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Academic background in Query Letter?

Historical Fiction Fiction

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#1 RossWrites

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 12:41 PM

I know that having a short biographical section in a query is not really a make-or-break issue either way, but I don't want to leave it out if it would be beneficial.

 

I'm working on preparing a query for a historical fiction. I have a B.A. in general historical studies and an M.A. in a more narrowed field of history, but which is not directly applicable to the setting of my manuscript. Should I mention this or would it be seen as useless information to the query? I want to present competence with historical understanding, but I also don't want to overplay what might not be of interest to an agent.



#2 Thrash

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 01:24 PM

I'd include it but in as few words as possible. 

 

For comparison, this is the last paragraph of my query:

 

Any Horror But This is complete at 85,000 words and would appeal to readers who enjoy the emotional focus of Tana French and psychological tension of Night Film by Marisha Pessl. Sleep paralysis is a genuine disorder that fascinated many when featured in the documentary The Nightmare, but is underrepresented in fiction. I live in Memphis, TN, where this novel is set, and received my MFA from University of Memphis in 2011.  I’d be delighted to send additional materials upon request.

 

The bulk of the rest of the query is story (and I keep tweaking/totally changing that part) so I think of this paragraph as end-data. I do invite others who may have a different opinion, but I think it's safe to include in the last paragraph. If the agent isn't interested in the story, they probably won't even closely read that paragraph, if they are very interested, it's a bonus, and in if they're on the fence, it can only do in you favor, but you definitely want the focus and bulk of your query be focused on your story rather than you.



#3 RossWrites

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Posted 23 May 2017 - 08:26 AM

Thanks Thrash.

 

I want to strike that right balance. Thanks for the example, I appreciate it and it helps.



#4 Litgal

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  • Publishing Experience:My debut novel, "The Sister Queens," (March 2012/NAL), was set in 13th century France and England and wove the captivating story of sisters, Marguerite and Eleanor of Provence, who both became queens. My next solo novel, "Medicis Daughter," (Dec 1 2015/Thomas Dunne) traveled forward three-hundred years to the intrigue-riven French Valois court, spinning the tale of beautiful princess Marguerite who walks the knife edge between the demands of her serpentine mother, Catherine de Medicis, and those of her own conscience.

    In between I became a "hybrid" as part of a group of six authors involved in a high concept novel-in-six-parts called "A Day of Fire" which released in November of 2014. The book, "A Day of Fire," tells the story of the final days of the doomed city of Pompeii in a way you've never read it before.

Posted 24 May 2017 - 03:30 PM

I have a BA in history but no MA. Still I honestly think mentioning you academic work really won't make a difference. Either your query and your pages will hook an agent (in which case he/she will not care if you were a math major or are currently a plumber) or they won't (in which case you degree will not matter either). 


Lit. (aka Sophie Perinot)

#5 Thrash

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Posted 24 May 2017 - 08:31 PM

fair. it'll only hurt if it takes words away from pitching your actual story, and may not help. If it does help, it'll be a relatively minor considerate for the agent. 







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