The Author Bio in Your Nonfiction Query

Writing and selling nonfiction is a different beast from selling fiction. Unlike what I said about the author bio in a previous post, the author bio in a nonfiction query matters a great deal.

For nonfiction, the author’s platform and expertise is as important as the material itself. For that reason, when considering a query we want to see the author’s platform in the bio. We want to know what makes you an expert.

This means how many followers do you have on social media. How many speaking engagements and workshops are you doing. Who are your clients and how many podcasts are you a guest on.

If you’re a journalist, we want to know who you are writing for or who you have written for. If you’ve written and published on this subject, we want to know who with, where and when.

When reading nonfiction queries I look at the idea and then I look at the author bio. If you don’t have a platform, I’m not likely to request more material.

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4 comments

  1. I understand the business end of wanting writers to have a built-in audience, but until I saw your post I was still hopeful that my limited platform of academic publications and being an expert in my field would be enough, given the unique yet timely topic of my memoir. But now I’m wondering if I should just try marketing my memoir as fiction instead?

  2. To clarify, if the story itself and the writing are enough to override a limited platform, the agent may decide it’s worth the risk and put forth an offer of representation? Everything I read says that platform really is just about everything. I can understand that about narrative nonfiction, but I have written a memoir. I am a psychotherapist and an expert in the field of narrative medicine. I used the process of writing as a way of healing from childhood trauma. My intention is to raise awareness about one of societies last secrets – female sexual abuse of children, and to provide a voice for the disenfranchised – a link from one world to another through the power of story.

    1. Mary: I wish there was an easy answer to these sorts of questions. The truth is you don’t know until you try. Each editor and agent has a different level for what it means to have a big platform and what is required of that. There is also, most definitely, an advantage to being an expert and having credentials in a subject.

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