The next part of the query letter is a bit of a balancing act: the biographic paragraph. You want to give enough information to make it seem that you know what you’re doing, but you don’t want to tell a prospective agent about that one time you won your high school short story contest or how your dad loves your novel. The key words are short, relevant, and professional.

If you have any training or life experiences in a subject that pertains to your novel, you might want to mention it. For example, if you’re writing a contemporary crime procedural and you worked as a police dispatcher for eight years, that’s pertinent to your query. It gives the impression that you know what you’re talking about and that the agent can trust that you’re familiar with the subject matter.

You can also mention higher education and any degrees you hold, especially if they pertain to writing in general or your genre or audience. Knowing that you have an MS in child psychology, for example, might tip the scales in your favor if you’re querying a middle grade or YA manuscript. Be sure,  though, that you’re always keeping your attention on relevance. There’s no reason to mention that you were in a rock band in college if your book has nothing to do with music.

If you have previously published works, you can also mention them. Credits in literary magazines or anthologies are definitely points in your favor. If you’re fortunate enough to have a published novel or an established nonfiction or poetry audience, definitely be sure to put that information in your query.

Even with all of that, your bio should be the shortest part of the query letter. Remember: you only get one page. Maximum three hundred words to make an impression. If you’ve set up your pitch and housekeeping, your novel should speak for itself. Your bio should be a short, sweet summary of why you’re the only one who could write it.

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