Ultimate Blog Series on Novel Queries (#7)

is my definitive No Rules series on novel queries. It’s meant
particularly for writers who are new to the query process. (A series on
nonfiction book queries will come later.) Go back to the beginning of the series.

You don’t read much advice about how to close a query letter, perhaps because there’s not much to it, right? You say thanks and sign your name.

But here are 10 things to remember about your closing, to leave a good final impression.

1. Make sure you confirm the manuscript is completed, if you haven’t already. Some writers like to end with a variation of, “May I send you the completed manuscript for review?”, which is fine.

2. You don’t have to state that you are simultaneously querying. Everyone assumes this. (I do not recommend exclusive queries; send queries out in batches of 3-5—or more, if you’re confident in your query quality.)

3. If your manuscript is under consideration at another agency, then mention it if/when the next agent requests to see your manuscript.

4. If you have a series in mind (meaning your query is for the first in the series), this is a good time to mention it. But don’t belabor the point; it should take a sentence.

5. Never mention your “history” with the work, e.g., how many agents you’ve queried, or how many near misses you’ve suffered, or how many compliments you’ve received on the work from others.

6. Resist the temptation to editorialize. This is where you proclaim how much the agent will love the work, or how exciting it is, or how it’s going to be a bestseller if only someone would give it a chance, or how much your kids enjoy it, or how much the world needs this work.

7. Thank the agent, but don’t carry on unnecessarily,
or be incredibly subservient—or beg. (“I know you’re very busy and I would be forever indebted and grateful if you would just look at a few pages.”)

8. There’s no need to go into great detail about when and how you’re available.
Make sure the letter includes, somewhere, your phone number, e-mail address, and return address. (Include an SASE for paper queries.) I recommend putting your contact info at the very top of the letter, or at the very bottom, under your name, rather than in the query body itself.

9. Do not introduce the idea of an in-person meeting. Do not say you’ll be visiting their city soon, and ask if they’d like to meet for coffee. The only possible exception to this is if you know you’ll hear them speak at an upcoming writing conference—but don’t ask for a meeting. Just say you look forward to hearing them speak. If provided, use the conference’s official channels to set up an appointment.

10. Don’t enclose or attach anything (except an SASE) unless the agency’s guidelines specifically say to do so. However, many believe (and I agree), it’s perfectly fine to enclose your first 1-5 pages with a paper-based query. Just be confident about your story opening! It must be dead on.

Next up: general red flags

Looking for more great query letter advice? Check out the Writer’s Digest official guide to queries, which includes examples and instruction by genre.

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