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Thread: What should an emailed query + pages LOOK like?

  1. #1
    Queen of the Upmarket Bagladies HoneyBadger's Avatar
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    What should an emailed query + pages LOOK like?

    I mean, obviously other than being in hot-pink Comic Sans.

    Okay, everything's formatted properly 12-pt Courier New, MS format, etc etc, but when you paste in the text, do you leave the page spacing as is, trim it up nice and neat?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Writer is as Writer does Terie's Avatar
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    Can you clarify whether you mean attachments or pasting the sample pages into the body of the e-mail? The answer is different depending on what you're doing.
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  3. #3
    Queen of the Upmarket Bagladies HoneyBadger's Avatar
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    Pasting pages into the email body, yeah.

    For attachments, I'm assuming as long as your MS is properly formatted and saved as a .doc, or whatever requested file, they don't care about page breaks and stuff.

    I am over-thinking this, probably.

  4. #4
    Writer is as Writer does Terie's Avatar
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    Okay.

    For pasting into the body of the e-mail, you can't format as you would for a manuscript, and they don't expect you to. So don't bother to try.

    You paste it in single-spaced, with one extra return between paragraphs. Also, no indenting of the first line. The easiest way to do this is to copy the pages from your manuscript and paste into a new file, then change the formatting of the new file. That is, globally change one return to two returns, change smart quotes to straight quotes if you used smart quotes, left-align any centred headings, and get rid of your first-line indenting. Then copy this new version into the body of your e-mail.

    At this point in time, most e-mail clients will correctly display italicised text in italics, but if you want to be extra-specially sure, you can always put an underscore at the beginning and end of the italicised text, _like this_. Most editors will understand what the extraneous underscores are and won't be bothered by them even if they're unnecessary.

    I also change the font to a sans serif one, since sans serif is easier to read onscreen. If the editor decides to print your pages out, they'll reformat it all to their preference anyway.
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  5. #5
    Tyrant King jeffo20's Avatar
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    Great information, Terie, thanks. Good luck, Honey Badger.
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  6. #6
    Queen of the Upmarket Bagladies HoneyBadger's Avatar
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    Oh my gosh, that's EXACTLY what I was looking for in an answer.

    Thank you SO much!

  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW
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    Sending as plain text is the best option for preventing formatting problems. You might also try emailing it to yourself or a friend at another email host before sending it off. Sometimes, the formatting on the sender end gets lost or garbled across different email programs, so it may not look the same on your screen as it will on the receiving end.

  8. #8
    Writer is as Writer does Terie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quickbread View Post
    Sending as plain text is the best option for preventing formatting problems. You might also try emailing it to yourself or a friend at another email host before sending it off. Sometimes, the formatting on the sender end gets lost or garbled across different email programs, so it may not look the same on your screen as it will on the receiving end.
    Oh, I forgot to mention that. If you want to be sure that all potentially wonky formatting is removed, after you do your global changes, copy them to a plain text editor (such as Notepad or Wordpad) rather than your word processing program. Save and then copy and paste to your e-mail.

    I'm not a huge fan of relying on e-mailing things to myself or friends to check formatting. There are so many variables that might be the same on my and a friend's machine but different on the recipient's. It doesn't hurt to make this test, but a successful test doesn't really give you peace of mind that it will universally work okay.

    Putting the pages into a plain text editor helps a lot.

    And if worst comes to worst, editors and agents are used to getting wonky stuff and won't auto-reject because of that. If they really can't read it and want to, they'll contact you and ask you to resend it.

    Thanks for reminding me about that, Quickbread!
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  9. #9
    practical experience, FTW hlynn117's Avatar
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    This post. Everything Nathan Bransford writes has been very helpful, even if I never intend to query him.

  10. #10
    Queen of the Upmarket Bagladies HoneyBadger's Avatar
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    Thanks.

    Yeah, I know how the query's supposed to look, but I didn't know what the pages should look like, but now I do!

    Awesome help, everyone!

  11. #11
    practical experience, FTW flapperphilosopher's Avatar
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    Just want to say thanks for the answers tooo, and to HoneyBadger for asking, because I wanted to know the exact same thing!
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  12. #12
    Fantastic! zegota's Avatar
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    Wink

    Quote Originally Posted by hlynn117 View Post
    This post. Everything Nathan Bransford writes has been very helpful, even if I never intend to query him.
    Given that he's no longer an agent, you probably shouldn't worry about that caveat.
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  13. #13
    Queen of the Upmarket Bagladies HoneyBadger's Avatar
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    Derp.

    Cover page? Does that go with c&p'd partials?

    Man, it's almost like I'm looking for reasons to delay querying or something... Weird, huh?

    Edit: I decided the answer is "no."
    Last edited by HoneyBadger; 04-02-2012 at 09:47 PM.

  14. #14
    bedeviled kobold's Avatar
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    This is a great help, but: left-align any centered headings. . . so when it's been pasted into the body of the email, you may center it then? Or it arrives at the agency (I understand that they'll format it however they want) left-aligned where the author intended it to be centered?

