurb, you can certainly mention that. Otherwise, just leave that stuff out.