Monday, April 26, 2021

All resume, no writing

I've had a recent batch of queries that begin with the author's bona fides.

Degrees in something.

Published papers in their field. 

Links to previously published books.

All well and good except they're querying a novel.

Who you are or what you've done doesn't matter so much as the story you want me to read.

Start with that.

Your bio comes at the end of the query, and it's more important to sound like someone I want to work with than someone who assures me they're important enough to consider.

Your dogs and cats (bunnies and raccoons, gators, snakes and of course your plants) will get you further in your bio than almost anything else.

Any questions?


KMK said...

I love this post! It reminds me of a colleague of mine who is rightly called a broadcast legend. In the newsroom, he's usually sitting quietly at his desk, wearing a ballcap and reading the paper, and more likely to talk about his beloved dog than anything else. Until the mic opens and the Voice of God comes out. The work speaks for itself, and he knows it.

french sojourn said...

If you only knew our dogs and cats!

Kregger said...

My dog is in Stephen King's Pet Semetary, and he doesn't get around much these days...does that count?

Steve Forti said...

How many agents would be drawn to "most time spend in Carkoon", or other such accolades?

NLiu said...

Degrees "in something"! Ha! (Because degrees are so relevant to novels. Fictional. Made up. Novels.)

I wish I had a degree in dragon-wrangling or advanced hex-casting. Alas for real life!

Mister Furkles said...

I am concerned, Janet, that you are slighting bunnies and raccoons. Our bunnies are first rate and, Bandit, our rescue raccoon has already suffered enough slights for one lifetime.

Janet Reid said...

Mister Furkles
point taken.
Blog updated.

John Davis Frain said...

Dogs and gators and snakes are good audiences for when you want to read your ms aloud. So are goldfish. Cats and bunnies, not so much. I've never read to a raccoon, so I can't comment.

Plants make a lovely audience, naturally (<<-- see what I did there). It's amazing what a plant can help you discover in your dialogue when you read it aloud.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Frankie, the pug, approves of this post so much.

I am feeling spoiled. Such frequent posts of late. I love that.

Katja said...

Yikes, I don't have a pet. And I don't have plants (nor a green finger). I am doomed.

At least I now have the answer for all past and perhaps future rejections.

I do have the name(s) for my future dog, though. Maybe it would be just about enough...

Julie Weathers said...

Removes former owner of a three-legged terrapin named Tripod from bio and tries to think of something interesting to put in there at the proper location.

I hate writing bios. Almost as much as writing a synopsis.

Craig F said...

When I get a short story about Harry Potter, the gopher tortoise that lives in my yard, published, I will be sure to make a bio for it.

Until then I will muddle along with an invisible bio.

KDJames said...

These past few posts made me remember my very first attempt at a query. So long ago. The entire thing was cringe-worthy, including the fact that I hadn't even finished writing the story. Thank all the gods, I never sent it to anyone. It had not one, not two, but THREE rhetorical questions: "What if, 50 years ago, [certain people] attempted to [do impossible/outrageous thing]? What if they succeeded? And no one noticed?" And then I believe I went on and on about what motivated me to write the darn thing. Nothing about the story itself, let alone my pets. I thought it was an *amazing* query.

I'm so grateful for the internet and agents like Janet who are willing to hold/slap our hands and explain how to, and how not to, approach stuff like this. Not that I can write a compelling query now, but at least I know what not to do.

In completely off-topic news, I have accomplished the move to a new home with only minor scrapes and bruises and loss of brain cells. I'm exhausted and feel destined to live forever surrounded by cardboard moving boxes. But I did find my printer cord today. And the printer still works! I am celebrating ALL the accomplishments.

I'm scheduled to get my 2nd shot Saturday and won't be surprised at all if there are spontaneous tears of joy and relief. Similar to what happened after the 1st one. Hope you all are well and taking care of yourselves.

AJ Blythe said...

Okay, so not related to topic except for puppy...Our 4 month old furball obviously found something really yummy to eat in the yard this morning. He came inside very happy with himself. Not long after poo-nami ensued. I spent most of the day cleaning up said poo-nami.(Seriously, how does a 4 month old puppy cause so much destruction to walls and windows - yep, you read that right, windows).

I could attach him to my query, Janet. Would that work ;)

Kitty said...

Julie Weathers … Your mention of terrapin reminded me of a Miss Snark contest fifteen years ago (!).

EMAIL me up to 500 words (!!) that form a coherent narrative.
will of the wisp

drop everything and give me ten...books
your mother wears Army boots
promenading poodles
roar of the greasepaint, smell of the crowd
Bat Segundo

I didn’t win, but the story idea it fostered had me writing and rewriting for years. I tried, but I finally conceded 500 words just wouldn’t tell the story. I ended up with a story I loved running about 1,100 words. 500 words. Wow, those were the days.