Whether you’re a novice writer tentatively making initial contacts with industry professionals or an experienced author seeking new contacts, presenting yourself in the best light possible is of the utmost importance. You must carefully develop and preserve your profile as a writer, and one of the most important ways to start is with your writers CV.
What is a Writers CV? Aside from the tailored inquiry letter, the writers CV is the document publishers, agents and editors see first. It’s where “who you are as a writer” is detailed, where your successes are underscored, your style, interests and passions explained. Are you a serious journalist? A romance novelist? A humorist? A jack-of-all-trades? The tone and style of the CV should reflect your focus.
Parts of a Writer’s CV A writer’s CV differs from a job seeker’s resume. Instead of outlining all one’s work experience, it identifies writing and publishing accomplishments. In general, a writers CV is made up of the following sections:
- Writing Bio: This is a short prose section of perhaps 150-200 words, the purpose of which is to introduce you as a writer. It should chart your development as well as touch on past successes and future expectations.
- Comments: This section includes snippets of good reviews you’ve had—the kind of testimonials you find on the back cover of a book. If you have yet to publish something, it’s still possible to find something to include here. For example, in smaller contests, judges often include comments. Even if you don’t win, there’s a good chance the judge found something positive to say. By becoming involved in local writer’s centres, you’ll make contact with other writers who can read and comment on your work.
- Awards and Achievements: Enter contests as often as possible. It’s great feedback, which will help you perfect your craft. And you might just win! Many contests have shortlists. They also award places, name the runner-up, and give high commendations. Any and every success should be mentioned n the CV. If you’ve been selected for a masterclass, invited to speak at a festival, or participated in a residency, these accomplishments count too.
- Publications: It’s important to build this section by writing for journals and newspapers whenever you get the chance. Even if you’re primarily a fiction writer, it’s still a good idea to write reviews and articles as often as possible. It lets industry professionals know you’re a working writer with a track record. If others have found your writing to be worthy of publication, agents and publishers won’t be so ready to dismiss it.
- Education: If you have a related degree—in literature or journalism, for example—feature it here. If not—if you studied engineering but always wanted to write novels—then go ahead and list your degree, but add all the workshops and seminars you’ve attended that are related to writing.
- Work Experience: In a very abbreviated way, list the jobs you’ve had, even if they have nothing to do with writing. This says something about your life experience and will give the industry professional an idea of the areas you are drawing on for your writing.
Your CV is something you’ll be updating constantly, with every new publication, prize and great review, because unlike a resume for employment, which you dust off every few years, the writers CV goes out with every inquiry and submission. It’s worth the time to make it reflect not only what you’ve done, but what you are going to do.
Best of all, once you arrange your experience and accomplishments in this form, you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll think of yourself as a successful writer and how much more willing others will be to take your writing seriously.
Spent the morning doing my first ever writer’s CV! I was completely dreading it, but, you know, I’m really glad I have it now, and it wasn’t quite as sparse as I was expecting. Thanks so much for the tips 🙂
Cheers for this- thanks, I’ve been googling ‘writer’s CV’ all day and this is the first useful advice I’ve come across 🙂
Good luck to you in your writing journey! Adair Jones