Posted by: nancyisanders | August 25, 2010

Resumes: Let’s Start at the Beginning

When I was a beginning writer, I never submitted a resume. Why not? I didn’t have anything to put on it.

If you’re just starting out as a writer, you don’t need a resume either. (Unless you’re submitting to an educational publisher who requires a resume. In this case, just prepare a professional resume of past job and educational experiences without worrying that you do not yet have any writing credits.)

What you do need instead of a resume in your query or cover letter when you’re first starting out as a writer, however, is a sentence or paragraph in your query or cover letter that describes your qualifications as a writer. Don’t even have that yet? Don’t worry! Just skip this part at first. If you don’t have any educational background, job skill experience related to your manuscript, or writing credits, don’t say anything about this in your query or cover letter. The worst thing you can do is describe something about yourself that has no relevancy to the manuscript you’re submitting. It’s better not to say anything. Just target your manuscript to a publisher who is open to working with new writers. How can you know this? Read your market guide.

For instance, I randomly opened a past year’s Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market Guide. Moon Mountain Publishers was listed on the page. In their little blurb it says, “50% of books by first-time authors.” Bingo. They understand someone who doesn’t yet have publishing credits or a resume. Target publishers like this who say 50% or more of their titles or articles are with first-time authors. It ups your chances of getting your foot in the door so you can start on your way to acquiring an impressing resume.

After you do start accumulating publishing credits, then you can state in your query or cover letter a sentence or two about what you’ve had published. At first, you can list the one title of your article and the publisher it was published with and the year it was printed. As you gain more and more credits, you can list them as bullets in your paragraph of the letter. When you start to have so many that they don’t all fit in one paragraph, then it’s time to prepare an actual resume!

In my next post, I’ll share about how to prepare your first resume as a writer.

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