re: Writer Credentials

in Publishing Biz/Submissions by

Dear Editor…

I’m writing a picture book and when putting together my manuscript I understand I have to include a bit about my writing credentials. Problem is – I don’t have any! Is this a barrier to entry or mean I’ll be subject to greater critical analysis than a published author?

Thanks,
Navigating Novice

Dear Navigating Novice…

It’s the ol’ chicken-and-egg resume moment. How do I get experience if no one will give me a job without experience? Feh. Fill the credential paragraph of your query letter with one of these:

  1. a statement explaining why YOU are the person to write this particular manuscript (i.e., it’s about an alien and you’re a former astronaut)
  2. the line “I’m a member of SCBWI. I hope this manuscript is up your alley and look forward to hearing from you.” If you’re not a member, become one. It tells editors you’re serious about perfecting your craft.
  3. option 2 above, minus the first five words. It won’t hurt that you’ve never been published. You just don’t get that extra oomph of credibility.

Happy writing!

The Editor

2 Comments

  1. I never understood how spending $85 suddenly shows that you’re “serious about perfecting your craft.” If anyone can become a member of SCBWI, how is that an important credential?

    • You make a good point. Perhaps it is too generous to assume that someone who pays $85 will in fact read The Bulletin when it comes in the mail or take advantage of the other resources SCBWI offers for improving craft. The reality may be that the writer merely paid for the use of those letters during submission. Not much to do about that. Personally, I prefer to give that writer the benefit of the doubt and then move on to the manuscript itself and judge her ability, not her credibility.

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