Skip to main content

Ultimate Blog Series on Novel Queries (#7)

Image placeholder title

This
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.

CLOSE YOUR LETTER PROFESSIONALLY
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.

Writer’s Digest Official Book Club Selection: Portrait of a Thief

Writer’s Digest Official Book Club Selection: Portrait of a Thief

The editors of Writer’s Digest are proud to bring you the first book club pick, Portrait of a Thief, to read along with us.

6 Ways To Fight Your Inner Critics

6 Ways To Fight Your Inner Critics

For many writers, self-critique gets in the way of making much progress. Here, author Julia Crouch shares 6 ways to fight your inner critics.

Writing Allegory: A Convenient Place to Hide

Writing Allegory: A Convenient Place to Hide

Where realistic fiction felt both too restrictive and too revealing for author Susan Speranza’s transition from poetry to fiction, she turned to allegory. Here, she shares examples of famous allegories throughout history and how allegorical writing helped shape her novel, Ice Out.

Instagram: An Underutilized Tool for the Freelance Writer

Instagram: An Underutilized Tool for the Freelance Writer

In this post, author C. Hope Clark shares tips on how freelance writers can use Instagram as a tool to find more freelance writing connections, assignments, and overall success.

Jane Porter: On the Joy of Writing Mature Characters

Jane Porter: On the Joy of Writing Mature Characters

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jane Porter discusses celebrating the nature of getting older in her new romance novel, Flirting With Fifty.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 610

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a "different way of seeing the world" poem.

How To Research Topics Like a Journalist

How To Research Topics Like a Journalist

From in-person interviews to scouring the web for credible sources, journalist Alison Hill shares tips on how to research topics like a journalist.

Can I Have Your Attention?

Can I Have Your Attention?

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, an announcement is about to change the course of history.

Glenn Boozan: On the Funny Side of Parenting

Glenn Boozan: On the Funny Side of Parenting

Emmy nominated comedy writer Glenn Boozan discusses how a funny piece of perspective turned into her new humor book, There Are Moms Way Worse Than You.