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Anne R. Allen's Blog

...WITH RUTH HARRIS

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Anne writes funny mysteries and how-to-books for writers. She also writes poetry and short stories on occasion. Oh, yes, and she blogs. She's a contributor to Writer's Digest and the Novel and Short Story Writer's Market for 2016. 

Her bestselling Camilla Randall Mystery Series features perennially down-on-her-luck former socialite Camilla Randall—who is a magnet for murder, mayhem and Mr. Wrong, but always solves the mystery in her quirky, but oh-so-polite way.

Anne lives on the Central Coast of California, near San Luis Obispo, the town Oprah called "The Happiest City in America."


Anne blogs at Anne R. Allen's Blog...with Ruth Harris 
and at Anne R. Allen's Books

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Listing Publishing Credits in your Query

Today agents Janet Reid and Colleen Lindsay have both blogged complaints about writers including extraneous publishing credits in their queries, so here are some guidelines:

Contests: Ms. Reid says agents do NOT want to hear about your 3rd place or hon. mention “wins”. It’s first place or nothing. She says if you didn’t win, you LOST, and it isn’t something to brag about.

I guess that makes sense, although I’d use discretion here. If it’s a prestigious contest and you won something that’s an equivalent of an Olympic “Bronze,” I’d say go ahead and put it in. If it’s more like you got on the team but spent the entire game on the bench, leave it out. The complete post is at http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2010/01/contests-in-your-query.html.

Short Fiction and other Journal Publications: Ms. Lindsay has a wonderfully detailed post telling exactly what she wants to hear and what she considers a waste of her reading time at http://theswivet.blogspot.com/2008/11/reader-question-when-should-you.html.

With short fiction, if you’ve got a credit in a publication that’s available nationally and/or she’s likely to have heard of it, she’s eager to know. If it’s your brother-in-law’s advertising circular, not so much.

With non-fiction articles, she's only interested if they’re relevant. That means that even if your work on urinary incontinence appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, or you’ve placed twenty op ed pieces in the Times on the subject of global warming, agents don’t want to hear about it. Agents don’t consider them good indications of whether you can keep the sexual tension going in a werewolf romance.

Ditto Non-fic Book Credits. Even if you’ve written Sunset’s most popular book on building doghouses, if you’re pitching an apocalyptic thriller—keep the Fido condos to yourself.

As far as Published Novels, Nathan Bransford has a great post on the subject at http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2008/03/how-and-whether-to-list-your-publishing.html .

He's OK hearing about any novels you’ve published, as long as you provide the publisher’s name and year of publication. He says it’s OK to mention if you self-published—AS LONG AS YOU DON’T CALL YOURSELF A “PUBLISHED AUTHOR.” “Published” to professionals means you’ve been vetted by a number of editors and marketers—and publishing businessfolk have been willing to put up hard cash because they believed in your work.

In other words, when in doubt, DON’T list list a credit. As Nathan says:

“The ranks of people who have been published without a single credit to their name are legion. Just say "This is my first novel" and say it proud.”

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Susan Tuttle, author Tangled Webs said...

Sobering to think that 2nd and 3rd place wins don't count for anything these days. No matter what Ms. Reid says, my plethora of 2nd and 3rd wins, set among the few firsts, do NOT mean I "lost!" They mean 99.999% of other writers came behind me. And that includes a lot of the stuff getting published these days.

Between what to put in as publishing credits and what to do when writing your bio (great blog, btw, and I suggest having a writing friend write yours to start with, they'll be more objective than you will be), there's not a lot left to say for those of us who lead really boring lives, or who enter contests and are bridesmaids and not brides. (No one in my family invented anything, discovered anything, acted in anything, won a major international prize or was a serial killer - rats!) Maybe it's time for me to "borrow" an interesting someone's identity for a while! LOL

January 18, 2010 at 4:51 PM  
Blogger annerallen said...

Yeah. It's kind of a bummer, isn't it? We're writers, which means we're sitting home doing boring stuff like, well, writing, instead of bungee jumping off an alp or something newsworthy.

And BTW, I've heard of screenwriters who borrowed identities to get a read. I think there was a film about a seasoned screenwriter who had to pretend her work was written by her slacker nephew because they only wanted "young, fresh" voices. Uh-oh. I'm probably giving myself away as a closet Lifetime channel watcher.

But as Nathan said, what's important is the writing. The point is to make your query short, to the point, and all about your story.

And don't worry about the bio. When we finally hit the big time, "Octogenarian lands three-book contract" will make great headlines.

January 18, 2010 at 7:36 PM  
OpenID jongibbs said...

Just popped over to thank you for your kind words over at Nathan Bransford's blog.

I'm so glad I did, otherwise I might have missed this great post. A few of my LJ friends have been talking about this very subject recently.

If you don't mind, I'll add this to my 'Picks of the week'.

Thanks for sharing :)

January 21, 2010 at 12:18 PM  
Blogger Diana Paz said...

Thanks for the informative post Anne. I always feel like I learn something when I come for a visit. Since I have no credits or contest wins, this is an easy one for me.

I didn't know you're on Twitter!! I'm following you now :)

January 21, 2010 at 2:41 PM  
Blogger annerallen said...

Jon, I'm honored to be a 'pick of the week!' Loved your post on Nathan's blog!

Diana, thanks for the follow. I usually give a tweet when I've got a major new post here. I'm following you back. I saw you tweeted about the "rejection" post at Dystel and Goderich's blog. I think I'll blog about that a bit later this week.

January 21, 2010 at 5:09 PM  

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