Writing an Author's bio for a Query when you have no publishing experience

So I have been doing my research on literary agencies and agents that might take my query into consideration and I noticed that a lot of them ask for Author’s bios. I looked into what that entails and a lot of websites suggested that it has to do with the author’s publishing history, which I obviously don’t have. They also suggested that if you don’t have publishing experience, you can demonstrate your dedication to your craft by talking about literary societies you’re involved in.

Well… I’m not involved in literary societies either. I’m actually quite a hermit. Interactions with other humans exhausts me, and I try to avoid it if I can help it. The only thing I can think that might demonstrate my qualifications for writing the novel I’m submitting for query is the fact that I share my protagonists profession (seamstress), and I have lived in my protagonists home of origin (England). That’s about it. I don’t have any published works, I haven’t won any reputable writing contests. I don’t even have a Twitter account. I’m just a recluse trying my hand at traditional publication.

Any tips?

I actually ran into this problem as well. Educated as an engineer, absolutely no relevant writing experience sans a few research papers, no literary journals/involvement in the literary scene. One of the things they suggested for folks like us is… Wattpad! Which sounds crazy, but apparently if you build a decent following here (or tumblr, or scribd, or [insert writing website here]), it can catch someone’s eye. Or so I’ve been told.

Another thing is self-publishing. Similarly, you need to build a fan-base, but if you put some of your work out there and people buy it, then bam, you can say: “hey, publisher, people like what i’ve got to say, maybe you should pay attention!”

So there’s no silver bullet as far as I know, no “do this right now and it’ll work,” but isn’t that writing? It’s always “spend a few months doing x and we’ll see if it pays off.” And you can always give it a shot just highlighting what skills you do have. There’s always that off-chance it’ll pay off. Might be one in a million, but traditional publishing is one in a million anyways.

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Thank you for your response.

Do you know what would qualify as a decent following here? I have only been writing here since November and I have about 6k reads on my first book. 2k reads on its sequel. I’ve heard that 10k is the big mile maker, but maybe it’s more?

I have actually considered the idea of writing a stand-alone novel and self-publishing it to see how it does. The series I’ve been working on is kind of my passion project, so I don’t want to go straight to self-publishing with that, but I wouldn’t mind doing it with this particular stand-alone I have in mind. Hell, if it does well enough with self-publishing, I might just skip trad-publishing altogether.

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This is the exact reason I am here. Trying to build SOMETHING to put on the query letter.

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That’s a lot of reads to me, I’ve got one at 1k and one ~750. Still, that sounds like a number that might make an agent pay attention. It’s not like the agent will (necessarily) have a deep knowledge of wattpad, so as long as it’s a good-sounding number, it’s probably fine.

Same! I’m writing something for self publication right now actually, while my real passion project is up on WP for feedback for the second draft before an eventual attempt at trad publication :smiley: Guess we’ll see how the fates pull us!

It is FINE not to have any publishing credits OR an established following. Don’t say you’re unpublished or that this is your first novel or anything like that. If you have the same vocation as the protagonist and have lived in the place where the story is set, say that, and then wrap up.

Don’t stress. Everyone starts somewhere!! Your query pitch and your pages are what matter, not your previous publishing credits.

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Pages are another thing I have questions about. A lot of agencies require x number of pages, but how does one quantify these pages? Like Word Doc pages? 300 hundred words per page?

Disclosure: I’m an editor with a small press and this is my pen name. I use a pen name so my authors don’t get put off by my smut, but if you happen to like that sort of thing, maybe we can make a connection.

Frankly, some of us don’t care and some of us don’t even deal with agents but accept submissions directly. I have a program that reads aloud to me. I completely ignore the author’s bio, cover letter, synopsis, etc. and go straight for the goods. I copy and paste the manuscript itself into my Natural Reader program. Then I listen to it while I paint my nails or play with shiny things on my desk. I’ll give the average manuscript an hour before I reject it. To me, the most important thing is the quality of the writing.

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What, like you write smut? :joy: I have no objection to sexually explicit material (I write some of it myself) but the only smut I’m even remotely interested in is girlxgirl with a man no where in the vicinity. Us goldstars are awfully picky.

