Saturday, January 31, 2009

Something VERY smart writers do

One of my favorite editors dropped me a quick email today to ask for more info about the author of a book of mine he's considering

I had a couple lines on file from the query letter, but nothing really zippy and exciting.

What to do?

Well, I knew the author had a bio listed at her work website. I clicked over. It was fun, vivacious, not silly. I copied and pasted, and sent.

Start to finish: about 120 seconds.

This client was proactive in the best possible way. I didn't have to email her to say "quick, I need a bio!"

She doesn't have a website cause she's not yet published, but that's one of the best things to have on your website, published or not. A short bio, a longer bio, and links to things that are helpful for finding out more about you.

I've realized that most conferences now don't even ask me for a bio, they just cut and paste the one on my website.

That means you keep your bio updated too (I learned that one the hard way!)

A website is a wardrobe of information about you and your book! Keep it brushed up!


Whirlochre said...

Thanks for this. With synopses, queries, revisions, edits etc all competing for attention like wolverines in a trunk, bios can often be overlooked.

Debs said...

Thanks for the advice, I'll go and update my blog/website right now.

Heidi the Hick said...

So it is good to have a website ready to go even when in the query process?

And furthermore, would this web address be something to include in the query letter?

beth said...

Could you give us some examples of good author websites--especially some from unpubbed writers that really stand out? There are so many out's hard to tell what's good and what's not needed.

L.C. Gant said...

Wow, thanks for the great insight! The more I read about the industry, the more I realize the importance of putting yourself out there in the smartest, most professional way possible. The benefits are practically endless.

Margaret Yang said...

Wow, I wonder what things would be helpful on a bio, and what what would not? My webpage bio is very...basic. I think I have some work to do.

kyler said...

You always have something inspirational to say. Thanks for the bio reminder. I've just added it to my website, long overdue.

PurpleClover said...

Question (in line with Heidi's question):

Would it ever be appropriate to include a blog/website link in a query letter (to give an agent a feel for your style/personality) or is that unprofessional and tacky?

SundaySoup said...

Hi Janet,
Thanks. I have a long, fun bio with pics on my site, but I just updated it with a link to a Very Short Bio, Medium Bio, and Author Pic right at the top. I'll let my agent know it's there too. Thanks for the tip.

If any of you who asked about having a website/blog are reading the comments, I have this to say. I got my site a full year before I ever landed an agent because Miss Snark said it was a good idea. All the agents (and I had several offers at once) went to my site before offering and when my agent sold my book, my new editor had already been there before we "met" too. It's a good idea. I put my URL in my letterhead when I was querying so it was there, but not like "please, please go to my site and see that you want to rep me because I'm so cool and I'm begging you to..." etc. And I have it as a signature line on all emails. Just provide the info, but don't make a big deal out of it is my take on it. I do think that having a great site (someone else built it so I'm not bragging) helped. Of course, as Janet says, it's the WRITING in the end, but you can never be too prepared either.


Joyce said...

Thanks for the reminder, Janet. I just updated mine.

I agree with Joelle. Be prepared. Since authors these days have to do much of their own marketing, why not get a bit of a head start?

Kwana said...

Thanks for the tip.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Heidi and Purple clover,

My blog is mentioned in my query letter, mainly because it is designed specifically for my target audience (YA). Included on the blog is a blurb about my book and the first two pages. I recently mentioned this to an agent in the query letter because she didn't ask for sample pages, and ended up with a request for a full less than two hours later.

I don't know if that helps you, and I'm sure most agents don't bother to check out my blog (photography tips for teens), but you never know.

nightsmusic said...

I think that can be a tough call though. It worked for you and that's great, but I see a lot of agent do's and don't's who say "don't put it there". You don't want to turn an agent off to you, but then again, you want them to be able to find your presence on the web *if* they go looking. And if they do, it's better to have the address there, yes?


Anonymous said...

Good to know.

Stina Lindenblatt said...


I've seen those lists as well. The big thing is don't make it a link, because they don't know what it's link to.

Sunday Soup had a good suggestion. Just add it under your name and e-mail address.

It also depends what your blog is about. The October 2008 issue of Writer's Digest had some great info on this topic. In a way, mine is a marketing tool, because it includes photos of teenage girls (their parents gave permission first). These girls naturally told their friends about the site. I'll also be using it as a teaching tool for a couple of girl guide troops interested in obtaining their photography badge. But if you're designing a blog/website that isn't meant specifically for your target audience, then an agent might not care. Hope that makes sense.

Anita said...

If you're looking for an example bio, check out David Baldacci's website. Not only does he have a bio (follow the About David page), he also has introduction copy (to use if you're introducing him at an event).

SundaySoup said...

Stina wrote: But if you're designing a blog/website that isn't meant specifically for your target audience, then an agent might not care.

I guess I should've mentioned that I write a lot of nonfiction articles about writing for magazines and also I keep a blog about YA books, so it makes sense to keep my URL in my letterhead (at least to me). I actually never saw anyone say not to include it, but that doesn't mean it's not true. I just never came across it. Good to point it out for others to watch for, I guess.


PurpleClover said...

Thanks so much! That does help everyone that commented on the blog/url in the query. I never included mine (mainly because it's not ALL about writing) but maybe it wouldn't hurt since I mainly focus on writing and current events and philosophical questions (like: Can I be a Writer if I don't LOVE Cats? hehe)

Anyhow, much is appreciated!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I've never seen it mentioned, either, about not including your website in the query. It's just linking it is a problem. There's a very good reason for that, I just can't remember what it is. Something about illegal schemes or virus, or both.

I think the issue about including your blog had to do with claiming it was published material. There's a big difference between writing articles on your blog and having articles or short stories published in magazines or journals.

Again, Sunday Soup suggestion is a good one.

Silicon Valley Diva said...

I have FOUND great writers stumbling across blogs and websites. In fact, I recently purchased a book just by clicking onto that person's link.

When I reach that stage (a long way off since I'm new to all of this) I plan on honing a website and keeping it short and (hopefully) easy to navigate.