If you’re a writer starting out on submissions, you’ll quickly realize you need a writer’s bio. I’ll set out a template for that another day. Today, I’m going to address an equally important (though less requested) professional necessity: the writer’s resume.
A writing-specific resume is a good thing to have on your website in case interested industry professionals stop by. It’s also good to have one for record-keeping, as well as being handy for those occasions when an agent or publisher requests one (it does happen). So where to start?
I’ve set up a resume template with various headings that might be applicable. Everyone is different; every resume should be highly tailored. What does this mean for you? Use the room to your best advantage. Don’t have industry expertise relevant to your genre? Use that space to highlight your exceptional (if relevant) education. Were your grades so-so? Leave them off. List more publication history. Lacking in publication history? Boast about a longer history of group memberships and leadership roles.
My strategy is this.
Fill out this entire template, leaving nothing off and not worrying about how long it is. Then prioritize. Almost always, past publications are of the most interest, so put those up top. Then go on a case-by-case basis from there, highlighting your most impressive credits first. For a website, don’t worry about length too much. But have a shortened version that is no more than one page for requests from professionals.
To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, here are some things I did to personalize mine. I’ve been accepted for publication at 13 venues, which is a total of 19 works. Listed by works, it looks more impressive, so this is what I do online, where I have the room. But when I only have a page, 13 lines is much better to work with, so I list by publication (more than one work at some). And if I’m really cramped for space, I take off 3-4 of the less impressive ones.
Similarly, I don’t have any particularly impressive expertise in my genres of choice. So I left that category off entirely and opted to include my education, which is at least moderately impressive. If you have a degree in English or Writing, feel free to include that. Generally speaking, don’t include GPAs or test scores unless they are phenomenal (4.0, etc.). Save that extra line for something that can ONLY be construed as good. Likewise, in listing prizes, to save space (especially in a 1-pager), only list 3rd place and higher. List them all if you have the room, but a Masters in Poetry is more impressive than 10th honorable mention, if you have it.
See what I’m saying? Fill it all out, see what you have, and only include the best.