Saturday, October 5, 2013

#250-a reminder on closing your queries

 This entry plucks examples from five queries, each of which needs work on the closing.

(1) If the concept of the novel appeals to you, please contact me using the provided information below to request a full manuscript.  I look forward to hearing from you and thank you for taking the time to consider my work.

Concepts appeal to me all the time. It's not the only thing that needs to appeal to me.  

Also, I have a real antipathy about stating the obvious in a query. If you're stating the obvious, you're over writing. That's a Bad Sign in a query.

If I want to read the novel I'll get in touch.  Just put your contact info below your name.

(2) I’m an author from (here)  and after having been a fan and follower of the YA and Children’s Fantasy market for years, I’m pleased and excited to have completed TITLE  for your review.

Review means something very different in publishing than the way you're using it here. You're sending me a query for consideration. Not review. Also, this sentence is a platypus: the parts don't belong together.
Use the standard closing "Thank you for your time and consideration" and you'll be better off.

(3) The first three chapters or the entire manuscript of TITLE is available upon your request in either hard copy or by email. I can be contacted quicker by email but also through phone and address. Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

What about smoke signals?  Uniformed footman?  
And only three chapters? What if I want to read it all? (I always request a full if I'm interested in your query by the way. Partials are pointless in the electronic age.)

You don't need to tell me your manuscript is available or in what format.  I'm going to assume you'll get it to me in whatever format I ask for, up to and including recitation by a professional actor dressed as Jax Teller...

oh, sorry, lost my train of thought there for a moment.

(4) TITLE is a mystery of 64,000 words and my first effort.

First effort?
Please do not ever say that.  It's your first novel. And I really hope it's not even that; I hope
there are several early efforts under the bed someplace.

(5) Please help me to find a publisher.  You may contact me at this e-mail address, at (here), or at (404)(there).  Thank you for taking the time to consider my work.
Please help you find a publisher? Here's a list. 

What you really want me to do is take you on as a a client.

I know this sounds petty.  I can hear you say "but you know what I mean!" and you're right I do.  But a query is a measure of how well you write, and this is badly written.  It doesn't say what you want to convey.

Here's the rule:

Close your query with one sentence: Thank you for your time and consideration.

Then your name.
Then your contact info.

ALL of your contact points: address, phone, twitter, blog, website.

Go look at your query right now.

Does it have the correct closing? If not, FIX IT.


JD Seibel said...

"This sentence is a platypus." perfect.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Well, it's good to know my query closure is all right. Still have to work on the rest of it, however.

Anonymous said...

This probably won't get posted, but....seeing these things in query letters really frustrates me. The Shark has made it abundantly clear that such closings are unacceptable. It's frustrating that for those of us who've read every single query in the history, and worked our hardest to eliminate such things from our query letters, that these types of mistake-ridden queries still fill up the slush and take the Shark's time away from those of us who've studied the archives.

If there are mistakes like these in the query letters, the manuscripts must be filled with them.

Colin Smith said...

I have a question that is a little off-topic--but only slightly--since you raised the point that you take a badly-written query as an omen of things to come in the novel.

Agents have been known to check out prospective client's blogs and/or social media. How much might a badly-written blog article influence your decision to request a manuscript? As I wander the webs, I've come across blogs by unpublished writers that don't reflect well any writing skills they may have. And I wonder if writers might put as much care and attention into *all* their writing (blogs, emails, comments, etc.) if they knew prospective agents/publishers/readers were assessing their abilities based on these and not just their query letter.

I would love to read your thoughts on this, Ms. Shark. Thanks!

Janet Reid said...

Colin, you might consider asking that question of the Question Emporium.

LynnRodz said...

Good question Colin, but I think If you're sloppy (grammar, spelling, etc.) in your blog post or in writing a comment, more than likely you're going to be sloppy in a manuscript as well. Each is a reflection of you and your writing.

Colin Smith said...

I have submitted the above to the Empora of the Emporium. :)

No need to let me know when you post an answer, Janet. I check your blog often enough. :)

Colin Smith said...

LynnRodz: I don't want to speak for all writers, but I know I can't put anything in writing without being a writer. That is, I proof read, grammar/spell check, and even give an ear to the voice and flow of whatever it is I'm writing. I can't help it, and I can't imagine anyone who's a writer not doing the same. And yes, I even subjected this comment to my authorial eye! But there may be those out there who only care about their novels, and simply not give any other kind of writing the same kind of care and attention. And maybe DaVinci doodled stick figures... ;)

Theresa Milstein said...

I wonder if some writers think they need a different angle. But agents keep saying simple is best.

Fantasy-Schmantasy said...

It's nice to have at least one part of the query I can know for certain that I got right.