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Thread: Saying your MS is "completed" in your query letter

  1. #1
    Who wants a cup of tea? HFgal's Avatar
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    Saying your MS is "completed" in your query letter

    Hi,
    I'm recovering from my first day in Query Letter Hell, but one thing that came up in another person's thread was use of the word "completed". I have read that this is important to put in the letter so the agent knows you're done, and also read that it is a rookie move/unnecessary because why would you be querying if your MS wasn't completed.

    Which do you, dear reader of this thread, think is correct?

  2. #2
    space opera-popcorn lover!
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    You shouldn't query until it is, so it doesn't need stated imho.
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  3. #3
    The Surreal Thing AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    There was a time when it seemed acceptable, maybe even wise, back when how and when to query was insider knowledge and hard to come by.

    Now that it's easy to find out all about queries, it seems unnecessary and, to me, amateurish.

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    Writer is as Writer does Terie's Avatar
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    It's not important, per se, but it doesn't hurt to include it. The main thing is not to query before the book is written (and rewritten and rewritten and polished and...). Agents will assume the manuscript is finished, so there's really only a problem if it isn't. To me, adding a single word to a query isn't going to hurt, assuming the query isn't overwritten to start with. It gives the agent that iota of assurance that the book is done, but not stating it explicitly isn't going to be a strike against you.
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    can totally spell Brobdinrgnagrian buzhidao's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terie View Post
    It's not important, per se, but it doesn't hurt to include it. The main thing is not to query before the book is written (and rewritten and rewritten and polished and...). Agents will assume the manuscript is finished, so it's really only a problem if it isn't. To me, adding a single word to a query isn't going to hurt, assuming the query isn't overwritten to start with. It gives the agent that iota of assurance that the book is done, but not stating it explicitly isn't going to be a strike against you.
    This... I don't think it matters much one way or another. I don't put it in because it doesn't need to be there, and I understand the sentiment of paring down unnecessary words--perfectly valid and all--but it's not like an agent is going to reject you for writing "completed."

  6. #6
    Tell it like it Is Susan Littlefield's Avatar
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    I agree with Terie.

    I doubt any agent is going to roll her eyes at the word "completed" and toss the query into the rejection pile...
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  7. #7
    Travel biologist, piss-poor fluffer quicklime's Avatar
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    i leave it; I'm sure saying it is completed won't lead to an auto-reject, but if I'm trying to show I can master the language, superficial words and redundancies don't help set that impression, either.
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  8. #8
    a demon for tea EMaree's Avatar
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    I wouldn't do it.
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  9. #9
    I aim to misbehave Myrealana's Avatar
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    At least 75% of the "Successful query letters" I have read on agent blogs have contained the phrase "is complete at XX,000 words."

    I just checked my dream agent, Kristen Nelson's site, and of the seven letters she has listed as examples of how to write a good query letter, five contain that or similar wording.
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  10. #10
    Totally Ninja! quickWit's Avatar
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    I'd say it's understood and therefore, unecessary.

    Good luck
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  11. #11
    practical experience, FTW mayqueen's Avatar
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    I can't imagine it would matter one away or another. I've seen "Complete at XX,XXX words, MY NOVEL is [genre]" as a fairly standard part of a query. I put that as the closing line of my queries. Of course you should only query if you manuscript is done, but I don't think the presence or absence of the word "complete" determines that. In my opinion, you just don't want "My manuscript is complete and ready to send to you."
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  12. #12
    Action is my reward..that and bacon MttStrn's Avatar
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    Considering how many agents on Twitter post that they get queries for incomplete books, I would say there is no harm at all in leaving it as long as it simple like, "complete at XX,XXX words..."

  13. #13
    Who's going for a beer? waylander's Avatar
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    I used "is complete at xxx,xxx words" in my (successful) query.
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  14. #14
    resident curmudgeon
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    Many writers do this, and it isn't harmful, but it is somewhat amateurish. And as any editor or agent can tell you, it's no guarantee that the novel really is finished.

  15. #15
    Who wants a cup of tea? HFgal's Avatar
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    Yeah, it's all sort of pretzel-logic-ish - if you have a word count, wouldn't it have to be completed for you to KNOW the word count? And yet you can have a word count and the word "completed" and that isn't a guarantee to the agent that is actually is completed.

    Seems like there is not consensus on this, but the good news is that it doesn't seem like it's going to be the straw that broke the camel's back.

  16. #16
    I'll just confirm that a ton of my queries say "completed" and I don't notice either way. I always assume it's completed.

    Do NOT say "recently completed"-- it sounds like you didn't revise at all.
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  17. #17
    That hairy-handed gent
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    Just don't say something like "kind of completed".

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  18. #18
    Tyrant King jeffo20's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HFgal View Post
    if you have a word count, wouldn't it have to be completed for you to KNOW the word count?
    That's the way I think, but there are plenty of people around here who have the little word count tickers in their sigs: "Untitled WiP: 1,340/90,000." Some people know what their target word count is before writing a single word.
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  19. #19
    Moderation in All Things AW Moderator Roger J Carlson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesaritchie View Post
    Many writers do this, and it isn't harmful, but it is somewhat amateurish. And as any editor or agent can tell you, it's no guarantee that the novel really is finished.
    For a writer with established publishing credits, it would be amateurish. For a ... well ... amateur it would say "Hey, I may not be established, but at least I know enough not to query until it's done." If you're going to show yourself as an amateur (and you'd better not pretend otherwise), you might as well appear to be an informed one.
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  20. #20
    Positivilly Movillis . . . Krazykat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesaritchie View Post
    Many writers do this, and it isn't harmful, but it is somewhat amateurish. And as any editor or agent can tell you, it's no guarantee that the novel really is finished.
    Specifically stating that your manuscript is finished would clearly look amateurish. But as far as I can tell, the phrase "complete at xx,xxx words" has always been standard verbage, and I can't imagine anyone thinking it makes a writer look like an amateur.

    Personally, I think "Awesome Title is a YA paranormal romance complete at 75,000 words" reads better than "Awesome Title is a 75,000-word YA paranormal romance", which sounds a tad clunky.
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