Last week I discussed some general tips for developing your resume as a writer in order for you to submit it to potential publishers. Now, let’s talk about how to format that resume and what it should include.
The following are various headings your writing resume should contain. You should modify the order in which your sections are placed based on where you have the most (and the most relevant) experience and what particular writing assignment you are applying for. For instance, if a publisher is, for some reason, interested in your education and non-writing expertise more than your actual writing experience, then those areas of interest should be higher up on your resume than your writing credits section.
Objective: This is optional to have on your resume. If you are applying for a broader area, such as work-for-hire projects or children’s picture books, then you can state that as an objective. If , however, you are sending your resume in conjunction with a query for a magazine article, or something similarly specific, then you can safely omit section.
Skills Summary: While this may be titled in various ways, it is an important area to have front and center on any resume you send out. This is the “quick-n-dirty” recap of all the reasons the publisher should hire you. Here, you list your overall years of experience, a rough estimate of the number of writing credits you have and in what areas, or your expertise background that makes you a perfect fit for this writing assignment. This is also a good place to put those intangibles that you may not mention specifically elsewhere: meeting deadlines, attention to detail, love of research, etc.
Key Words: This is also an optional section, although you may want to check with the publisher to see if they scan their resumes into and from a database. More than likely, your resume will be read by the publisher first and then put into a database, not immediately scanned into a database to be retrieved later, the way many corporations do. Because of this, the key word section isn’t as necessary. If you do use it, think of the most common terms possible and as many terms as possible that you can insert into this section: fiction, short stories, comedy, mystery, novels, etc.
Writing Experience (or, simply Experience if you don’t yet have writing experience): If you’re doing a chronological resume, list, in reverse order by date, any jobs you’ve had that include writing. Or, if you freelance, list that as such with the year you began freelancing. If you only have non-writing experience, list only those jobs that will be most relevant to the writing assignment you’re applying for.
If you’re doing a functional resume, list, in bullet points, the type of writing experience, or other experience you have. Order your experience from the most relevant to the least.
Writing Credits: If you have published work, list it as bullet points in this section. Be sure to include the publisher name, title of work, if it was a book, magazine article, poem, etc., and date. If you have a lot of writing credits, you can combine like credits under the same bullet, such as 3 children’s history books for Capstone Press, 2009-2010. Or, several parenting articles for Parents magazine, 2003-2007.
Education: List any degrees you have, along with the schools you attended. Dates are not always necessary under high school and college education listings. If you’ve taken continuing education classes in a writing-related field, however, you should include dates with these to show how recently you’ve taken the classes. Writing correspondence courses and online writing courses may also be included in this section. If you have a lot of this type of education, and you are still in process of taking continuing education classes, you may want to list it as a separate section entitled Continuing Education.
If you regularly attend writers’ workshops, conferences, or are a member of a critique group, you should also list this as part of your continuing education. Publishers like to see that you are taking the craft seriously enough to be active in writing groups and are learning all you can.
Writing Memberships and Organizations: Be sure to include any writing or editorial groups you may either be a member of or are somehow affiliated with.
Contests and Awards: If you’ve won any writing contests (even local) or have received any awards for your writing, don’t forget to brag about yourself a little and add this to your resume!
If, after reading about resume writing, you feel overwhelmed or not sure how to tackle your own resume, contact me at email@example.com. I offer free consultations and resume reviews and will offer you a very competitive quote for helping develop a writer’s resume for your portfolio.