Most agents expect to see a brief biography in your query letter. “Brief” is the key—a few sentences are all you need. Don’t share your life details unless they relate to the story—e.g. you’re a brain surgeon and you’ve written a medical drama. Keep your bio relevant to the manuscript you’re querying and keep the focus on your writing achievements. Include your traditionally published works, if you’ve got any. Mention writing awards you’ve won if they’re notable and recent. If you don’t have literary accolades to share, say something positive about your writing experience and move on.
Self-publishing is writing experience, but it’s not an accomplishment that traditional publishing views as proof you’re a talented writer. So unless your self-published book sold a million copies within a year, don’t include details about your self-publishing endeavors, beyond perhaps mentioning that you’ve done it. Provide your website or links to your work only if the agent requests them. Keep the focus on the unpublished manuscript you're querying.
Be confident in your query. Don’t denigrate yourself or your manuscript. Keep everything positive. However, a fine line exists between confident and arrogant. Don’t stray into, “You’ve never read anything like my work,” or “You’re going to love my book.” Just present the story. Let agents make their own judgments.
Agents who reject your query seldom give feedback. You’re lucky if you get a form response telling you your work doesn’t fit their list. Usually, if they’re not interested in your project, you won’t hear from them. If they bother to provide comments, consider yourself blessed and pay attention!
Feedback can hurt, but don’t get upset. Agents know what sells. Take their advice.
Do you have to change your manuscript based on an agent’s remarks? No. But you’d be wise to consider applicable rewrites. They might make the difference between a hard no or a request for the full manuscript on your next query.
Three keys for querying: keep it Short, Relevant, and Positive!
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