Esquire is a tough sell. . .or so I’m told. I don’t know why, but I seem to have some sort of weird block when it comes to Esquire. I simply can’t write a story I think fits there, even though I’ve read a bunch of Esquire stories that I love. But I like your approach.
I hadn’t thought about mentioning a story in a magazine, but it sounds like a good idea. Especially if it isn’t a story available for free online. . .or even if it is, should all the stories be available this way.
What to do when the editor says he isn’t interested in a bio is tricky. If they don’t specifically say not to include them, I still do so. If they specifically say not to do so, I don’t. I know from talking to editors that all sorts of reasons exist for not wanting a bio, the most common excuse seems to wanting to read a story without bias. This really doesn’t hold water most of the time.
I suspect it’s often more along the lines of what one editor told me. He said either you’d published wide enough and well enough for him to recognize your name, or you haven’t. If you have, no bio is needed. If you haven’t, a bio won’t help.
As for cockiness, I think it sometimes works very well. Years ago, when Art Spikol had a nonfiction column in Writer’s Digest, he talked about a writer he hired. When he put out the call, writer after writer returned the usual resume, but one did something different. His resume was nothing more than a statement saying, “I can flat write.” Spikol hired him.