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Author Topic: Cryptic Submission Question
Keeley
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When an editor says in his/her guidelines that they want to hear "a little bit about you" as well as any publication credits in the cover letter, what do they mean by "a little bit about you"?

Do they want to know how long I've been writing? Do they want to know what particularly interests me about writing and what I hope to accomplish? Or is it something else?


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mikemunsil
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Think of it from their point of view. They want to know if anything about you will help sell books.

So (and this is facetious, so please don't get upset), are you the world's best at something? have the largest cleavage in 3 states? type with your toes because you have no arms? are a professional [insert here] who is writing a fictional tale about a [insert here] and thus can be counted upon to have more credibility? do people know your name from TV?

...and so on. Anyway, that's my take on it.

mm


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Isaiah13
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When it comes to short story subs, I think they might just be looking for something to throw into the "About the author" blurb at the end of the mag. But I'm just guessing. I've been kind of curious about this myself, actually. I have a market picked out for one of my stories and they want a brief (3 line) bio. What the heck am I supposed to tell them about myself? Should it be serious and proffesional, or can I toss in something quirky?
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RavenStarr
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Keeley:
I'd say what they're looking for, is more or less a little bit of both of what mike and Isaiah are saying. Just tell them something about yourself. They don't need your full-blown life's history, just enough to make you interesting to someone that might pick up your book/article and wonder about who you are. Read some of the "About the Author" things that are in other books and articles to get a better idea.

Isaiah13:
I'd go with serious and professional, and save the quirky for when you’re famous enough to get away with it...

[This message has been edited by RavenStarr (edited March 29, 2005).]


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Beth
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I think it really depends on the market. Look at what the other contributors have in their bios!

You definitely want to mention your top 3 relevant publication credits, if you've got 'em.

Other things that often get mentioned: geographical location, day job, hobbies/interests, any major writing project you're currently working on (say, a novel), writing history, etc.

sometimes they are very stylized and can be funny or artistic or whatever - but imo that's kind of risky, and unless you're reasonably confident that the style would be appropriate, it's best to stick with something fairly straightforward and to the point.

writing bios is very awkward for me! i recommend that everyone spend some time thinking up a few versions NOW, so that you've got them ready when a publisher asks for them.


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Kolona
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Mike is right. Awhile back, along with a rejection for my first novel, the publisher also mentioned something to the effect of (mind you, this is my interpretation) "Even if we liked your novel, which we don't, in order for us to publish you, you'd have to have marketable connections."

Isaiah13, check previous author blurbs in the market you're going for. That should give you an idea of what they're looking for.


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wbriggs
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My problem is the blurbs I see point out previous books published (I have none) or relevant professional history (I have none).

My recent answer to this q was that I teach at a college in Virginia; canoe; hike; and have no cats. This is because they used to put little blurblets in Asimov's and people would always list their cats. Maybe this was unwise.


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Isaiah13
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What is it about us speculative fiction writers and our cats?
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MaryRobinette
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Dogs need to go for walks, thus interupting the writing flow. Cats, on the other hand, will sit on your pages and keep them warm for you, thus demonstrating their love of literature.
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Kolona
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"Blurbets." <giggle>
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djvdakota
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If I remember right, www.strangehorizons.com has author-written blurbs on their site. Read through a few. Some are serious, some are quirky.

Could be that what they want is something that will help you stand out and get your name remembered. I also remember reading somewhere that what they DON'T want is to hear about how you've had the heart of a writer since you were old enough to read. Apparently that's an eye-rolling cliche and a great bit ol' AMATEUR red-flag. If you don't have any credits, don't list anything.

I have ONE publishing credit (at least I will when it's ACTUALLY published in May) and NO relevant experience, so...

...my usual blurb says something like:

quote:
Dakota is a career mom (meaning being a mom is her career) with an addiction to writer's forums and a completely useless degree in Fine Arts. Her work has been published in (insert current list of relevant credits here).

Oh, yeah. Take a look at the lists of credits that writers put in these blurbs. Great source for potential markets!

[This message has been edited by djvdakota (edited March 29, 2005).]


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Beth
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I cringe when people mention their cats like that - just too too twee for me and it makes me want to fwow up. love it that you specified no cats.

(I am strongly pro-cat! just anti-cat-in-bio.)

dakota, do you really need the parenthetical explanation of "career mom" ?

and echoing what dakota said about using bios to track down other markets!


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ScottMiller
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Well, my cover letters are usually "plain vanilla," and unless someone asks for relevant info (like a three-line bio!) I usually don't include one. (I used to do more detailed letters, and tried to "sell" the stories, but stopped when I realized how counterproductive it was.)

When I have done one it's usually along the lines of "Scott lives in Colorado, where he enjoys fooling with his record collection and taking in the local parks. He is currently working on" whatever it is. (I've also tried quirky a few times. Basically it depends on what mood I'm in.)

Otherwise my cover letters tend to consist of, "Enclosed is my story 'Adventures Of The Banana Smoothie' [not a real title, obviously]. Thanks for your time and consideration." In nonfic you want to include info on your accomplishments or credentials for writing this particular piece, but in fiction I don't see how that really matters. Or maybe it's because I'm tired of trying to think of new and exciting ways to write cover letters and just want to get that part over with so I can go to the post office and mail the thing.


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Beth
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my cover letters are equally brief. "Enclosed is my 2500 word story, 'Attack of the Evil Robot Monkeys'. My fiction has appeared in XXX, YYY, and ZZZ. Thank you for your consideration." I have never heard that editors are looking for more than that for short stories (unlike novel query letters, which are a whole different hot dog).


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Keeley
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Wow, thanks for all the responses everyone.

I'm doing as suggested and combining Mike's and Isaiah's suggestions (though I'm leaving out the part about my cleavage size and whether or not I have arms ).

Thanks again!


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goatboy
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IMHO, the bio should be tailored somewhat to the story and the publication being submitted to. For instance, a cat is appropriate in a bio IF you've written a story with a cat in it. If your story is about airplanes and you're a pilot, you should mention it. Or maybe you though of the story in an airport, or while watching "Airplane" on TV.

quote:
Keeley lives with her cat named Max in Anystate USA. She enjoys travelling, and thought of this cat flying an airplane story while waiting in the airport lounge on a recent trip to Mexico.

This satisfies the reader's questions regarding where you got the idea and what your qualifications to write it are. And, it tells them just a tiny tidbit about you, without giving your entire life story. By tailoring the next bio, you can change the tidbit to something else and your fans will be able to add a little more to their picture of you. The idea here is to make it look like you're telling them something important, without ever really giving anything away.


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djvdakota
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quote:
dakota, do you really need the parenthetical explanation of "career mom" ?

These days, Beth, and considering that most of the editors who'll read my little blurb DON'T live in Zion , yes I do.


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Kolona
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That's why I go with "professional housewife" and note that my forays into the business world are "career detours."
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dpatridge
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back with the cats thing, OUR cats love literature so much that they try to EAT my manuscripts

hehe

anyways... i don't really have anything to say here on a serious note... although i'm glad someone asked this question so that i won't have to whenever i come across this


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Pyre Dynasty
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I once bought a book on the Author's bio saying that they could light a fire in a windstorm.
(of course it was so full of typos it drove me insain.)

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Kolona
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What did you expect, Pyre? It's hard to type in a windstorm.
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Survivor
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Particularly whilst lighting a fire.
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