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The Perfect Writer Biography for a Query

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Resume

Your Resume. Be sure to attach it to your query.

 

Last week I promised the perfect biography paragraph for a query that’d incorporate the ten best things to mention about yourself in your query. I couldn’t forget the most important part of the perfect query formula, either. Well, after much editing and pizazz-ing, here you are:

My name is Jessica Lei. I turned 22 several days ago–can’t believe you missed my birthday, but I’ll forgive you. When you’re my agent, I won’t be so nice. I started writing when I was 12. I posted my work at an online community and received a lot of attention. I never finished any of it, though, but it was just kiddy stuff anyway. I’ve been writing since then but I’ve never been published. That’s probably because I haven’t tried yet. The novel I’m pitching to you now took me a month to write. Another one took me a month and a half. The one I’m working on now, the sequel to this book I’m querying you about, should be done in a week. Let me know if you want to read that, too.

I graduated high school three years ago. I’m currently attending a private university in Seattle, Washington. My book takes place in the Pacific Northwest so I know all about it and I can portray it accurately, unlike other famous authors who’ve placed their book here and didn’t actually visit until after they made a lot of money. Whatever! I’ll be graduating with a psychology major and an English minor this spring. Exciting, right? After I get out of this hellhole, I can write books a lot faster. I can make you a lot of money, I promise.

I researched a lot about my book. It’s set all over the world so I looked up pictures on Google and researched on Wikipedia. I’ve also been e-stalking you for the past few months. I know a lot about you and I’m querying you because I know you’d be my perfect agent. I also know all about your agency and your preferences, and how you’d like your submissions. I’ve included all the materials you asked for, and a bit more just in case. I like to cover my bases. This way I can assure you I’ve done my research and I’m qualified to write a book.

I’m not published or self-published or e-published. I have a blog where I’ve posted at least 15 articles on querying and getting published and writing a bestseller. I wrote several essays while I’ve been in college. My most recent was a reflection essay on substance abuse. Before that, I wrote about Shelley’s Frankenstein and Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, the ethics of child electroconvulsive therapy, women in Buddhist films, a research project on the effects of children on the emotion regulation of college students, and a literature review on single parenthood. I do not keep a diary, but my blog is located here: http://jddeshaw.wordpress.com. I’ve attached it all to this e-mail, including all of my blog entries, if you’d like to take a look to verify my writing abilities.

I worked for Starbucks for over 3 years but I quit to start volunteering and interning at a local research university in Seattle. I’m currently interning for [researcher, redacted] at [university department]. I do a lot of data entry, organizing, literary searches, and tracking (a form of stalking). I’ve babysat and worked at daycares as well. So, on top of the whole high school thing, I can probably write MG as well as YA. I’ve asked previous teachers, bosses, professors, and friends to write me letters of recommendation. I have attached them for your perusal.

I look forward to hearing from you! Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Jessica Lei

Well, there you have it! In case you missed it, here’s the key take-away:

Make sure your author biography is longer than your book summary. You are more important than your book!

We’re also looking for a few queries to critique on the blog–no harsh words or biting criticism, we promise. We are not experts, but we have an opinion and sometimes that’s good enough. If you’re struggling and would like a friendly opinion, send it in! You can find our email on the Contact page.

Written by Jessica Lei

October 19, 2010 at 6:00 am

Posted in Humor, Queries

10 Things to Mention About Yourself in Your Query

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Who Are You?

Who Are You?

Often times I wonder why the bibliography paragraph of a query is even necessary. If I’m a psychopath but my story is absolutely addicting, would I still end up being represented? Reality is: probably not. So, the bibliography is necessary so your maybe-agents can see you’re both sane and qualified to write. Here’s what I suggest you include:

  1. Your age.
  2. The age you started writing at (the earlier, the better).
  3. The time it took you to write the novel.
  4. If you graduated high school.
  5. If you graduated from a technical or vocational school.
  6. If you graduated with any degrees from an undergraduate college or university.
  7. If you graduated with any degrees from a graduate college or university.
  8. If you researched extensively on everything pertaining to your book, yourself, the agent, how to write a query, and how to write a book.
  9. Your last 15 books (unpublished, self-published, or published), articles, essays, blog posts, and diary entries. Attach if necessary.
  10. Your resume, including all of your past job experience. Feel free to include a few recommendation letters. Attach if necessary.

