Querying Tip: Include an Author Bio

Writers spend so much time worrying about the “biography” part of a query when it is truly the most simple part of drafting a query letter. If there is a problem with an author’s bio in a query letter, the issue is usually based on one of these three things: the bio doesn’t include the necessary information, the bio contains too much information, or the bio isn’t there at all. Too much information makes your query unnecessarily long; an agent doesn’t need to know your mother’s name (unless your mother is Beyoncé). Too little information makes it more difficult for an agent to contact you (and you want to make it as easy as possible for him/her to request your manuscript). Here are a few things to consider while writing your bio:

Mention past publishing experience. If you have published a book before (either traditionally or self-published), include this in your bio. An agent will eventually find out about your past work and it’s best to be honest from the start. If you’ve had articles, short fiction, poems, etc. published elsewhere, you may want to include those in your bio too. However, it’s okay if you haven’t published before. You don’t have to make excuses—you can omit this part from your bio altogether.

Show off a little personality. Do you have experience that relates to the book you’re querying? Do you have an interesting hobby? Do you have one million Twitter followers? You can choose to put these random tidbits in your bio (and your platform is especially important if you’re querying a nonfiction project). Don’t take the time to explain your life story, but you can add an interesting sentence or two so that you sound like a real person. After all, this is your first formal introduction to the agent. Queries can be monotonous, so standing out from the crowd is a good thing.

Don’t forget your contact information. Always include your name and email address at the end of a query letter so the agent knows exactly how to address you and where to reach you. A phone number and the city you live in are also options. Include links to your social media profiles or author website/blog if you have them. Make it as easy as possible for the agent to contact you and to find you online.

There’s no strict formula to writing a bio for your query letter. Everyone has a different writing background, so you need to choose the elements that best show off your personality and experience. Past publications, your contact information, and a tiny glimpse at your personality are common elements in a query letter bio. As long as you include some type of bio (even if it’s short)—don’t skip it altogether—and you don’t make anything up, you’re going to do just fine. Remember that the focus of your query letter should be on pitching your manuscript. Your writing is much more important than your hometown.