Show, not Tell

There are 3 rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

The Perfect Writer Biography for a Query

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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: 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.


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

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