A perfect biography paragraph for a query will be next week, so check back!

We’re also looking for a few queries to critique on the blog–no harsh words or biting criticism, we promise. We are not experts, but we have an opinion and sometimes that’s good enough. If you’re struggling and would like a friendly opinion, send it in! You can find our email on the Contact page.

Written by Jessica Lei

October 12, 2010 at 6:00 am

Posted in Humor, Queries

This Week’s Research

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Enough said.

Look out for future Friday Inspiration posts, because they’ll happen and you’ll be inspired. Starting next week!

Written by Jessica Lei

October 8, 2010 at 6:00 am

Posted in Humor

The Perfect Query

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As promised, here is the Perfect Query (PQ) for Query Tuesdays. If you don’t remember the formula, check back to last week’s post!

Without further ado:

Melinda Melin

Melinda Melin, The Five-Year-Old Vampire

Dear Mister Miss Agent,

Melinda Melin was five years old when a vampire saw her playing in the park on the swingset. The vampire was very thirsty and desperate, and Melinda’s blood was too sweet to pass up for the starving monster. Not only did the vampire take Melinda’s life and soul, it kidnapped her.

Sir Douglas Froyd is an ancient vampire, one of the very first vampires to ever exist. No, it wasn’t Dracula; the very first vampire was his older brother, Herald Froyd, who shared his discovery to his unknowing little brother. They were both turned and with their new abilities, started molding a dark and deadly world.

Five thousand years later, Douglas and Herald had a fight tried to kill each other. It could’ve been merely sibbling rivalry, but Douglas and Herald had both ruled the vampire world together–and not here wasn’t room enough for them both anymore. Douglas was thrown out of the vampire world and Herald ruled alone.

Over the next thousand years, Douglas hid from the vampires. He struggled day to day to simply survive in the shadows and on the blood of animals. Then he spotted her. A little girl with blood sweater than sugar. He had to take her, and he did.

He raised her to succeed him, because he could tell the vampire community was stirring. There was rebellion in the air and he wanted nothing to do with it–but the vampires wouldn’t care what he wanted. He shared all of his memories, and therefore himself, with the young girl. This way, he would continue to live within her and his brother, dead or alive, would never know the difference.

Five hundred years later, Melinda is still the vampire’s assistant. She goes out nightly and procures a new speciman for her vampire master. They drink together and then her master relives his days to her verbally. Then the unthinkable happens and he dies.

For a hundred years, Melinda doesn’t know what to do with her new freedom. She still looks five, but she’s over six hundred years old. She had thought her master was kind of like her father and now he’s dead. She continues her life as if he was still there, until a group of vampires come knocking at her door.

She answers sweetly but she knows that she can’t hide her master’s rotting body. The smell is too strong. Not only the decay, but his pure blood. They tell her that she became the successor to his legacy because he shared all of his memories with her; now his memories are hers, and he is living inside her.

MELINDA MELIN THE FIVE YEAR OLD VAMPIRE is a 160,000-word YA paranormal action adventure novel about a young girl who has to cope with growing up and maturing despite her young appearance. It also follows her as she takes on her late vampire master’s will and takes up a position in the vampire council. The book is mysterious and dangerous and shows a secret and hidden world where vampires are majestic and ruthless. It’s like The Da Vinci Code, The Golden Compass, and Twilight wrapped all into one. I could add wizards and it’d have a touch of Harry Potter in it too.

Melinda must be strong when she realizes the vampires aren’t really welcoming her into the council to play nice and fair. They’re actually waiting for her to make a mistake and kill her. They hated her master, and now they hate her.

