"Why do people include article credits? Because every single "how-to" book I've ever read tells you to. This is the first agent blog that I've come across that is against mentioning article publishing credits. Other agents say that by including those credits you're showing them that you can write well enough that somebody at some point paid you actual money for it. Yes they're totally different kinds of writing, but then again, writing a novel is vastly different than writing a query or a synopsis, yet we're expected to have mastered both of those art forms in order to get published. I think this is the perfect example of why I love agent’s blogging. Now any author who does their homework on what your agency prefers will know not to talk about any articles they've published, and to keep it solely about the novel writing that they have done."
First of all, it is important to remember that many (many, many, many, many…) how-to-write/get published books—and even articles on writing, for that matter—are written by writers whose only writing credit is their how-to-write/get published book.
Writing a query should be no problem as it’s a business letter, something we all learn how to write in high school. It’s only when writers are taught to try to embellish to somehow turn a simple query into a work of art that query letter writing becomes a chore. I have seen articles, books, and workshops on how to “pitch” in your query and how to “hook” an agent, and most of that kind of gimmicky, hype-y stuff just gives me more to plow through. The key, as always, is in the writing, as you mentioned. As has been stated on this blog in many posts, KEEP IT SIMPLE and you’ll get further. Writers who have been overwhelmed with “helpful” information seem to trip themselves up in their own words, and simplicity practically eliminates this.
Just on a personal note, I have never really understood the idea that if a writer has been paid to write something, an article in this case, that his skills would command monetary compensation in another area of writing. Let's look at it this way: If you were a novelist, would that count if you were going to apply to write articles for Newsweek?
The deadlines for articles and novels are different, as is the rhythm of the publishing process and how it proceeds. For me, it would be like saying that if I have held a job selling screws, that I would be an expert at selling automobiles because they contain screws--if that makes any sense. :)
Thanks for bringing this up. Good discussion.