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Getting an agent: Query: Bio


I wasn’t really as surprised by the rejection as much as I was the speed. In less than 24 hours after hitting send, I was staring at a polite, professional, boiler plate, “Thank’s, but no.”

Wow, my query bounced back so fast it got whiplash!

Eh? Whiplash?

No? Ok, moving on.

Since I was pretty sure that the agency didn’t have a message bot that scanned for key words and sent auto rejects. (though they probably wished they did.) It told me that my query was bad.

So now I have the tremendous task of patching up my query letter. Fortunately, the internet is overloaded with helpful tools to aid in my quest. Dozens of outlets exist where I can, for a nominal fee, get my query critiqued. There are also workshops, online courses, and even agents who have entire blogs and/or twitter feeds dedicated to improving queries. (Most notably the agent who recently sent me the ricochet rejection. Guess I’m a poor student.)

Unfortunately, these resources give out contradictory advice.

Example: Bio’s

Agent 1 “The bio is the most important part of your query letter…Even if the pitch is not strong, a good bio will get you noticed.”

Let’s see how that plays out.

Dear Agent,
I have a book. Bad things happen to normal people.
I’m Stephen King

Hmm.. I’m not Stephen King. I’m also a newb. Relying on my bio is not a good play.

Agent 2 “Tell me about your hobbies and interests. Being a debut writer will not hurt your chances. Use your bio to really let your personality shine through.”


I have a cat. I have an advanced degree in sarcasm, with endorsements in bitchiness, and cynicism.

maybe not,

Agent 3 “I don’t care about your dog. If it’s not relevant to the project leave it out. If you are a debut author, skip the bio entirely. It won’t hurt your chances.“

Despite what her website says, I have a sneaking suspicion that it won’t hurt because this particular agent doesn’t give debuts a second glance. But at the moment I’m willing to risk it.

I’m gonna go with option 3.

M.L. Keller is a freelance writer and editor. Her blog "The Manuscript Shredder" is focused on helping emerging writers hone their craft.

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