What is she going to do?

I look forward to hearing your answer. This is my first novel. I’ve been writing stories since I learned how to type and I haven’t stopped since. I recently went on a road trip and found inspiration in Forks, WA and decided that I could try to get published. I hope you love this book as much as everyone else loved it!

Sincerely,
Melinda Melin

P.S. My cat died yesterday and I don’t think I can take a mean rejection, so I’m begging you to just give me good news. My father also owns a gun and we have your agency’s address. He doesn’t like seeing his princess cry!

Written by Jessica Lei

September 28, 2010 at 6:00 am

Posted in Humor, Queries

This Week’s Research

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Louis C.K. is hilarious and he’s totally right. Dan Krokos legitimately found this first–I should give credit where credit is due because it is so hard to find good entertainment on the Internets these days if you’re lazy like I am–but it’s too true. People these days are so unappreciative.

Remember when people had to mail in their queries and their sample pages? Now they complain when an agent hasn’t gotten back to them in a week. Well, just be happy they received your query almost instantly. AND YOU DIDN’T EVEN HAVE TO PAY FOR IT. Egads, what is this chaos! Free and fast?! The horror!

For the record, my mother thinks high speed internet is slow. It’s high speedHigh speed.

Written by Jessica Lei

September 24, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Posted in Humor, Research

The DOs and DON’Ts of Word Economy

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Money Tree

The Holy Money Tree

It is Thursday and that means a topic on writing! I’ve never never ever been so routinely in my entire life. Let’s see how it works (and pray that it does).

I picked up this term from literary agent Noah Lukeman while I read his free e-book on writing queries. It’s from 2005 but some of it still applies. Funny how things don’t change! (Yes. It’s sad.)

America’s economy may be going south, but your word economy can be going up!

DO:

Use three–or four–or five six seven EIGHT NINE TEN words, even if you only need one. Words are like money and the more you spend, the better things you will have!

DON’T:

Pare down. EVER! Never settle for less.

DO:

Write as much as you can in one day. Writing is a job and you’ll make more money if you write more in one day. If you can’t write over 5,000 words in a single sitting because other things get in the way: QUIT EVERYTHING ELSE. Your coffee, your work, your husband, and your kids. QUIT THEM.

DON’T:

Limit your writing time! Writers who only write for 30 minutes a day are weak. No one who succeeds only puts in 30 minutes a day!

DO:

Have a high word count. Bill Gates has how much money? You need that many words.

DON’T:

Go below 100,000 words. Words work like money! It’s a shame when you make less than $100,000 a year and it is therefore a travesty if your novel is less than that. For shame, for shame.

Now that you have these handy tips, start investing in your money economy! Make bank! Hurry!

Written by Jessica Lei

September 23, 2010 at 6:00 am

Posted in Humor, Writing

The Query Formula

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Tuesdays are for queries! Yes! A whole day for querying! Wait. NO! Just a post. Just one post is all I can handle. Queries scare me, just like cute five-year-old vampire girls. But that’s for next week.

Queries need to tell the story. It is supposed to, as the lovely Dictionary.com says, outline the proposed piece in letter format.

The Query Formula

  1. Back story. You have to reveal what went on before the story starts or people will be confused. If you skip out on back story, then the query will start at the beginning of your novel. No one does that in a query. That’s what you do in a synopsis.
  2. Summarize everything that happens before the conflict. That way, when the last line comes, they want to know what the conflict is so they’ll read your story. But do not reveal the actual conflict. Don’t reveal the stakes, either. The agent will want to read your story based on what they think the conflict will be–you see, they want to know if they’re right or not!
  3. Give the work’s title and word count. You might want to fib a bit on the word count because the more words you’ve written, the more impressive your work is. I suggest starting your query with this information or putting it right smack in the middle of the query so it stands out and creates flow.
  4. Describe the work’s genre with as many words as you can. Agents like cross-genre works and the more genres you tag onto your novel the more likely they’ll take it on.
  5. Close with a line about your credentials, as a person. This business is very personal, so you better be personal. Tell them about your family and friends and the hardships you went through as you wrote it. This agent needs to like you in order to represent you!
  6. Great formatting. Show some pizazz. Bolding, italicizing, and underlining are the best way to stand out. Strikethrough is rising in popularity, too!

