Tackling the Bio Portion of the Query

One question I’ve been asked quite a few times (or at least more than once) is what do I put in the bio section of my query letter?

Most people know that the bio section is where you put publishing credentials. This can include previous publications, awards, relevant degrees or course work, online platform (if you have one) and writing-related jobs. For instance, I use the following as my bio:

I am currently pursuing my master’s degree in linguistics, with research related to YA fiction. I’ve spent two years interning for a literary agency and assisting author Rick Walton with his publishing industry class. I also have a growing online platform with my site kyramnelson.com.

But I also have a lot of people ask what to put in the bio if they don’t have any credentials. In truth, not much. The bio doesn’t need to be long, and if you don’t have publishing credentials, one sentence ought to do it. Just enough to let the agent know that you are a real person with a real life. If I didn’t have publishing experience, I might say

I’m a Montana native currently studying at Brigham Young University.

You should also consider putting in information that’s not relevant to publishing if it is relevant to your character or story. If you are writing about an aspiring equestrian and you have been riding horses for ten years, mention that. This lets the reader know that you know what you’re talking about when you write your character.

This is especially useful if you are writing diverse books. You can say something along the lines of “Like my main character Penny, I am Japanese American” or “My experience counseling teens with anxiety inspired me to write this story.”

In short, though, don’t sweat the bio. Keep it short and simple. Use what experience you have effectively, but don’t stress if you don’t have a lot of experience.


3 thoughts on “Tackling the Bio Portion of the Query

  1. “Don’t sweat the bio.” I will have to keep repeating that to myself, over and over and over again. Writing bio’s is something I’ve never been so good at. Let me tell you ALL about someone else, no problem. Tell you about myself, not so easy… 🙂

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