Ultimate Blog Series on Novel Queries (#7)

Publish date:
Image placeholder title

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.


Greta K. Kelly: Publishing Is a Marathon

Debut author Greta K. Kelly reveals how the idea for her novel sparked and the biggest surprise of her publication journey.

Poetic Forms

Mistress Bradstreet Stanza: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the Mistress Bradstreet stanza, an invented form of John Berryman.


Capital vs. Capitol (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use capital vs. capitol with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.


On Writing to Give Grief Meaning and Write Out of Challenging Situations

Author Lily Dulan explains why writers have to be willing to go to difficult places inside themselves for their writing to make a positive impact on ourselves, others, and the world.


Gerald Brandt: Toeing the Line Between Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Science fiction author Gerald Brandt explains how this new series explores the genre boundary and how he came to find his newest book's focus.


Plot Twist Story Prompts: Moment of Doubt

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character experience a moment of doubt.


Caitlin O'Connell: Finding Connection and Community in Animal Rituals

In this post, Dr. Caitlin O'Connell shares what prompted her to write a book about finding connection and community in animal rituals, what surprised her in the writing process, and much more!


New Agent Alert: Zeynep Sen of WordLink Literary Agency

New literary agent alerts (with this spotlight featuring Zeynep Sen of WordLink Literary Agency) are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is a literary agent who is likely building his or her client list.


Mark Henick: On Memory, Healing, and Languishing Projects

Author Mark Henick shares how he was able to turn a successful TEDx talk into a memoir, even when the project didn't come as quickly as he expected.