Stay tuned next week for the Perfect Query (PQ).

Written by Jessica Lei

September 21, 2010 at 6:00 am

Posted in Humor, Queries

Lesson 11

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I came across a blog post earlier that outlined How to Succeed in Writing By Not Really Trying. There are, however, a vast amount of people who don’t know how to not try, so this is for you!

Lesson 11: How to Succeed in Writing By Trying Really Hard

1. Use really small words. Who needs big words? Then children can’t even read your book and you want children readers! Children are the future!

2. Write really big, long paragraphs. People respect authors whose paragraphs take up the whole page–or even two whole pages! I mean, really, we all know this is why Joseph Conrad is so genius even though he uses big words–and I already told you big words are a big no-no (sorry you didn’t get the memo, Joe).

3. Never describe the character’s personality. Let the dialogue do it all! Actually, don’t describe anything at all. People have imaginations, right? Let them imagine it all on their own! It’s a build-your-own-world story! That’s new and creative, right?

4. End your novel with the expected. My mom always tells me to give the readers what they want! If they think there’s going to be a happy ending then you better end it happily. Who cares if you don’t have any readers yet–your heart will tell you.

5. Give your characters common names. Jane and John Doe. Then they can imagine themselves as that character, or their best friend–or that sexy vampire in their dreams last night.

6. Never open your story with a dream. Open it your story with them waking up FROM the dream. Yes. We all start our days in the morning (or at least some of us do), so your book should start there, too!

7. Don’t even describe the setting. No one needs to know where they are. It’s fictional anyway. Or if you do decide to place it somewhere real (imagine that), make sure it’s absolutely nothing like the real place! Don’t even bother going there. Travel is for losers, and so is research. Published authors do not travel or research.

8. Use a lot of verbs. Forget ‘he said’ or ‘she asked.’ Everyone uses that. He shouted! She questio–no, she interrogated him! Use big bold verbs so adverbs are totally unnecessary. You may need to take out The Saurus for this!

9. Make sure your chapters are really long. Actually, make sure you have somewhere between one and three chapters total. Four is too many. Every chapter should have at least 100,000 words in it. Debut novels are supposed to be of epic proportions.

10. Make sure the title of your novel is never mentioned in your book. Ever! It’s supposed to be abstract! It’s not supposed to have anything to do with your novel; it is just a mere marketing ploy. Therefore, naming your book COFFEE or CUPCAKE is totally legit. Everyone loves cupcakes and coffee!

Now go out there, you try-hards, and get published!

Elena Solodow is the brilliant mind whose how-to article sparked a sudden witspriation for this post. Her talent, of course, reaches further than just advice on writing–she even talks about writer’s block or better known as, “The Block.” Her blog is titled You’re Write. Except when you’re Rong. Check her out!

Written by Jessica Lei

September 10, 2010 at 7:07 pm

Posted in Humor, Lessons, Writing

Lesson 4

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I like lists and I have now decided that lesson four should be that getting published is no different than any other goal. Have a plan. Know what you need to do to get it accomplished. This is our list! Yes, things are in order (somewhat).

1. Idea!

2. Motivation… or your idea will remain an idea.

3. Make a synopsis or summary of how your idea will play out in a book… or you’re going to flounder around as you write without a direction.

4. Write.

5. Write some more.

6. Write even more.

7. Revise.

8. Revise some more.

9. Revise even more.

10. Revise like your life depends on it — because it does.

11. Find a critique partner. Revise some more.

12. Revise even more.

13. Revise like your unborn children’s life depends on it — because it does.

14. Search for at least 40 agents to send your query to. Rank them in amount of awesomeness… and how much you’d like them to represent you.

