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View Full Version : Back to Basics: How do You Fire Off a Dang E-Mail anyway?



Mharvey
03-03-2012, 06:19 PM
Hey all,

Forgive the silly subject name, but this is something that's come up in recent history for me. A few months ago, I sent off about 12 query letters. Only like 2 of them responded. The two that responded with form rejections.

I noticed, in the quoted text, that the E-Mail looked like a jigsaw puzzle. It was just filthy. On a hunch, I pasted my query letter and E-mailed myself. It came off looking all right, but when I picked up the E-Mail outside of G-Mail in Outlook, it looked like Doctor Seuss' worst nightmare, with random sentence breaks. It was just an eyesore.

Quite embarrassed, I hung my head in shame.

The impact of that is still with me. I was never quite able to pinpoint the reason that happened, so every time I'm about to send out a query, I always E-Mail it to myself, then pick it up in outlook, then - provided it comes out all right - I wince and submit it to the agent. After the 75th or so time doing that, especially when there's an inexplicable formatting problem and I need to repeat that about 10 times before I get it to actually read like it is when I send it out, it gets very tedious. I kinda just wish I could trust my E-Mail not to put whatever damn formatting it liked.

So, let's just cut right to a basic question: what is your ritual when you E-Mail query letters? What E-Mail platform do you use? How do you avoid any hidden formatting problems that seem to randomly spring up when you cut and paste?

Parametric
03-03-2012, 06:22 PM
I've become an evangelist for PureText (http://stevemiller.net/puretext/). It's a simple little program that lets me copy and paste clean text, leaving all the hidden tags behind. It gives me peace of mind that my queries aren't coming out garbled.

Cyia
03-03-2012, 07:10 PM
You can do the same thing by copy/pasting into notepad to strip all formatting, then copy/pasting from notepad into the email.

leahzero
03-03-2012, 07:18 PM
When I was querying I wrote my emails in Gmail in my browser (Firefox) using rich text formatting, and pasted in manuscript text directly from the latest MS Word (running on a Windows 7 machine). Zero formatting issues on any other platforms.

Writing email in plain-text format is a good idea if you're worried about format fudgery creeping in.

Keep in mind that certain things like your OS (Windows, Mac OS, Android, etc.) have bearing on formatting, too. Each OS may treat special characters and line breaks differently. Things like curly quotes, accented letters, etc. can get mangled across platforms. And each OS tends to have its popular word processing programs that may handle text formatting differently as well. Open Office doesn't handle text exactly the same as MS Word.

The best advice I can give is to limit cutting and pasting to as few steps as possible, then send test emails to yourself and check the formatting on various platforms (PC, Mac, phone).

Also, never ever ever copy and paste text from an old email to a new one. Copy directly from the source (Word doc or whatever) and paste it into the new email. This is another prime place where formatting creep gets in.

Jamesaritchie
03-03-2012, 07:19 PM
I send everything .rtf through Outlook. I have Outlook set to send and receive .rtf, and never have format problems.

But random sentence breaks are pretty much never the cause for rejection.

HopeWelsh
03-03-2012, 07:28 PM
I'm with the 'plain text' crowd. Even your manuscript pages. I've seen some jumbled messes arrive in my inbox--and some things apparently, like simple ' format badly, for instance, from PC to MAC.

Times New Roman is a font that both machines can read, as I understand it.

Polenth
03-03-2012, 07:42 PM
I write all my emails in plain text format. It doesn't support any formatting, so the email will be clean and readable on any platform. It does mean things like sample pages have to be in plain text format (a line between paragraphs, no indenting, no double spacing) but for a 5-10 page sample that's not a huge deal.

Another advantage of plain text is it won't add any sneaky attachments to the file, which some email programs are prone to doing if you use fancy formatting.


I'm with the 'plain text' crowd. Even your manuscript pages. I've seen some jumbled messes arrive in my inbox--and some things apparently, like simple ' format badly, for instance, from PC to MAC.

Times New Roman is a font that both machines can read, as I understand it.

If you're sending in plain text, there is no font formatting. The email reader will show it in whatever font the user has set.

Corinne Duyvis
03-03-2012, 07:44 PM
I always hit "strip formatting" in Gmail before sending. Then I need to go through and make sure all the line breaks are in OK condition. From what I can tell, those e-mails always came through just fine.