An 8 Point Guide to Creating The Perfect Writer's CV

An 8 Point Guide To Creating The Perfect Writers CV

I had to update my CV this week and then for one reason or another I had to create a writers CV as well. This stumped me. I mean, what does that even look like? I’d never written a CV just for my writing stuff before. What is it meant to include? Is it different from a normal CV? I gave it a bash and then decided I probably ought to do what I do best, and research. So here are the top tips I have gathered on creating your perfect writers CV.

ONE – Less is more

Like a normal CV less is more. No one needs to know you were a pot washer at 12. Just include the relevant stuff.

For a lot of writers, writing is a second job, so don’t bother including any of the stuff you do in your day to day, its just not relevant, that is of course, unless you are a freelance writer, publisher, editor or anything else relevant.

 

TWO – Stick to the Rules

Just like with a normal CV you want to keep the layout and format similar. Stick to two pages. Clean fonts, size 12.

If you need to bend the rules to squeeze more in, it’s better to play with the margins than shrink the font.

 

THREE – Plain English

We’re writers, that doesn’t mean writing war and peace for your CV, it means we’re good with words. So be good. Be concise. No flowery metaphor filled language. Cut to the point, what have you done, and why was it awesome.

 

FOUR – Profile, Profile, Profile

If the only thing your submitting is a CV then you’re restricted with how much of ‘YOU’ you can actually put in. BUT, you can put a profile at the top, a three-ish sentence summary of who you are, what you’re about, why you’re awesome and why they would want you.

 

FIVE – Be Charmingly Arrogant

Look, forget all the modesty bullshit if you want to get a writing gig you need to sell yourself. No one else is going to do it for you. So big yourself up. That doesn’t mean lie. It means tell the truth as it should be told. Have you boosted your daily stats from 50 – 100 views per day? If so, say it. Have you won a competition? WELL SAY IT THEN.

 

SIX – Outcomes

This is the hard bit, like a normal CV the best thing to do in terms of style is to lay out your achievements in as easily digestible format as you can. For example,

The Wrong Way

I run my own website which I personally created from scratch, doing all the design and artwork and writing all the content for the site. You can find it here www.Irunthisw3bsite.com I have also worked really hard for four months to build the views which now average 100 a day.

The Right Way

I created and now run a website, http://www.Irunthisw3bsite.com focused on connecting writers to editors. I have taken it from 1 view per day to 100 views per day in just 4 months.

See? It says exactly the same thing, only it is much more clean and concise.

 

SEVEN – Content

This is where it differs from  normal CV, the content will need to focus on a variety of specialised topics, including:

Past experience 

Publications you may have had

Competition wins

Websites / social media

Agent and/or publisher

Memberships – do you have any writing memberships? If so, list them

Writing Projects you have worked on – this could be for magazines or your own novels/stories

Skills – your writing skills – what are your specialisms?

Genres and Fiction types – do you write fiction or non-fiction and what genre?

 

EIGHT – The other stuff

Finally, you need to include other normal stuff like:

Education – degrees or other types of courses that could be relevant

References and anything else that may give you an edge

Social Media

Contact Details 

What else? What have I missed? I am learning this as I go, so I would love to hear if you think I have missed anything – I am definitely going to have to go and revise my CV now!

35 comments

  1. A potentially helpful post Sacha. To date I have never been asked to provide a writer’s CV but you never know when you might be. The most common thing asked for here is a bio that is generally reasonably short and you have to tailor it to what you are trying to do.

  2. Shouldn’t good grammar/punctuation/spelling be (pretty high) in a list of ways to show one’s writing prowess? Sloppiness in these areas would surely undermine the CV. We all trip up sometimes*, so they deserve a mention.

    * E.g., There are two punctuation marks missing from the title of this otherwise excellent post.

    1. Ha, thanks for that Greg, I am actually extremely bad with grammar, I don’t hide that fact. Just not something I have been gifted with :(. I actually talk about it all the time, and have paid someone to check all the grammar on my CV for that very reason. I have tried a number of methods to try and get better, but nothing has worked so far. Ironically, I actually put this title into a grammar checker online because I thought something was up with it. Nothing came up so I left it as was! THanks for the pointer, when I get to a laptop I will have a go at changing it. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Thanks, Sacha. I’m bookmarking this one for when (if?) I need it. I always feel a little embarrassed talking about myself, and so have struggled with CV’s in the past. Can’t beat a good template!

  4. Excellent, Sacha! I have a CV that covers my marketing and writing career both, with my workshops and publications listed. I find it’s versatile for a resume when I’m pitching a program or a freelance gig. But do fictional writers use CVs? I’m wondering if there is a reason to have just a writing CV and adding to it fictional genres. For instance, is this something agents or publishers would want? I appreciate your keen research skills and your ability to condense what you learn into teachable bites for the rest of us! 🙂

    1. Hey Charli, ahh see that makes sense, I couldn’t put my career and writing on one CV or it would read utterly bonkers, I am a project manager by day! the two are so unrelated :*(

      I was actually applying to something specific which is why I needed the CV – and it was non fiction work. I’m wondering if its something freelance writers get asked for more than any other type of writer?

      1. In the “old” days, a query letter and a few hard copies from the portfolio sufficed for freelancing. These days, it’s such a mixed bag as to what one will be asked for, but usually in an email. I use G+ to link digitally to all my bylines online which gets me huge hits, meaning my articles are still being read. But G+ is also a great way to have a resume online, especially with those links to articles. The CV is what conferences typically ask for when submitting a speaker’s proposal (I’m thinking you’d be good at that). I was wondering if Lit magazines, agents or publishers ever ask for them. Good to be prepared, right? 🙂

    1. hehe, are you from across the pond by any chance? A number of people have asked what a CV is! My bad, should have thought of that before putting it in the title! Its a Curriculum Vitae, or a resume – a list of past experience for potential employers 😀

  5. God I hope I never need one! I’ve nothing of interest to put on one. I got myself a writing gig by emailing someone the links to my top 5 blog posts, and writing a few lines of bio and where my writing would sit in their publication. Maybe they were desperate lol! Good luck with what you need it for… you deserve to get it simply on the strength of producing your CV alone! ?

    1. Well, I should have explained a little more. I was applying to something specific which is why I needed the CV. They explicitly asked for one. But it was for non fiction work rather than fictional stuff. Like I said to Charli, my hunch is that freelance writers would find more use for it than other writers.

  6. Reblogged this on sherriemiranda1 and commented:
    Thanks, Sasha! This is excellent advice!
    I also shared it my my FB page:
    https://www.facebook.com/A-Page-A-Day-Lets-all-write-just-one-page-a-day-103970129720405/?ref=br_tf
    Peace,
    Sherrie
    Sherrie Miranda’s historically based, coming of age, Adventure novel “Secrets & Lies in El Salvador” is about an American girl in war-torn El Salvador:
    http://tinyurl.com/klxbt4y
    Her husband made a video for her novel. He wrote the song too:

    P.S. Can anyone see if Pinterest is included in my “Share this” links? I can’t see my own.

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