Each agent or agency has specific submission guidelines. I'm hoping you know that already. Some want just a letter, others want pages and/or a synopsis. But more and more are asking for a "brief bio." Ugh!
I really hate this part. I write fiction! And I'm new, with no writing credits! And worse, I never considered myself a writer growing up. I enjoyed it in grade school then detested it in high school so in college I avoided it and tested out. I wasn't bad, I got good grades, but being forced to write and the subjective grading - what does the teacher want to hear? - pushed me to rebel. (scorpio in me)
Here is a great, timely article on how to create a good bio. Mr. Michael Margolis, who has tons of experience, predicts a trend in more creative fields moving away from resumes and towards the bio. I found this piece from Jane Friedman's weekly tweet report.
I summarized what I took from it:
- apparently employers (and agents) are getting personal, they want to get along with you, not just hire you for your skills
- the bio is not a place to brag, it is a summary of who you are and why, a good short story with you as the mc
- use your voice and your personality, don't fake it because they will eventually meet you (you hope)
- sprinkle in backstory, they need to know where you come from, maybe they can relate to you
- research! know who you are talking to, people appreciate someone taking the time to find out about them
- connection is key, hopefully you will make one and have a leg up on the competition (does that cliche mean what I think it means?)
Here is a sample bio I sent out recently. I tuned it to the agent's specifications. After reading the article, I will be getting out my red pen, or starting over.
I love to work and I love to read. In college, my objective mind led me to pursue a Math Education degree. I have had many jobs, from waitress to Engineer assistant. I’ve lived up and down the Eastern US, and my favorite town is Atlanta, Georgia, so many of my stories take place there.
Now that my three boys are older, I am back to work as a substitute teacher, but I felt an itch to write and have been for several years now. So far I’ve completed two novels, tons of poetry, several short stories, and even a few songs. I read and write about Science Fiction, Fantasy, Thrillers, Women’s Fiction and am working on a non-fiction book of timesaving tips for women who hate housework, like me.