Lord, I wish everyone would do this. Though, I am worried that the first 10 pages of my “goods” (which seems to be what most agents ask for) aren’t that exciting. It’s just the protag getting on a train and heading to the countryside to escape the Blitz with some info about her family history and her magic sewing powers sprinkled in. Though, an hour of material would probably get into the exciting bits

Yep! Mine is polyamorous smut and since I’ve had a bad experience coming out to coworkers in the past, I keep it quiet unless I know someone is on my page.

Ah yeah, it has to have a good hook. Ten pages of train riding and I’m probably dropping it unless something really exciting happens on that train. Hooks are challenging and I’m not so great with them myself.

I’m all for it if it’s all girl polyamory, but otherwise, I have a dick allergy.

Well, she does magically conjure a living flower out of her embroidery. Does that count?

But really, it’s really just the most logical place to start it. I mean, I suppose I could add a bomb shelter scene for the “excitement” factor, but it would really be superfluous. It’s Operation Pied Piper, so she gets on a train, goes to the country to be “safe” but ends up in more danger.

I mean, I guess if it gets rejected enough, I’ll just self-publish. Honestly, I just think it would be nice to have some extra income coming in. Especially during the slow time when bridal season tapers off.

Sounds like the problem I had with my first novel. I thought it was important for the reader to get to know and understand the heroine so the beginning was that. Her going to a fateful event (the inciting incident) and thinking back on her background.

Then I was informed by Beta readers that the beginning was boring. I ended up deleting the first 2 1/2 chapters and sprinkling that background information throughout the story.

Not the best attitude for self-publishing. If you believe it’s getting rejected for something you did in the beginning of the story, what makes you think readers won’t feel the same way? Unless a book is recommended, the reader will look at the cover, read the blur, AND THEN sample the beginning of the book. If they find the beginning boring, they won’t buy it.

Sorry, lots of dick in it!

It could appeal to the right people. If it’s exciting to you, then it’s bound to be exciting to someone.

dictionary.com defines smut as:

Smut is obscene or pornographic material, including pictures and writing.

And under obscene:

offensive to morality or decency; indecent; depraved.
abominable; disgusting; repulsive.

Do you really write smut? I have very graphic sex scenes in my novels. I also have very graphic violent scenes in my novels. (Lately I’ve been writing erotic thrillers.) Some people might find both or either offensive, but I don’t write smut. The sex and violence are integral to the story and characters, but the story and characters are paramount.

My sex and violence are both integral to my story. However, I’d like to point out that morality is relative. I personally believe that prostitution is morally acceptable as an honest exchange of service for money, but many do not believe so. In that sense, yes. It is smut to certain people.

I mean, if they don’t buy it, then I’ll just be making same amount of money I’m making off it now, won’t I? But if they do buy it, that’s more money than I was making.

I honestly have no aspirations of becoming a famous author. The story is already a bit too niche for that. And I’m personally perfectly content to read 10 pages of nothing happening as long as the writing is beautiful. I kind of go the opposite way of most readers; I don’t care how much action there is, if the style of the prose doesn’t draw me in, I stop reading.

I haven’t had much luck finding beta readers, but most of my Wattpad readers have had nothing but good things to say about the first chapter. I get a lot of praise for my descriptions (particularly the opening paragraph) and the uniqueness of the premise. But all that really happens is: MC gets on a train, goes to her great aunt’s house, learns about her mother’s dead sister and her mother’s mysterious recovery from polio, then her great aunt tells her the legend of the Wild Hunt. That’s it. No action scenes or sword fights or abductions. I mean, by page 18 of the manuscript the MC is getting chased by a terrifying monster, but not page 10.

Without reference to your opening (which might indeed be great), it seems to me there is less useful ‘signal’ in Wattpad reader comments than there would be from experienced Beta readers or critique partners. If Wattpad readers comment at all, they tend to be generous. More generous, I think, than paying readers would be.

In fact, I see the “great start” / “love yer opening” type of comment so often on Wattpad, and so often attached to uninspired openings that have spelling, punctuation, and grammar (SPaG) issues, that they make me suspicions. I suspect that at least some of the commenters haven’t read at all, and won’t pretend to read further unless you start reading and commenting on their book.

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Pages refer to properly formatted manuscript pages. If they ask for the first five pages, then they mean what they would see on the first five pages in your manuscript. You’ll format it differently for email, but that’s the measuring stick. (You don’t have to stop in the middle of a sentence, BTW.)