1. starlingarcher
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    starlingarcher New Member

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    Writing experience

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by starlingarcher, Jul 1, 2013.

    My goal is to eventually get a novel published (and maybe eventually multiple novels), but I have nothing to inflate my Bio on my query letter except "contributed two stories to a college literary journal (a journal which I helped create/edit.)"
    Would it be in my best interest to work on other pieces of writing to try and get out in the world? Or is it best to just focus on my goal of getting my novel published, and take a "Who cares what my bio looks like? If my story's good enough, it will speak for itself" stance?

    I've never been much of a short story person, and the two pieces I did have published were classified as "non-fiction," but they really were just short editorial essays. So I feel like if I ventured out into that type of work, I wouldn't really be accomplishing what I want to accomplish... if that makes any sense.

    I don't want to embarrass myself or lose an opportunity just because I don't have previous experience. I can write, and I know I can write, but I need to be able to convince other people of that.

    Any suggestions?
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Yes.

    :) Yes, write it, people will be convinced if it's good. You can learn and improve if it isn't good enough.

    And success might have a bit of the luck of the draw to it which means some bad stuff hits and some good stuff doesn't. You can't count on a big hit. But you should be able to count on a good piece eventually getting noticed for what it is.
     
  3. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Honestly, your writing will speak for itself. Convincing others that you can write is done by showing them your writing. The bio helps build intrigue but isn't necessary if your pitch and submission letter do that by being well-written enough to grab their attention and create a desire to read more.
     
  4. u.v.ray
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    u.v.ray Member

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    There is more than one way to skin a cat, and on this particular issue my experience doesn't necessarily reflect the experience of other writers.

    I think it does help to become known in the magazines before embarking on a novel. But it's not essential.

    In my observation of the literary scene it appears to be more helpful to build a network of contacts. That seems to be the route many writers take in their journey to publication. It's the old saying: it's not what you know, it's who you know.

    There is a little hard-core clique of writers and editors. Without mentioning names I have said for a long time now that they're not just scratching each other's backs, they're licking each other's genitals. And that is why the literary scene is so diseased.

    So that is my understanding of the matter. Being a writer is like being a prostitute. Be prepared to lick plenty of genitals along your route to success.
    :p:D:p

    So, forget any notions of integrity. Of course, I have become quite bitter over the years.
     
  5. JBeckingham
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    JBeckingham Member

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    I agree that your writing will speak for yourself - the problem with writing is that you needs a lot of luck.
    You need to find the right person at the right time, in the right mood, etc. to get them to read your manuscript.
    If your writing is good, you will get noticed ... but it might take some time (depending on how lucky you are).

    Working on your bio will increase the chance that the person reading your excerpt will take more notice.
    If they see that you have some writing experience, they may sit up and take more notice of you than they might have otherwise.
    This will obviously increase your chances, but is by no means neccessary.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    unless you have an impressive amount of paid credits for your writings, the bio part of a query letter to agents won't help at all, so it's best to not even say anything about yourself and let the summary of your book do the selling...

    and the book will have to sell itself in any case, so it makes no sense to me for you to waste years building up a 'name' for yourself, instead of just writing the novel that's trying to 'get out'...
     
  7. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with mammamaia. Focus on the novel and make it good enough so that it does sell itself. A lot of the writing credentials people put in those letters are ignored entirely. If someone sold stories to markets paying pro rates, it did pique my interest a bit, I suppose, but I still looked at the story on its own merits. A list of credits for token or non-paying markets didn't tell me much, other than that the author didn't consider her work good enough to pro rates. Again, if you have impressive credentials then sure, get them out there. Outside of that, write the best book you can and then concentrate on making the best pitch you can.
     
  8. Anthony Martin
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    Anthony Martin Active Member

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    Working with short stories might help you to better write your novel (and vice versa).
     
  9. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    What Mammamaia said is right on track.
     
  10. lockyr
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    lockyr New Member

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    (Can't delete this post?)
     
  11. lockyr
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    lockyr New Member

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    Lots of good points brought up here and while I'm more into the non-fiction realm, I'm glad I came across this question because I had wondered about it too. My understanding was that Mammamaia's point of not needing the bio is true, but I also agree with Anthony Martin about the possibility of short story work (whether it be fiction or nonfiction) helping your novel. I took a fiction class just to fill my timetable last year and found I gained a lot from it that translated into my nonfiction writing. I would recommend trying to get the novel out there despite a lack of credentials because as everyone here seems to be agreeing on, the quality of the novel is what matters. But if possible, simultaneously writing (and publishing) some shorter pieces would bulk up the resume, and more importantly give you a break from the novel and keep you writing. It's never a bad thing to be writing, even if it's not in your preferred genre. For me, experimenting with other genres has helped a lot more than predicted.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    'short stories' are always fiction... short works of non-fiction would be essays, anecdotes, articles, and such...

    generally, only paid publishing credits will impress agents/publishers... freebies in online venues shouldn't be included in the bio section of the query...
     

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