Ask Tania: Writing Your 'About Me' for Publishers and Submissions

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Dear Tania,
I'm sending in manuscript submission and along with the manuscript, the publisher wants a paragraph about me. I never know what to write in these instances. Do I mention my writing history/achievements? Or do I mention my hobbies/quirks? Do I tell a joke? I clearly have no idea and I'm always worried that what I write could be detrimental to my manuscripts.

What a fantastic question, Stacey--and I know exactly what you mean. I've often sent through submissions and worried if I was too candid or too succinct or too waffling, or if the editor is a tea drinker and I ranted too much about coffee .... It could seriously do an author's head in with worry!

What I suggest is two things:

Firstly, be yourself. Write in your own voice, in your own style, and give them both a little bit about yourself as a writer, and yourself as a human. If you are funny, be funny. If you are kooky, be kooky. If you are academic, be academic. Don't try to be anything you're not (of course, this goes for writing manuscripts, too!).

I honestly believe that, like any manuscript, the right editor will resonate with you and with your work. This process is so subjective, it's pointless to overthink it, so writing something that's 100% you is vital.

I usually give a little bit of writing background, current publications (unless asked to list them elsewhere), perhaps hint at an achievement or two, and then something personal. So, for me, my general About Me blurb goes something like this: 

Tania McCartney writes books for both children and adults. An experienced magazine writer and editor, she has been writing professionally for over 25 years, and in 2009, founded Kids’ Book Review, a highly respected children’s literature site. Tania has many years’ experience in book design and publishing, and has quite the picture book obsession. An Ambassador for the National Year of Reading (2012) and a Friend of The Reading Hour, she is passionate about literacy, and can occasionally be seen pushing books onto unsuspecting shoppers in bookshops. Or travelling. Or drinking coffee. With a book.

And here is a more 'formal' one:

Tania McCartney is an author of both children's and adult books. An experienced speaker, magazine writer and editor, she has been writing professionally for over 25 years. The Founder of Kids’ Book Review and an Ambassador for the National Year of Reading (2012), she is passionate about literacy. Tania lives in Canberra with a husband, two kids and a mountain of books.

I strongly suggest writing a few of these About Me blurbs, of varying length and tone. Keep them in a folder on your computer, and you can access the appropriate one quickly and easily when you need to. You can also write some in the first person, some in the third person.

Secondly, be succinct. Some publishers give you word count guidelines, but many don't, so I would always err on the side of brief. What I do know for sure is that editors don't like to have to wade through guff to get to the good stuff--in any form of text. Precise and concise is good.

Whilst being succinct, be sure to remain relevant. Be sure to focus on the task at hand--and perhaps alter the blurb so it's relevant to the manuscript in some way.

I hope this helps, and good luck with your submission!

See all the questions so far ...


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Tania! That was great. My manuscripts have been submitted and I now have a new folder on my desktop titled, "About Me".

Tania McCartney said...

That is so cool, Stacey! So glad I could help.

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