    Also, for those tricky sample pages, so you remove all your formatting and paste it in plain. Then you can format in the email (underline, etc.), or is that unnecessary as well? And how many spaces between the end of the query and the start of your sample pages? One more: how is underscoring on either side of a word less problematic than simply underscoring the whole word?

    Thanks Terie, HB, (and anyone else with answers I do not have or questions I'm unsure how to ask, or answers I'm not sure I get).


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  15. #15
    Writer is as Writer does Terie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kobold View Post
    This is a great help, but: left-align any centered headings. . . so when it's been pasted into the body of the email, you may center it then? Or it arrives at the agency (I understand that they'll format it however they want) left-aligned where the author intended it to be centered?
    I left-align everything. That way, they get it exactly as I send it. If something is centred in the e-mail, and if the recipient's e-mail client doesn't recognise the formatting, you don't really know what it will do.

    Quote Originally Posted by kobold View Post
    Also, for those tricky sample pages, so you remove all your formatting and paste it in plain. Then you can format in the email (underline, etc.), or is that unnecessary as well? And how many spaces between the end of the query and the start of your sample pages? One more: how is underscoring on either side of a word less problematic than simply underscoring the whole word?
    I don't format anything in the e-mail for the reason I gave above. You just don't know how someone else's e-mail client will handle formatting. It's safest simply not to format at all.

    I usually put a line of about 5-10 plus signs between each element of my query, like this:

    query text (including signature)

    +++++

    synopsis

    +++++

    sample pages
    Finally, the point of adding an underscore character before and after your italicised text, _like this_, is to make it clear that the enclosed text is supposed to be italicised. (Note that you don't underline a space; you type an underscore.) If you underline the text itself, you don't know whether the underlining will appear in the recipient's e-mail. We're back to what I've said above: you don't know how the recipient's e-mail will handle formatting. IOW, typing an underscore character is a plain character; underlining text is formatting.

    Indenting, line spacing, underlining, italicising, bolding...these are all types of formatting that might or might not appear in the recipient's e-mail, depending on what e-mail client they use and how they have it set up. You, the sender, have no control over those settings.

    What do you have control over is what you send. If you send something that uses no formatting, you'll be sure that what you send has a high likelihood of arriving nearly exactly as you sent it. That is, you can pretty much control what it looks like.

    Quote Originally Posted by kobold View Post
    Thanks Terie, HB, (and anyone else with answers I do not have or questions I'm unsure how to ask, or answers I'm not sure I get).
    You're quite welcome.
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  16. #16
    bedeviled kobold's Avatar
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    Bless you, Terie.

    We all strive to make those first five pages perfect to grab the agent's attention, and then (irony alert) we lose a fraction of that perfection (the formatting) in the email. Sigh.

    I have two follow-ups: concerning the dash -- double, single? I would think the email might play havoc with that as well. Also, suppose several paragraphs are meant to be italicized (in, say, for instance, a dream sequence). Is it one underscore at the start of the first paragraph and a second at the end of each paragraph, or just two underscores, one at the beginning and one at the end of the entire sequence? Please don't tell me they must appear on either side of every word.

    I ask so many questions because when I do query (soon), I so wish to avoid the dreaded tag of --amateur.

    Eternal thanks.
    Read Russ Paladin's work in The Brasilia Review:

    http://www.brasiliareview.org/wordpr...-dr-lovecraft/

    http://www.brasiliareview.org/wordpr...-the-falconer/

    and in the March 2015 issue of DISTURBED Digest,
    in trade paperback from Alban Lake Publishing--

    http://albanlake.com/march-2015/

    . . .for a bit of darkness. . .

  17. #17
    Writer is as Writer does Terie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kobold View Post
    I have two follow-ups: concerning the dash -- double, single? I would think the email might play havoc with that as well. Also, suppose several paragraphs are meant to be italicized (in, say, for instance, a dream sequence). Is it one underscore at the start of the first paragraph and a second at the end of each paragraph, or just two underscores, one at the beginning and one at the end of the entire sequence? Please don't tell me they must appear on either side of every word.
    Sorry that I didn't spot this question sooner, Kobold.

    Don't worry about the dashes in an e-mail. The recipient will get the idea. Personally, I'd use two dashes for an em-dash. But that's not something to sweat over.

    And, though I've never personally had multiple consecutive paragraphs italicised in an e-query, I think I'd probably deal with the underscores the same as quote marks on a multi-paragraph speech...that is, put one at the beginning of the italicised text, one at the beginning of each succeeding paragraph, and one at the end of the italicised text.
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  18. #18
    figuring it all out
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    Thanks for the info! I just about tore my hair out trying to figure this out.

  19. #19
    Cultus Gopherus MacAllister SuperModerator Medievalist's Avatar
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    Before you send query to an agent or editor:

    Send it to yourself as a test.

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