15. Write your query letter.

16. Rewrite your query letter.

17. Rewrite your query letter again.

18. Rewrite your query letter again, this time using Google-fu to immaculately conceive it.

19. Get someone to critique your query letter.

20. Revise your query letter.

21. Send out a batch of queries to 5-7 agents. Pick a few from each of your lists of varying degrees of awesome.

22. Wait.

23. Wait some more. (You could write another book right here. Start at #1!)

55. Wait more.

56. If you were offered one of the following things, go to #870: a partial request, a full request, representation. If not, move to the next step.

80. Revise your query letter. Try it from another angle. Repeat steps #15-56 until you succeed or proceed to the next step.

81. Forget you ever wrote the book. It was a good experience. If you’re too discouraged to try again, stop now and don’t quit your day job. If you’re not discouraged, proceed to the next step.

90. Repeat steps 1-80 until an agent asks for a partial manuscript, a full manuscript, or representation. Proceed to #870.

150. Give up. This obviously isn’t working for you.

300. Rekindle your desire to write. Repeat steps 1-80.

500. Read: agent blogs, publisher blogs, insider news, other books. Bestsellers, nosellers, self-published, Hyperion-published, classics, books in the genre you are most interested in, books in a genre you despise, books in a genre you think you could benefit from. Read and learn.

688. Critique other people’s work. That is all. Read and learn.

800. Repeat steps 1-80.

870. You are on the right track! If an agent asked for a partial, go to #890. If an agent asked for a full manuscript (wow, you must be really good), go to #900. If an agent asks to represent you without even reading your book then you don’t need this list. Go to step #1001.

890. Your query worked! You have baited the unbaitable! Get a celebratory drink and then sober up really fast. Wait a few days — maybe a week (you may not want to follow this advice) — to see if another agent asks. Send out what they want. What do they want? They want your query again (so they know who you are — you aren’t that special yet that they would remember who you are), they want part of your manuscript (this is what they asked for, after all… and you want to give them this), and they want your professionalism. They also want your soul, but they will not ask for this just yet. They may also request other things of you, like a synopsis. Give them what they want!!!! Even if they would like you to hand-deliver them a turkey sandwich made in Barcelona, do it. If you are not sure what they want, at least send them your original query and your partial and then ask if they would like anything else. Be nice. Be courteous. Make sure your manuscript is formatted correctly if they accept attachments! If they do not accept attachments do not even attach your e-heart to it. You must woo them without them realizing this is what you are doing. Go to #1000 if you are asked for representation. Go to #900 if they ask for a full manuscript. Go to #909 if they deny you with a form rejection. Go to #919 if deny you with a personalized critique.

900. You are so amazing. Except you have to do the same thing as those who were requested only a partial in #890. Do what what is outlined in #890 :) except send your full manuscript, of course… but you knew that! You were smart enough to get this far, after all!

909. I’m sorry. Life is hard. This happens to a lot of people so do not fear. You must’ve done something right along the way. Go back to step #15 or #21! I have faith in you!

919. I’m sorry. Life is hard. This happens to a lot of people so do not fear. You must’ve done something right along the way. If they suggest changes, make them and send it again. Agents know everything and you should learn from whatever sparkling advice, suggestions, or critique they give you. If they liked it enough to spend time doing this for you, then make the changes and send it out again to them. It could be the push they need to offer you representation! If they still say no, you probably are headed in the right direction for another agent to represent you. If after making changes the agent offers you representation, go to #1000. If they still reject you, go to #15 or #21 again!

1000. Congratulations, you have played the game of chance and you may have won! I can’t give you any more prophetic advice at this point but a few things: build a relationship with your agent because you will be stuck together for awhile, be patient because editors are just as busy as agents, and do not weep if things do not work out. Just start back at #15 or #21! Or even maybe #1!

1001. You are a published author and you should be giving me advice!!!!

Written by Jessica Lei

July 28, 2010 at 7:05 am

Posted in Humor, Lessons, Publishing

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