experience, attitude, enthusiasm, and boundless optimism

Ask Daphne! How Much to Include?

bassbucsAnother pause in our About My Query posts to answer a question from a blog reader. Also, for your information, these are the shoes I wore in high school. Anyway! Erin writes:

I am a high school junior, and I have been re-writing my most recent novel. I believe that it might be good for publication. I have accomplished a variety of writing activities in my high school career, such as being an editor for my school newspaper and being listed in Who’s Who in Journalism. I’m wondering if I should list these types of items in my queries or if this would seem unprofessional. In my research on writing queries, I have learned that an author can include any information about their writing history if it applies, or they can skip over this section if they do not have any information that is applicable. I’m curious if my writing history should be included or if it would be better to not include my high school information since this highlights the fact that I am a younger writer. I have worked very hard on this piece, going through a variety of drafts and rewrites. I have completed much research on the publishing business and any information that was needed for my novel. I would like my writing to be able to speak for itself, without my age being a factor, but I would also like to include any information of my accomplishments that may aid my chances. Thank you for your help.

In my personal opinion? Skip mentioning your high school newspaper experience unless you can tell it in such a way that it doesn’t seem quite so current.

I have found in reading many queries from young writers that they place too much emphasis on their youth. Play up the story of your book, and, as much as possible, try to let it stand on its own. If I come across a brilliant novel in a query, I don’t care if I don’t have any information about the author at all — that I can get later.

And though it may seem obvious from the above, just in case it isn’t — don’t tell me your age in a query. I don’t care. I don’t read queries from young writers with any more or less kindness than I read queries from adults, so age doesn’t matter.

Good luck!