by Devin Ross, agent with New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc.
As an agent, one of the best parts of my job is that I get to choose who I work with. Working with authors means I get to work with a whole slew of interesting people from different backgrounds, with different perspectives.
One of the most underrated ways of grabbing an agent’s attention is through your author bio. Having a great pitch is an important part of the process. But people often forget that when looking for new clients in my queries, I’m constantly looking for unique voices with interesting stories. That same idea transfers over to who you are as well. The bio in your query letter is the first taste your future agent will have of who you are as a person, so don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and show them your personality!
It doesn’t matter if your bio is funny or serious, but it’s important that it’s authentic and that it shows who you are. A couple of my clients have graciously allowed me to share their bios that really stand out.
Susan Lee has built a career as a Human Resources executive at successful startups such as Spotify, Warby Parker, and SeatGeek. Her biggest job takeaway: people are all, for the most part, ridiculous. And she channels this into her writing of light-hearted, quirky novels about the oftentimes hilarious human condition.
Francina Simone believes in one thing: Authenticity. She writes YA #ownvoices stories full of humor and hard life lessons with sprinkles of truth that make us all feel understood. Her craft focuses on feel good stories about brown girls throwing caution to the wind to discover exactly who they are and what it means to love.
Susan’s bio shows me that she has a sense of humor and understands human nature but doesn’t take it too seriously. These are all themes you’ll find in her books, and themes that I find intriguing.
If you’ve ever seen Francina’s youtube videos, you know she doesn’t pull punches and she tells it how it is. Reading in her bio that the stories she writes stay true to that theme told me that her books would be hilarious as well as authentic.
I know it can be difficult to hype yourself up in a bio (I have to write them, too!). But I like to think of it as a sneak peek into the person I am about to meet, a glimpse into the brain behind the book.
While you’re thinking about what you can do to tweak the bio you have right now, here are a few examples of bios I’d love to see in my query box that would most certainly grab my attention:
Gertrude Gratitude met her husband while following The Beach Boys around the world on tour. She now writes love stories full of wanderlust and good vibrations.
Humphry Snufflepuff grew up on a barley farm in Nebraska where his father taught him the key elements needed to craft a fine beer. As a teen, he experimented with brews of his own too *very* limited success. He now owns his own brewery and writes books on the brew life.
Reindeer Winterhead believes that Santa is real. She doesn’t care what anyone else has to say on the matter. At Christmas time she feels the magic in the air and that is that. She writes holiday stories with the hopes of spreading some of that cheer.
Chad Chadsworth has never experienced that earth-shattering love feeling that makes the ground fall out from under him, but he has flown Ryan Air… is that the same? No? In the meantime, he writes queer love stories in hopes he will find that love on the page.
These are just a few examples of bios that are informative and interesting. I hope these give you a touch of inspiration as you write your own bio.
Devin Ross is an agent with New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc. She graduated from Lawrence University, then went on to get her Certificate in Publishing from the Denver Publishing Institute. After starting her publishing career at Penguin Random House, she found her longterm home at New Leaf Literary representing both children’s and adult titles. She is looking for anything that helps her see her own in a different light. Devin loves books that teach her things, whether purposeful or through the telling of a story, it doesn’t matter. She is a lifelong learner and is always looking to expand her horizons. At this time, she is specifically looking to grow her list Contemporary Romance, Women’s fiction, nonfiction, and anything with a social justice tilt to it.
To query Devin at New Leaf Literary please send the query to email@example.com. The word “Query” must be in the subject line, plus the agent’s name, ie – Subject: Query, Devin Ross Romance. Please also include the category (ie, PB, chapter book, MG, YA, adult fiction, adult nonfiction, etc.) You may include up to 5 double-spaced sample pages within the body of the email.